March Madness 2018: Tournament Schedule, Bracket Predictions for No. 1 Seeds

March Madness 2018: Tournament Schedule, Bracket Predictions for No. 1 Seeds

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Amid all the chaos and turnover in the
top 25 this season, some of the elite
programs in men’s basketball have risen
to the top over the last few weeks.
Throughout the course of the 2017-18 season, plenty
of teams have made a legitimate case for a No. 1 seed,
but only few have remained at the forefront of the discussion
ahead of Selection Sunday.
No matter what happens during the conference tournaments,
Virginia and Villanova appear to have a lock
on two of the four No. 1 seeds, but the other two are
up for grabs depending on what occurs over the next
two weeks.
Just because a team receives a No. 1 seed this season
doesn’t mean it has a clear path to the Final Four, as
plenty of surprising results are expected to occur with
no truly dominant team in the sport.
Selection Sunday (March 11)
First four (March 13 and 14)
First round (March 15 and 16)
Second round (March 17 and 18)
Sweet 16 (March 22 and 23)
Elite 8 (March 24 and 25)
Final Four (March 31)
National Championship (April 2)
No. 1 Seed Predictions
Virginia
Virginia has avoided the
chaos that has engulfed
college basketball, as it’s
put together a 15-1 record in
ACC play.
The only stumble by the
top-ranked team in the nation
came in an overtime
loss to Virginia Tech on February 10.
With two games remaining, the Cavaliers have locked
up the ACC regular-season title and earned the No. 1
seed at the ACC tournament.
As long as they win one game at the Barclays Center,
the Cavaliers should assure themselves of being
among the top seeds on Selection Sunday on March 11.
Tony Bennett’s team may play a boring style in the eyes
of some outside observers, but it’s been effective in a
year in which every side in the nation has been susceptible
to multiple upsets.
The top-ranked Cavaliers are led by senior Devon Hall
and sophomores Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome. Guy leads
Virginia with 14.5 points per game, while Hall is averaging
11.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per contest.
Jerome leads the team with 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals
per game, and he is a 90.3-percent shooter from the
free-throw line.
The Cavaliers appear to be poised to make a deep run
in the NCAA tournament, but all it takes is one offensive game plan to tear their packline defense to shreds for
their title hopes to come crashing down.
Villanova
Villanova hasn’t been as
perfect as we’d like it to
be in February to put a
firm lock on a No. 1 seed,
but it has put itself in position
to do so with a pair
of victories over Xavier in
Big East play.
Losses to St. John’s,
Creighton and Providence have proved the Wildcats
aren’t untouchable, but you have to give them credit
for showing up in the biggest game of their season to
date against Xavier on February 17.
The 95-79 victory over the Musketeers handed the
Wildcats an advantage in the discussion for a No. 1
seed despite being one game behind Xavier in the
loss column in the Big East standings.
A third win over Xavier in the Big East
tournament would solidify Villanova’s
resume, which includes nonconference
wins over Gonzaga and
Tennessee.
With five players shooting
better than 40 percent
from three-point
range, the Wildcats can
pummel any opponent
with their play beyond
the arc.
However, there will come
a game in March where
big men Omari Spellman
and Eric Paschall are
forced to lead the team as
an opponent keys in on stopping
the three-point barrage.
As long as Spellman and Paschall
pack a punch inside, the Wildcats
should have enough of a well-rounded
game to get them to the Final Four.
Kansas
Kansas deserves a No. 1
seed in the NCAA tournament
after working its
way through the minefield
that was the Big 12 regular
season.
The Jayhawks weren’t
perfect by any stretch of
the imagination, but they
turned it up to a championship
gear no one else in the conference has to
close out their 14th-straight regular-season title.
Coach Bill Self’s team is peaking at the right moment
with five consecutive victories, including wins over
West Virginia and Texas Tech.
Even if the Jayhawks don’t win the Big 12 tournament,
they should be in good shape to secure a No. 1 seed
with a trio of top-10 victories a part of their 5-3 record
against top-25 teams.
The strength of the Big 12 should also push the Jayhawks
among the top seeds on Selection Sunday, but
just because they survived the Big 12 doesn’t mean
they’ll go far in the NCAA tournament.
The Jayhawks lack consistency in the paint, and it
wouldn’t be surprising if opponents force Udoka
Azubuike, who is a 44.2 percent free-throw shooter, to
beat them at the free-throw line.
Devonte Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk provide
Kansas with senior leadership, and both are capable
of winning games by themselves.
However, they must receive contributions from the
supporting cast of Malik Newman, Lagerald Vick and
Azubuike in order to stay alive past the first weekend
of the NCAA tournament.
Michigan
State
The final No. 1 seed should
be determined during the
conference tournaments.
Xavier appears to be in
good position to earn it,
but a loss to Villanova in the
Big East tournament could
drop it down to a No. 2 seed if
Michigan State controls the Big
Ten tournament.
The Spartans aren’t the sexy pick to
earn a No. 1 seed based off how poor the
Big Ten is as a league compared to the Big East or
Big 12, but they’ve made a significant claim with a 12-
game winning streak that dates back to January 19.
However, the only victory over a ranked team during
that stretch came on February 10 against Purdue,
who at one time appeared to be a lock for a top seed
in March.
Head coach Tom Izzo’s squad has an opportunity to
solidify a resume that includes a trio of wins over top-
10 teams with a Big Ten tournament title.
If the Spartans play up to their potential in the NCAA
tournament, they could be hard to beat, as they possess
a versatile group with five players averaging over
11 points per game.
Miles Bridges gets most of the spotlight, and deservedly
so, but Cassius Winston is one of the best distributors
in the nation, while Jaren Jackson Jr. is poised to
have a breakout tournament and show he’s the most
dominant freshman in college basketball.

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