Louisville has the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and the other No. 1 seeds are Kansas, Indiana and Gonzaga. The pressure is now on all four of these teams.
A high seed comes with high expectations, and all four coaches will have the extremely difficult task of keeping their teams loose.
Only once in NCAA Tournament history have all four No. 1 seeds advanced to the Final Four. The odds are that at least one of these teams will go down before college basketball’s elite gathers in Atlanta.
Here are my predictions for how all four No. 1 seeds will do in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
The Cardinals have followed their incredible defense to the top overall seed in the tournament.
Rick Pitino has his team locking down every single opponent, and the team is No. 1 in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency rankings. This team is deep, balanced and scary good on defense.
But the Midwest is an insanely tough region, with No. 2 Duke being the main threat to knock off the Cardinals. No. 8 Colorado State, No. 7 Creighton and No. 4 Saint Louis are sleepers worth watching, while No. 3 Michigan State cannot be counted out.
Still, if there is one team in the nation equipped to handle such a difficult path to the Final Four, it is Louisville. Once they get there, they will be battle tested and ready to win a national title.
Prediction: Wins National Championship
The 2013 Bulldogs have earned a No. 1 seed for the first time in school history, and this team is chalked full of talent.
Kelly Olynyk is a force down low, and it incredibly tough to stop Mark Few’s team from scoring. Gonzaga ranked third in offensive efficiency, per Pomeroy.
However, the Bulldogs will likely have to face several extremely tough defensive teams if it hopes to make it through to Atlanta. The team may run into Wisconsin in the Sweet 16, and could face either Ohio State or New Mexico in the Elite Eight.
If Gonzaga hopes to compete for a spot in the championship game, it will probably have to find a way to win against extremely tough defenses two games in a row. With a strength of schedule that ranks 97th in the nation, the Bulldogs are not up for this challenge.
Prediction: Loses to Wisconsin in Sweet 16
There are not many inside-outside duos that stack up with Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey.
These two are the Jayhawks’ two leading scorers. Withey has a soft touch around the basket and is a monster on the boards, while McLemore has a complete offensive game that makes him a nightmare to guard.
But Kansas may run into the explosive offenses of either No. 5 VCU or No. 4 Michigan in the Sweet 16 before having to take on No. 3 Florida or No. 2 Georgetown in the Elite Eight.
This is not an easy road, but the Jayhawks have the talent and experience to come out on top of the South region and continue rolling.
Prediction: Loses to Louisville in National Championship Game
If there is an inside-outside duo better than McLemore and Withey, it is Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller.
The Hoosiers are an incredibly talented offensive team with two players capable of taking over a game. They are also used to dealing with difficult challenges in consecutive contests after winning the Big Ten regular season title.
The team has to feel good about its draw compared to some of the other regions, with No. 4 Syracuse, No. 3 Marquette and No. 2 Miami posing the greatest challenges.
This region seems destined to produce an Indiana vs. Miami matchup in the Elite Eight. The Hoosiers will have the advantage in this game and will come out on top, although the Final Four will not produce the same result.
Prediction: Loses to Kansas in the Final Four
Check out this printable bracket and one that will be updated throughout the competition.
Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.
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