The waiting is over and we know exactly who was chosen as the one-seeds for the 2014 NCAA Championship Tournament. Here is a look at those squads and the paths they’ll have to take to get to the championship game.
Record: 32-2; 18-0 SEC
How They Got Here: Winning the SEC Tournament probably added to the fact that the Gators were able to nab the top overall seed in the tournament, but it was likely that they were going to get a one-seed no matter what happened against Kentucky on Sunday. Nonetheless, the 61-60 win over the Wildcats, along with their current 26-game win streak, assured that the Gators would be the top spot in the South Region, which means they’ll be playing their first few games just about an hour-and-a-half south of Gainesville. The only two loses on the season came within the first month of their season, and they’ve looked like a completely different, and dominate, team since Scottie Wilbekin returned. The Gators will play their first game against the winner of the First Four matchup between Albany and Mount Saint Mary’s.
What To Look Out For: The Gators should win their opening round game against whoever wins that First Four game. However, they’ll then be up against either a Colorado Buffs team that had a solid year in the Pac-12, or a Pitt team that finished the season 25-9. The road to the Final Four won’t be easy, as they’ll also be looking at potential matchups against a Cinderella team like VCU and a surprisingly good UCLA squad. And if they can make it to the Elite Eight, we could be looking at a matchup with Kansas, who some pegged to be good enough for a one-seed up until about a week ago.
Odds: The Gators have increased their odds to 11/2 after the announcement of their placement in the bracket.
Record: 30-4; 15-3 Pac-12
How They Got Here: Apparently their loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 Tournament spoke more to the potential talent of the Bruins than it did for any concerns for Arizona. Because of that, the team that spent the better part of the first half of the season as the #1 team in the nation was given the top spot in the West bracket, which also equates to the second overall seed. The Wildcats have lost three games since February 1st, all of which came to unranked teams. But with the way some other games shook out, it’s probably not a surprise that the Wildcats are a one-seed, though some may be surprised they were listed ahead of Wichita State.
What To Look Out For: The two-seed in the West is Wisconsin, who has seven losses on the season, including two in the last two weeks. But before we plan a one vs. two shodown, Arizona could potentially have a tough roadblock in their way with Oklahoma State. Don’t forget that the Cowboys were a top-10 team before Marcus Smart pushed a fan and was suspended. And while that started a tailspin of things for the Cowboys, getting to the tournament could’ve rejuvenated them. You also have an interesting Creighton team in the West, and Doug McDermott has been playing like one of the top players in the entire nation. It could be an interesting road for the Wildcats to say the least.
Odds: The Wildcats have the third-best odds at 15/2.
Wichita State Shockers
Record: 34–0; 18-0 MVC
How They Got Here: Well, going 34-0 in the regular season and running the table doesn’t hurt. It also was in their favor that this was a team that made the Final Four last year and had a 13-point lead over the eventual National Champions in their game against Louisville. However, while many assumed that the Shockers would get a one-seed, the question was whether or not they’ll be able to get the top overall seed. Not only did they not get that, but they also were edged out by Arizona for that spot in the West as well. Nonetheless, a top seed for a mid-major team is quite the accomplishment, which comes due in part because of their unblemished record.
What To Look Out For: . On top of it everything mentioned above, the selection committee did Wichita State no favors by putting them in the same conference where the Kentucky Wildcats –yes, the same Wildcats that were ranked #1 in the pre-season- were given an eight seed. That means that if Kentucky can knock off Kansas State and Wichita State can win their game, we could be looking at a massive showdown in the opening weekend of the tournament. The good news is that if Wichita State was able to beat that Wildcats team, assuming the two teams meet, then they would certainly be able to justify why they were a given a number one seed. Unfortunately, they’d then have to worry about teams like Louisville, Duke and Michigan, in what could be one of the toughest regions in the tournament.
Odds: Wichita State sits at 8/1 to win it all, but they have an incredibly tough road to follow if they want to do better than the success they had last year.
University of Virginia Mountaineers
Record: 28-6; 16-2 ACC
How They Got Here: While some teams needed a win this past weekend just to prove they belonged in the tournament, Virginia needed a win against Duke in the ACC Championship to prove that they were worthy of a number-one seed. And after their nine-point win to wrap up the ACC Tournament, they were awarded with the top spot in the East. When Virginia won the ACC regular season title, they still weren’t getting much of the respect that they deserved for such a proven team. However, they now have a huge win against Duke, as well as a win over Syracuse earlier in the season and two wins over Pittsburgh throughout the regular season and ACC Tournament. If the selection committee was telling the Mountaineers to, “come and get it,” then they certainly did that with their impressive play this past weekend.
What To Look Out For: There are a few teams that could cause concerns for UVA along the way to the Final Four. Most noticeably, Villanova and Iowa State both sit in the lower part of this bracket, and many think the Cyclones could make a big run. They are also looking at Michigan State as the four-seed, which could be a challenge if the two teams match up.
Odds: Despite being a one-seed, Virginia sits as a 20/1 favorite, which isn’t as high as some of the other ones and even twos in the other regions.