NCAA Basketball: Predicting the Number 1s in the Big Dance
After not getting it last year, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is slated to begin in just a week or so. Fans of all D-1 college basketball institutions are currently clamoring while watching their conference championships with the hope that their squad claws in to “The Big Dance”. As it stands now, the number one seed in the tournament overall would have to be COVID-19. After all, COVID-19 has knocked out the stable powerhouse Duke and the consistent ACC Champion and current NCAA Tournament Champion Virginia. So as it stands now, who is the four number one seeds that hope to not face the same upset that Virginia faced against UMBC a few years ago. Let’s break down this year’s NCAA Tournament top seeds.
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This seems like the easiest number one to pencil in as of this moment. Headed into the tournament with a 26-0 record, the Zags as they are affectionately known beat opponents by an average of 23 points. They also led the nation in the NCAA’s Net ranking all season despite not playing in a power five conference. The Bulldogs began the season with two huge wins against the number six (Kansas) and eleven (West Virginia) teams in the nation. On the off chance, you needed more proof, ESPN reports that twenty percent of the players on the ballot for the John R. Wooden award hailed from Gonzaga.
A bit of a surprise pick, but with the Michigan Wolverines losing two out of their last three, there is a chance for the Illinois Fighting Illini to sneak into one of the top seeds on selection Sunday. While Michigan lost two out of their final three NCAA regular-season games, Illinois won their last three. It is important to note that all three of those final wins were against ranked opponents. The wins came against number 21 Wisconsin, number 7 Ohio State, and it even included a 76-53 win against the Wolverines. If there is one thing that is certain about this Illinois team, it’s that they came to play. Watch out for them surprising some folks if they get into the tournament as the number one seed in a region.
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With the most quality wins in the Big 12 and the second best NET score behind previously mentioned Gonzaga, the Baylor Bears are a surefire number one seed in the big dance. Baylor is currently sitting at a 22-1 record. Their only loss was against number 19 Kansas which helps their chances as well. In addition to the NET rating, Baylor also has six quadrant I wins. Quadrant I wins are wins against NCAA teams that are top 25 at home and top 75 on the road.
Despite losing two out of their last three, Michigan can be a number one seed headed into this NCAA Tournament. The reason for this is because the team’s resume can not be ignored. The Wolverines have not been a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament since 1993 so they are itching to put themselves in this position. Michigan is No. 3 in the AP poll, but more importantly, it is also No. 3 in the NET which is something that the selection committee likes. The Wolverines also clinched the Big 10 regular-season crown and because of the depth of the conference that will make it almost impossible for them to drop out of one of the top seeds
Going into March Madness it will be interesting to see how things fall. As always there will be upsets, maybe even one of the number one seeds in this list will end up upset by some lower-ranked squad.
Who are your top seeds headed into the tournament? Leave a comment below.
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