Selection Sunday recap: Arizona, Gonzaga, Kansas, Baylor are men's No. 1 seeds as March Madness brackets revealed
The march to a title begins now, with the announcement of the matchups in the 2022 NCAA men's basketball tournament. The top seeds in each region are Gonzaga (West), Arizona (South), Kansas (Midwest) and Baylor (East).
Meanwhile on the women's side, the No. 1 seeds are South Carolina (Greensboro), Stanford (Spokane), Louisville (Wichita) and N.C. State (Bridgeport).
The women’s bracket previously came out the Monday after the men's. With the tournament expanding to 68 teams for the first time, the women are sharing the spotlight. Unlike last year, when the tournaments were played in centralized locations, there will be first- and second-round and regional sites before the Final Four.
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Follow along as USA TODAY Sports analyzes the brackets, snubs, reactions and predictions.
Remember this time last year, when there was near-universal outage directed at the NCAA for its condescending and sexist view of the women’s basketball tournament and the athletes playing in it?
The weight room that wasn’t? The dismal food? The tournament swag that couldn’t have been worse had it been re-gifts?
Keep that energy up. Because while the NCAA will trumpet the steps it has taken toward equity, they are little more than cosmetic, measures that could have been done – but weren’t – the minute last year’s tournament ended.
USA TODAY Sports' Nancy Armour writes that it is both unacceptable and utterly mind-boggling that, almost 50 years after Title IX became law, the NCAA could have been so dismissive of its women athletes. While it should be enough to treat women equally simply because it’s the right thing to do, failing to do so is costing the NCAA, TV networks and sponsors.
Gonzaga headlines the West Region as the No. 1 overall seed in the men's tournament. The No. 1 team in the final Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll of the regular season, the Bulldogs will get started against No. 16 Georgia State, winners of the Sun Belt conference tournament.
Arizona tops the South Region. The Wildcats are 31-3 under first-year coach Tommy Lloyd, a former Gonzaga assistant, and head into the tournament having won six in a row and 15 of 16. They’ll open against the winner of the play-in game between No. 16 seeds Wright State and Bryant.
Over in the Midwest Region. Kansas won the Big 12 Conference tournament to join conference rival Baylor on the top line of seeds. The Jayhawks begin against either No. 16 Texas Southern or No. 16 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi before facing the winner of No. 8 San Diego State against No. 9 Creighton.
And in the East Region, the Bears begin their title defense against No. 16 Norfolk State.
Star power and brand names abound in the East, beginning with defending national champion Baylor, the No. 1 seed. And while the Bears are joined by another handful of national programs – No. 2 Kentucky, No. 4 UCLA and No. 8 North Carolina, to name a few – the best first-round matchup comes between two mid-majors: No. 7 Murray State against No. 10 San Francisco.
Watch out for a sleeper team from out west. No. 5 Saint Mary’s finished 1.5 games behind No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga in the WCC and was responsible for the Bulldogs’ only league loss, in late February.
The final NCAA Tournament of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s career will send the Blue Devils to Greenville, S.C., as the No. 2 seed in the West Region.
They'll open up against No. 15 Cal State Fullerton, the winners of the Big West Conference tournament.
While the program's postseason track record under Krzyzewski is nearly unrivaled — he's claimed five national championships — there have been slipups in the first round: Duke has lost in the opening game four times under Krzyzewski, including a memorable loss to Lehigh as a No. 2 seed in 2012.
But bigger challenges await should the Blue Devils get past the Titans, beginning with a matchup against the winner of No. 7 seed Michigan State against No. 10 Davidson for the right to advance into the Sweet 16.
Take a closer look at Duke's strengths, weaknesses and what stands in the Blue Devils' path to the Final Four.
It would be a storybook scenario if Duke were able to reach the Final Four in Mike Krzyzewski's final season. The No. 2 seed Blue Devils already boast a win against top-seeded Gonzaga on a neutral floor this season, too, so the possibility is there in the West Region.
Gonzaga is looking to go one better this season after losing to Baylor in the national title game. With Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren leading the way, the nation's No. 1 scoring offense (87.8 ppg) has too much firepower for the rest of the regional.
