There are few things more beautiful in sports than a clean and fresh-off-the-presses NCAA tournament bracket, and college basketball fans were treated to such Sunday.
The full 68-team bracket for the men's tournament was released on TBS' broadcast, and Virginia, Kansas, Villanova and Xavier were the four No. 1 seeds. They will certainly have plenty of pitfalls on the way to the Final Four, though, as there is plenty of talent dispersed across the country.
With that in mind, here is a look at the bracket, some reaction to the field from social media and a prediction for the national champion.
Printable NCAA Bracket
B/R's printable bracket with all teams entered can be found here at NCAA.com.
Seeds and Field
Twitter naturally reacted to the release of the bracket:
Bubble teams getting in are always a hot topic of discussion, and this year was no different.
That was especially the case with a number of high-profile schools eagerly awaiting their fates, including Louisville, USC, Arizona State, Syracuse and Notre Dame. Matt Norlander of CBS Sports summarized the snubs, while David Teel of the Daily Press noted conference record didn't appear to be too important this year:
Among those teams, Syracuse, Arizona State and USC generated plenty of reactions:
As has been the case for much of this season, the FBI's ongoing investigation into corruption in college basketball was a primary focal point for many:
Outside of the FBI investigation, another headline-grabber this season has been the emergence of Oklahoma's Trae Young as a superstar in the backcourt. However, his Sooners found themselves on the bubble entering Selection Sunday.
Some pointed to his star power when mentioning the Sooners making the field:
Here are some other reactions:
Predicted National Champion: Virginia
One team won the regular-season and conference tournament titles in the ACC in 2017-18, and it wasn't Duke or North Carolina.
Rather, it was the Virginia Cavaliers, and the thought here is they will parlay their head-turning 31-2 record into a national championship. This team won at Duke, beat North Carolina twice and lost just one time throughout ACC play, and it came by a single point in overtime to Virginia Tech.
Any team is susceptible to a poor shooting performance in the one-and-done pressure of the NCAA tournament, but defense consistently travels from game to game. The Cavaliers finished atop Ken Pomeroy's pace-adjusted defensive rankings despite checking in at No. 351 in tempo in a testament to how stifling they are on that end of the floor.
Don't be fooled by the low final scores of many of the Cavaliers' games either and think they struggle on the offensive end. They were No. 21 in pace-adjusted offense and can rely on the trio of Kyle Guy, Devon Hall and Ty Jerome to connect on clutch buckets from three-point range or by attacking the basket.
Virginia will be tested in the later rounds of the NCAA tournament, but it has the tendency to come through with critical defensive stops with games hanging in the balance and enough weapons on offense to find the basket on the other end.
The cliche defense wins championships doesn't always play out to be true, but it will this year when Virginia uses the best defense in the country to make the most important stops in half-court sets.