With Selection Sunday rapidly approaching, it’s time to start making predictions on how the brackets will look and the field will shake out. Of course, bracketology starts with the top seeds, and that’s exactly what we’ll be projecting here.
A ton of programs have the body of work and deserve to be in consideration for one of these prestigious spots, but only four will be deemed worthy enough by the selection committee.
Let’s take a look at each region and pick the team that we feel will nab the top spot on Sunday, March 17. For a printable bracket and the full field, check PrintYourBrackets.com shortly after the announcement.
Midwest Region: Indiana Hoosiers (No. 1 Overall)
The Hoosiers have held the No. 1 spot in the AP poll for a fourth straight week and look to be cruising toward the top seed in the Big Dance.
IU has only lost three times during the 2012-13 campaign: in December in an overtime classic to Butler, to Wisconsin in mid-January and most recently by two points to Illinois on Feb. 7.
They still have tough matchups against Ohio State and Michigan to finish the year, but the stellar play of Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller have this squad rolling, and it doesn’t seem likely anyone will wrest the mantle of "top team" from Indiana.
Since the Midwest games will be taking place Indianapolis, the Hoosiers are more than likely bound for this region.
East Region: Duke Blue Devils (No. 2 Overall)
The Blue Devils have not only dominated in the ACC, but have also found a way to excel against nonconference foes this year.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s group has huge wins over then-No. 2 Louisville, then-No. 3 Kentucky and then-No. 4 Ohio State, plus a plethora of other outstanding victories against formidable foes from all over the country.
Throw in the fact that they are second to only Miami in the conference—and get to rematch the Hurricanes on March 2 to possibly steal the regular-season ACC crown—and have one of the most complete teams in college basketball, and it’s rather clear that Duke will be just behind Indiana on Selection Sunday.
Expect to see the Blue Devils dancing in the East region if things continue to shake out this way.
West Region: Gonzaga Bulldogs (No. 3 Overall)
It’s not too often that we talk about a mid-major in the running for a No. 1 seed, but these Zags have had an extraordinary year and could finish the 2012-13 campaign atop the AP poll.
In fact, in the latest edition of the organization’s Top 25 rankings, the Bulldogs slid up to the No. 2 slot and narrowly trail the Hoosiers by less than 100 points. Should Indiana fall back a game, Gonzaga will easily be able to jump up.
However, because of the lack of formidable competition this program has faced on their run—signature wins came against current No. 15 Oklahoma State on New Year's Eve, plus nice victories over Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma—they aren’t going to get much respect from the committee without winning out.
It shouldn’t be too difficult, as the final regular-season contests are at BYU and home against Portland, and then the West Coast Conference tournament shouldn’t be a problem aside from St. Mary’s.
We believe Gonzaga will win out and be awarded the No. 3 overall seed, headlining the West region.
South Region: Florida Gators (No. 4 Overall)
SEC basketball hasn’t been very impressive this year, but the Gators are a cut above the rest.
They should easily win the regular-season title, but it’s their victories over quality opponents in other conferences that will catch the eye of the committee when they make their final choice for a No. 1 seed.
Florida managed to knock off then-No. 22 Wisconsin, then-No. 17 Missouri and then-No. 16 Ole Miss and pick up solid wins over Marquette and Middle Tennessee. Billy Donovan's team has a chance to finish strong against Alabama, Vanderbilt and Kentucky (in a much-hyped rematch).
The Gators will certainly need to make a nice run in the SEC tourney, but it seems that they will be dancing as a No. 1 seed in the South region.