Why did Coach K get sent out West, despite the familiar faces at the top of this bracket — Gonzaga and Kansas, Baylor — as well as the well-worn debates throughout it? Did Dayton get it wrong? This Selection Sunday felt just as good as an Air Jordan.
March Madness is back, or as close as normal can get. This means that all those incredible upsets and once in a lifetime game-winners will be played in front of huge crowds for only the third time in three years.
Jay Wright, Villanova’s coach, said that this was a special year for everyone because they all realized what they had missed. Jay Wright won the Big East title with Villanova’s second-seeded team in front of a full house at Madison Square Garden.
Gonzaga is the overall top-seed, with Arizona and Kansas joining them on the “1” line in this “seems old times” NCAA Tournament. This is the first time since 2019 that it will be played in different American cities and times zones. New Orleans will host the Final Four and Championship game on April 2nd.
It’s a return back to the way things were prior to the pandemic that took the tournament off the 2020 calendar. The 2021 event was then made a one-city-fits all affair. All the games were played in a bubble in front limited crowds around Indianapolis.
John Calipari (coach of Kentucky’s second-seeded team) said, “It’s about staying in the moment and having fun more than anyone in the tournament.”
Winning it all is the best way to have fun. Baylor achieved that feat last year, winning the title game over Gonzaga. Both are No. Both are No. 1 seeds, with the Zags being the 15-4 favorite to win , according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Arizona came in second at 6-1, followed closely by Kentucky (15-2), and Baylor (1-11).
In an interview with ESPN, Gonzaga’s Drew Timme described last year’s second place finish as “a great learning experience”. Things didn’t go as we expected. It allowed us to grow as individuals. We are excited for this challenge.”
Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe is one of many who have switched schools through the “transfer portal”, which has a knack for changing college hoops in a blink of an eye.
Kofi Cockburn leads No. 4 Illinois will face Chattanooga in the first round, while freshman JabariSmith leads the slumping No. 2 Auburn to the Midwest Region. This region will host a matchup against LSU, the conference rival, who fired coach Will Wade earlier in the week.
Mike Krzyzewski retired last year, and Duke is playing as No. 2 seed in the West. A second round matchup against Tom Izzo or Michigan State could be part of his road to the 13th Final Four. Some thought that Coach K might be sent to Chicago and the Midwest to play in the Sweet 16, but it would instead be a trip down to San Francisco with the possibility of meeting Mark Few’s Bulldogs.
It’s one thing for a team to face a difficult bracket; it’s quite another to not be there at all. Dayton, Oklahoma and Texas A&M were “first four out” meaning that there is still hope for them in the event of a late withdrawal because COVID-19.
Xavier was not even on the list. This made him one of the biggest snubs of the evening. According to Dick Vitale the national treasure, who was made to write down everything on a whiteboard — not shout about — as he rests his vocal chords following cancer treatments.
Dayton would have been in if it weren’t for the upset in the Atlantic 10 conference tournament. Richmond swept past Davidson to win the title. Davidson made it into the field, but Dayton didn’t.
Tom Burnett, chair of the selection committee, stated that “our committee really loved Dayton.” They were worthy of consideration but they didn’t make it to the ‘first four out” list.
The No. 12 seeds Wyoming and Indiana will face off in the First Four. No. Rutgers and Notre Dame were the other two last-placed teams, while Michigan was also seeded eleventh.
The nation’s top nine Big Ten teams are the Fighting Irish, Hoosiers, and Wolverines. This is the same number as last year, but only one conference team moved to the second weekend. Six teams were placed by the Big East, Big 12 or Southeastern Conference.