March is less than a month away, and college basketball fans are grinding their teeth in anticipation for what should be a wild March Madness.
Rarely does the madness that takes place during the NCAA tournament disappoint. Yes, maybe at times your favorite team gets kicked out in an early round and every bracket you made gets busted, but the quality of play and competition rarely disappoints.
Last year’s buzzer beating three-pointer by Villanova’s Kris Jenkins to win the tournament gives this year’s tournament a lot to live up to. Jenkins is back this year, but the reigning champions aren’t the favorites through the majority of the season.
Leading the AP Top-25 poll and the USA Today Coaches poll is the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who are an undefeated 26-0*. Gonzaga owns 59 of the 65 AP votes and 28 of the 32 coaches vote and are depicted as the top No. 1 seed in the first bracket predictions for March Madness.
Rounding out the No. 1 seeds are Villanova in the East, the Kansas Jayhawks in the Midwest, and the Baylor Bears in the South. Gonzaga would be in the West. The Villanova Wildcats are the only other team to receive a vote in either poll and are the second seed in both polls, with a 24-2* record.
The Bears are the only team outside of the top four in either poll to hold a No. 1 seed; they’re even as low as eighth in the Coaches Poll, but do have a 22-3* record.
Sitting in the second seeds in brackets are the Oregon Ducks, North Carolina Tar Heels, Louisville Cardinals and the Florida State Seminoles. The third seeds in the tournament brackets are the West Virginia Mountaineers, the Arizona Wildcats, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Florida Gators.
Rounding off the fourth seeded teams are the UCLA Bruins in the East and the Virginia Cavaliers in the Midwest. In the West, it’s the Duke Blue Devils and representing the South are the Purdue Boilermakers. Per espn.com, only four times since 1985 have the top four seeds in each region survive past the first round.
It’s even rare for all of the No. 2 seeds to make it past the first weekend. Only one time in the past 19 years have we seen all the No. 2 seeds still alive in the Sweet 16, and only four times in the past 31 years.
There are a lot of teams in the lower seeds that could potentially make some noise. Look out for 5 seeds vs. 12 seeds; No. 12 seeds actually won 15 of the 28 matchups from 2008-2014. The 6 seed vs. 11 seeds games have been nearly 50/50 results in recent history, but since 2000, the number 6 seeds have only won all four meetings once.
There are still a few games and conference tournaments to play, so look out for a few of the seeds to shift and some of the teams to switch places. The tournaments will help or hurt some teams, but one thing is for sure- March Madness is right around the corner.
*All records are as of 02/13