The 68-team field for the 2013 NCAA tournament is set, sporting some impressive top seeds in what is sure to be a fantastic exhibition of basketball.
Louisville grabbed the No. 1 seed for the Midwest Regional, while Kansas, Gonzaga and Indiana were awarded the top seeds for the South, West and East respectively.
With plenty of competition across the board this year, let's take a look at each top seed's chances in the tournament.
Louisville has the defense and star power (Russ Smith, Peyton Siva) to go deep in the NCAA tournament. The Cardinals rank 17th in the country in opponents' field-goal percentage and—while they rank 101st in field-goal percentage—they rank second in the nation in opponents' turnover rate, naturally giving them more opportunities to get the ball in the hoop.
I think they have the defense to get past probable Elite Eight opponent Duke, but if they meet Kansas in the Final Four, I see them ultimately losing. I like Kansas' advantage offensively and on the glass to uproot Louisville in that matchup.
Kansas is my pick to win it all this year. The Jayhawks rank 14th in field-goal percentage, 14th in rebounding rate and first in opponents' field-goal percentage this season. They have also won 10 of their last 11 contests.
The combination of star freshman guard Ben McLemore and senior center Jeff Withey gives the Jayhawks a strong one-two punch capable of catapulting them to the championship.
The biggest concern for Kansas is consistency in the tournament. The 81-58 loss to Baylor on March 9 is evidence enough.
Gonzaga has the offense, defense and rebounding to win the title this year. With talent ranging from forwards Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris to guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., this team is loaded.
On the other hand, the Bulldogs only faced three ranked teams during the regular season...and lost to two of them (Illinois, Butler).
Potential Final Four opponent Indiana may pose the biggest threat to Gonzaga. The Hoosiers can compete offensively with the Bulldogs, as well as on the glass, and they are also a strong defensive team when focused.
I see Gonzaga ultimately falling to Indiana.
Indiana could either flame out early in the tournament or win the championship.
Overall this season, this team has been excellent offensively, defensively and in the rebounding department. The Hoosiers rank seventh in field-goal percentage, 21st in opponents' field-goal percentage and 11th in rebounding rate.
On the other hand, Indiana has lost three of its last six games (Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin), allowing Ohio State to shoot 46 percent and Wisconsin to shoot 51 percent.
Indiana shouldn't have much trouble in its first two matchups of the tournament—no matter who the Hoosiers play—but Syracuse could give the squad trouble in the Sweet 16.
The Hoosiers have a tough road to the national championship game, but I do see them making it all the way. Defeating Kansas, on the other hand, will be a tough task. The Jayhawks have an interior defensive presence in Jeff Withey and one of the top players in the country in freshman guard Ben McLemore.
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