NCAA Bracket 2013 Predictions: Projecting Top Seed in Each Region

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16:  Louisville Cardinals players celebrate on the bench against the Syracuse Orange during the final of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 16, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Before Selection Sunday is complete, there are sure to be some heartbroken teams left out of the field of 68, and some other jubilant teams just happy to have a shot.

But while mid-majors and bubble teams have a chance to surprise, the nation's top squads will be the ones we pencil through round after round on our brackets. In the spirit of top seeds, it's time we take a closer look at which teams will be wearing the corner of the bracket.

Below we'll project the No. 1 seed in each region of the 2013 NCAA tournament bracket.


East Region: Duke Blue Devils (27-5, 14-4 ACC)

Duke's early exit from the ACC tournament in Greensboro has cast doubts on whether the Blue Devils will begin the NCAA tournament from the top of their region as a No. 1 seed. But the most important record to remember is 18-1.

That's Duke's record this season with senior forward Ryan Kelly on the court.

The Blue Devils are a different team with Kelly on the floor, evidenced by their impressive wins over Miami and North Carolina upon his return this March.

Mike Krzyzewski has done a terrific job yet again this season, as all five of Duke's losses have come on the road or at a neutral site.

The argument can be made that two losses to Maryland suggest the Blue Devils are a flawed team, but it's impossible to argue that there's a single team out there that's been more consistent than Duke all season long.

Plus, the Blue Devils have nonconference victories over Louisville (a potential No. 1 seed) and Ohio State (which could win the Big Ten tournament on Sunday).


Midwest Region: Indiana Hoosiers (27-6, 14-4 Big Ten)

Although the Hoosiers have given the Selection Committee something to think about after going out in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament to Wisconsin, Indiana's body of work suggests that it will be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Tom Crean's squad has dropped six games all year, has never lost back-to-back games and finished the regular season 14-4 in what many believe is the best conference in college basketball, the Big Ten.

Indiana's 12-point loss to Wisconsin in Chicago on Saturday was its largest margin of defeat this season and the first time the Hoosiers were beaten by double figures.

Led by National Player of the Year candidates in 7'0" sophomore forward Cody Zeller and sensational junior guard Victor Oladipo, the Hoosiers have been one of the most consistent and dominant teams across America this year.


South Region: Louisville Cardinals (29-5, 14-4 Big East)

If the first nine of Louisville's last 10 games weren't enough to convince the Selection Committee that the Cardinals are a worthy No. 1 seed, then Saturday's incredible comeback win over Syracuse in the Big East Championship Game certainly sealed the deal.

Despite trailing by 13 at halftime and by 16 in the second half, the Cardinals mounted a 27-3 run and went on to blow out the Orange by 17 points in New York.

If there's anything holding Rick Pitino's squad back in terms of earning a top seed, it's his team's three-game losing streak back in January, in which Louisville lost to Syracuse, Villanova and Georgetown in the course of a week.

Still, it's very hard to argue with the Cardinals' 10-0 record over their last 10 games. They are by far the hottest team in the country and quite possibly the best.


West Region: Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-2, 16-0 WCC)

Mark Few's Bulldogs are the top-ranked team in the country and have lost just two games all season long. The West Coast Conference champion, Gonzaga heads into the NCAA tournament having won 14 straight games.

Led by Kelly Olynyk, Elias Harris and Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga is seen as a lock for the tournament's top overall seed and will likely be headed to the West region in order to play close to home.

Most will be hesitant to predict the Bulldogs to win it all this March on their brackets, considering Gonzaga's top wins have come against Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

Neither of those two wins are anything to sneeze at, but the Zags' weak conference schedule will likely make them underdogs at some point along the way.

Still, No. 1 seeds are awarded based on a team's entire body of work, and Gonzaga has been dominant over the course of the entire season. The Bulldogs have a 30-2 record to prove it.

Be sure to watch Selection Sunday at 6 p.m. ET to see which 68 teams will go dancing this March and print off a 2013 NCAA tournament bracket.


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