Nobody likes a bully, so this year the
No team close to being undefeated, none teeming with future top-10
To be sure, there are plenty of very good teams, just none anointed for greatness like unbeaten
The top seeds this year went to the familiar —
The NCAA showed due respect to the
But nowhere in a single bracket is that one team intimidating all below. Parity has been college basketball's refrain this season and it could make for one of its most interesting tournaments. Six different teams have been ranked No. 1 this season. Top-10 teams suffered 74 losses during the season, the most since the Associated Press launched its top 25 poll in 1948. Every team is free to dream big.
Jay Rood, the vice president of the race and sports books for MGM Resorts, sets the betting line on the tournament there and is pressed to remember a field this wide open.
“The last few years, there's been at least one, possibly two or three pretty elite teams that factored in for being in the Final Four,” Rood said. “But I think you could make a case for easily 12 teams this year and possibly more.”
This year the monster freshman class never materialized. Ben Simmons may be the best freshman in the country, but his Louisiana State team failed to even make the tournament. Kentucky's annual restocking of phenoms failed to deliver its typical weekly beatings. The
Certainly, 2016 is not providing the four most imposing No. 1 seeds ever presented. Kansas chimes in with the best record and is the overall No. 1 seed. The Jayhawks are 30-4 and have won 14 consecutive games, and if ever there is a right time to get hot, this is it. But Kansas also lost early to Michigan State and during one five-game stretch in January dropped three games.
Virginia fell in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final to North Carolina on Saturday, but still earned a No. 1 seeding ahead of Michigan State, which won the Big Ten tournament Sunday. That may not prove much of a slight, however, since the Spartans were seeded second in the same Midwest Regional with Virginia. Going into Sunday, Rood had Michigan State listed as his tournament favorite.
The suspense over who was in and where they were seeded was oddly muted when a filled-out bracket was posted on Twitter during the CBS selection show. An hour later, the bracket was proved to be 100% correct.
Of the six teams to be ranked No. 1 this season, only Kansas and North Carolina earned a No. 1 seeding. The others:
And then it's everybody into the pool.
Last year's champion, perennial power
Three of the Pac-12 teams are jammed in the South with No. 1 Kansas.
Should USC get past a strong Providence team, it would likely meet the East's top seed, North Carolina. Not that Trojans Coach
Hey, it's the tournament to dream big. Unless, of course, you were left with your nose against the glass.
Remember when Monmouth was everyone's early-season darling after upsets of UCLA, USC,
Other mid-majors also took hits. St. Mary's won the
There's being upset, and then there are upsets. Upsets have been the fashion this season in college basketball, and without a truly elite team in attendance, the tournament could provide an enduring signature to its curious season.