March Madness has officially arrived. The NCAA Championship Committee revealed the 68-team arc live on CBS Sunday night, so the ratings were closed, matches were decided, and the lasting drama of the bubble finally appeared.
At the top of the arc, Gonzaga, as expected, grabbed the top seed on the committee and will play outside the Western District. It’s the fifth time under Mark Few that the Bulldogs have been ranked #1 and the second time in as many years they will enter the tournament as the #1 seed overall. They are joined on the first seed line by Arizona (Southern District), Kansas (Midwest District) and Baylor (Eastern District)
Auburn (Midwest) and Kentucky (East) were headlined by the following teams in second place by the committee after both turned out impressive resumes which might have been good enough for the first seed if not for an early exit from the SEC Championship. Villanova (south) and Doc (west) are the field’s last #2 seed.
In the bubble drama, Sunday caused some change of scenery after Richmond won the A-10 race and stole a show from teams on the bubble. The commission said Indiana, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Wyoming were the last four teams to enter the field. However, Dayton, Oklahoma, SMU and Texas A&M weren’t so lucky, and they were the first teams to walk out of the field this year.
Here are some takeaways from the reveal of the 2022 NCAA Championship bracket on Selection Sunday.
1. Top seed Gonzaga gets a tough draw
As a reward for earning the top seed in the tournament, the panel suspended the Zags with a glove from an area. In the West, Duke is No. 2, Texas Tech is No. 3 and Arkansas is No. 4. Each of these teams can be in the Final Four, and each has unique challenges if they face Gonzaga. Now, the Bulldogs are the best team in the tournament for a reason, and they have the goods to beat the tough draw. But it’s about as brutal a territory as it can get. Even if their way to the Final Four for the third time in the last four slams will only involve Arkansas and one Duke or Texas Tech, that’s a bad track and they’ll definitely get it.
2. Richmond steals the Dayton spot
Richmond’s victory in Sunday’s A-10 title match over top seed Davidson sent a major show thief into the mix on the final day of the match. The win that moved Dayton from the last team at The field for the first team Outside From the Field – A point emphasized by NCAA Division I Basketball Committee Chairman Tom Burnett on a CBS broadcast. It’s a double whammy after Richmond knocked out the Flyers from the A-10 Championship on Saturday.
3. Tennessee gets a job with seed number 3
Despite winning the SEC Championship and entering Sunday’s Selection Show as winners of 15 of the last 17, Tennessee has attracted the No. 3 seed in the South – arguably the most under-seeded team. I’ll let my colleague Matt Norlander explain.
It is a huge shock to the system to see the bean as a 3 seed and Duke as a binary seed in the West. On the face of it, however, it might work. The South is a much more winnable area than the West, where Duke is located, and there is a real chance the Vols continue their amazing few weeks with a deep run.
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