NCAA Basketball Tournament Field Set
The NCAA Basketball Tournament Field of 68 was set on March 12th, and despite the usual complaining in some quarters about seedings and teams that were left out, it will all begin March 14th and 15th with four play in games that will reduce the field to 64.
The #1 seeds in each region are Villanova (31-3) in the East, Gonzaga (32-1) in the West, Kansas (28-4) in the Midwest, and North Carolina (27-7) in the South. North Carolina and Kansas both lost in their conference tournaments, but the selection committee looks at the Big Picture of the entire season when making these decisions. Duke won the ACC Tournament with four wins in four days, the last three coming against Top 25 teams Louisville, North Carolina, and Notre Dame This burst at the end no doubt bumped the Blue Devils up the charts; they are the #2 seed in the West.
Michigan won the Big Ten Tournament, also with four wins in four days; this after the team’s plane slid off the runway on the way to Washington DC. Michigan (24-11) is the #7 seed in the Midwest.
The number 2 seed in the South, Kentucky, will have its work cut out. The Wildcats potentially could face #10 Wichita State, winners of 21 of their last 22 games, in the second round. Possibly awaiting the winner of that game is #3 UCLA, 29-4 and a scoring power house. Number 12 Middle Tennessee (30-4) could take down #5 Minnesota (24-9) in round one. Last year as a #15 seed the Blue Raiders upset #2 Michigan State.
In the Midwest, keep an eye on #3 Oregon (29-5). Second seed Louisville could face that hot Michigan team in round two, with the winner taking on the Ducks. Any one of those three has enough to challenge top seeded Kansas. Fifth seed Iowa State (23-10) won the Big 12 Conference Tournament, but usually disappoints early in the NCAAs. Will this team break through? The Cyclones potentially could face Kansas, whom they have beaten this season, in the Sweet Sixteen. And watch out for #13 Vermont, 28-5 and winners of 21 in a row. The Catamounts play #4 Purdue (25-7) in the first round; the Boilermakers were upset by Arkansas-Little Rock in round one last year.
In the West, #8 Northwestern is making its first appearance ever in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats (23-11) face #9 Vanderbilt (19-15) in the first round, and if they win, would likely face Gonzaga next. It could be a short trip for the Wildcats as Vandy should not be overlooked either. Arizona, the #2 seed at 30-4, would be a very formidable foe for Gonzaga should those two meet in the Elite Eight. Number six SMU (29-4) has won 16 straight and is allowing less than 60 points per game on defense. The Mustangs could give Duke problems if the two meet in the Sweet Sixteen.