Arkansas was one of the hottest teams in the nation before being knocked off in the SEC tournament. The fourth-seeded Razorbacks have the athletes and tournament experience -- they made the Elite Eight last year -- to push the Bulldogs, however it's difficult to go with anyone else to reach New Orleans.
The men's NCAA tournament selection committee never has an easy job. But it's a job that comes with warranted scrutiny.
Tthe committee surely botched some seeding lines and matchups on this year's bracket. There was a strong favoritism toward the Big Ten on the bubble line, whereas the Big 12 got way under-seeded.
Here are the six biggest mistakes made by the committee – with three teams over-seeded (including No. 11 Michigan) and three teams under-seeded (led by No. 11 seed Iowa State).
It seems too easy to simply pencil in the top seed. Only once in the history of March Madness have all four No. 1’s made it to the Final Four.
Bearing that in mind, Kansas is still the pick in the Midwest Region. Second-seeded Auburn’s recent results suggest it is a prime candidate for an early exit.
As for a sleeper, you’d be hard pressed to find a more dangerous team than Iowa right now. The Hawkeyes’ blend of experience and multiple scoring options that led them to the league tourney title will make this No. 5 seed a tough out should they reach the tournament’s second weekend.
Arizona has been arguably the most complete team in the country this season, but the best matchup in the opening round in the South Region looks like an old Conference USA clash between Houston and UAB. Both were founding members of the league in 1995 and had dozens of entertaining battles in the early 2000s.
Loyola Chicago always makes sure we don’t forget about the Ramblers — and Sister Jean — in March. Though the Ramblers are merely the 10th seed here, they’re the 24th-ranked team in the country per the Pomeroy ratings and have been particularly stingy on defense under first-year head coach Drew Valentine.
After a semifinal loss to Memphis in the American Athletic tournament, SMU coach Tim Jankovich said he felt sick to his stomach at the idea of being left out of the NCAA Tournament field.
"I've been in too many situations like this one where you’re right there," said Jankovich, the Mustangs' seven-year coach who has experienced the dark side of the bubble with SMU and in his previous job as head coach at mid-major Illinois State. "It’s not fun. I don't wish it on anyone. ... I want this team to go. I want this team to experience it as a group. They deserve it."
Unfortunately, the Mustangs were left on the outside looking in. SMU was one of seven schools USA TODAY Sports' Scott Gleeson highlights as the top snubs from the men's tournament field.
One week after the Hawkeyes women’s team won the conference crown in Indianapolis, the men's squad – seeded fifth – made it an Iowa sweep.
These Hawkeyes defeated Purdue on Sunday, 75-66. Purdue is expected to be a No. 3 seed, while it will be interesting to see if the win can push Iowa to a No. 4 seed (currently projected to be a 5).
The win, Iowa's fourth in four days, was a true team effort.
For the second straight season, the Houston Cougars are the men's American Athletic Conference tournament champions. Houston has been a ranked team all season, but its lack of Quad 1 wins and other metrics make the Cougars a difficult team to seed.
Programs across the country are a ball of nerves this Sunday, especially those that lack control over their destiny and at this point are at the mercy of the Committees.
A look at how the bubble may shake out in both tournaments.
Last four in: Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Rutgers, Michigan.
First four out: Xavier, SMU, BYU, Dayton.
Women (via ESPN’s Charlie Creme)
Last four in: Villanova, Missouri, Missouri State, Dayton
First four out: Northwestern, Boston College, DePaul, UCLA
There is a new Ferris Mowers men’s coaches poll to digest before the brackets go live. Gonzaga retained its top spot with Arizona at No. 2. Kansas, Baylor and Villanova round out the top five.
This has happened before. The men’s bracket leaked in 2016, and it happened on the women’s side in 2019. The NCAA and its broadcast partners have put a clamp on the leaks recently, in addition to speeding up the shows and eliminating a contrived sense of suspense.
Beware of Twitter spoilers before the schools pop up on-screen.
Sixth-seeded Richmond upset top-seeded Davidson 64-62 to claim the Atlantic 10 tournament title and an unlikely spot in the men's NCAA tourney.
The upstart Spiders (23-12), who led by as many as nine points earlier in the game, saw their lead disappear until Matt Grace converted a three-point play with 19.1 seconds left on the clock to put Richmond back on top. The field goal and free throw were Grace's only points of the game.
Davidson had a shot to tie or go ahead in the final seconds, but couldn't convert.
The Tigers (27-6) will now need to wait and see if they'll receive an at-large bid when the NCAA field is announced this evening.
Richmond returns to the men's tourney for the first time since reaching the Sweet 16 in 2011.
USA TODAY Sports columnist Dan Wolken wonders whether the Atlantic Coast Conference, typically a men’s basketball powerhouse, is up to snuff this year. Because, as he writes, the group looks like a mishmash of fading powers and underachievers.
The conference could have four or five teams in the Big Dance. The ACC will have more teams (projected to be eight) in the women’s bracket.
On Saturday, ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme put Baylor on the 1-line. A win over Texas in the women's Big 12 tournament final would have surely guaranteed their spot there. But the Bears fell to the Longhorns 67-58 for their first Big 12 tournament title since 2003. It was Texas' second win against Baylor since 2011.
Has Baylor done enough for the fourth No. 1?
In the women's field: American beat Bucknell 65-54 to win their third Patriot League championship, and Mount St. Mary's topped Bryant 60-42 to win the NEC Tournament and automatic qualification into the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. Delaware is the champion of the Colonial. Texas took out Baylor in the Big 12 and Illinois State survived against Northern Iowa to win the Missouri Valley.
In the men's field: Yale knocked off Princeton 66-64 to advance to NCAA Tournament for third time in last five opportunities, while Tennessee won its first SEC tournament in 43 years. Richmond is also in.
Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon nailed a clutch 3-pointer inside of one second remaining against Indiana to send the Hawkeyes to Sunday’s Big Ten final.
He and other NCAA stars used the extra year of eligibility granted due to the coronavirus pandemic. The game has matured because of the added experience.
"College basketball is really special and will go down as one of the best times of my life. Who wouldn't want another (season) to play in March Madness?” Villanova’s Collin Gillespie told USA TODAY Sports. “It was a dream of mine growing up as a kid that I get to live out one last time."
It was an impressive run for Texas A&M at the SEC Tournament. It wasn’t enough to secure an automatic bid, as Tennessee won the championship game, 65-50, on Sunday.
For the Volunteers, it’s their first SEC tournament title since 1979. They should be a solid No. 2 seed. However, the Aggies must now await their fate during the selection show, although their trio of wins this week certainly helped their case.
Diagnosed with lymphoma six months ago, ESPN men’s college basketball announcer Dick Vitale currently has no voice following an operation on his vocal chords.
"Not being able to communicate has me crying my eyes out," Vitale, 82, told USA TODAY Sports through text messages.
Vitale will have an evaluation to check his voice on March 16 – the day before the first round of the men's NCAA Tournament.
"This was the start of my own March Madness bracket as this gets me to my personal Final Four," Vitale said. "Now I get to cut down the nets and get my voice back. Getting back my ability to speak would be my national championship."
The Kansas Jayhawks, fresh off their Big 12 tournament championship, appear poised to claim one of the four No. 1 seeds when the NCAA men's brackets are revealed.
Kansas is also at the top of the list when it comes to the salary of head coach Bill Self. A complicated contractual arrangement constructed in 2012 has made Self the nation's highest-paid men's basketball coach -- with a total compensation for the 2021-22 season of $10.2 million.
The salary figures for all public school men's basketball teams is part of USA TODAY Sports' annual report on coaches' compensation. Rounding out the top five behind Self are John Calipari of Kentucky, Tom Izzo of Michigan State, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Jay Wright of Villanova.
The latest USA TODAY Sports men's bracketology laid out why the projected No. 1 seeds are the four teams deserving of the top line.
Meanwhile, ESPN's women's predictions said that Baylor's win over Oklahoma in the Big 12 semifinals Saturday moved the Bears to a No. 1 seed. They play Texas, a potential No. 2 seed, in the finals Sunday.