It’s Championship Week in NCAA Men’s College Basketball. By Sunday afternoon on March 11, almost all seeds for the 2018 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament will have been set. After games on Monday and Tuesday, March 12 and March 13, the entire 64-Team NCAA Tournament bracket will have been set.
We’ll know exactly which teams are the top seeds in each region for the USA’s next great sports event. Check out who I believe the Top 4 seeds in this year’s NCAA Tournament would be if the tourney started today.
2018 March Madness Top 4 Seeds
Although it won’t be too long before we know which teams grab the top seeds, my thinking is, “Why wait?” I’ve got a pretty good idea of what might happen in the individual conference tournaments. My guess is that the ACC, like it often does, rises to the top to produce 2 of the 4 number 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
Which two ACC teams do I like? The number 1 ranked team in the nation, the Virginia Cavaliers, are absolutely one of the squads. The other squad I like from the ACC to grab a number 1 are the Duke Blue Devils. Coach K might have the best team he’s ever coached at Duke since the Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner years. That would be 1990 through 1992.
I also like the two best teams from the Big East, Villanova and Xavier, to grab number one seeds. I can’t back Michigan State after their loss to Michigan on Feb. 3. I haven’t been sold on Purdue this season. No team in the Pac 12 deserves mentioning for a 1 seed while the perennial powerhouse on the west coast, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, had a decent, but not great season.
That leaves two teams from the two best college basketball conferences to grab 1 seeds. Keep reading for a deeper dive!
South: Virginia Cavaliers 13/2
The Virginia Cavaliers haven’t lost since a shocking 60 to 61 “L” at the hands of interstate rival Virginia Tech. The Hokies played better defense than Virginia in that game. The Cavs decided to turn up the defensive pressure in a 59 to 50 win over Miami, a 65 to 54 win over Georgia Tech, and an incredible 66 to 37 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Virginia’s defense remains the best in college basketball. Virginia allows 52.8 points per game on average. That ranks first in college hoops. They allow opponents to shoot 37.5% from the field. That ranks third in college hoops while opponents shoot less than 30% from the three-point line versus Virginia’s D.
What makes the Virginia Cavaliers so exceptionally difficult to beat is that while they shut your offense down on defense, the Cavs’ offense is efficient. Virginia averages 46% shooting from the field. The Cavs average 39% shooting from three. Virginia scores 67.3 points per game on average.
What Can Derail Virginia’s March to a 1-Seed?
The Cavaliers haven’t looked all that great in their last couple of games before the ACC Tournament. UVA beat Louisville 67 to 66. They could only take down Notre Dame by 5 points in a 62 to 57 win. Although when you base your success around defense you’re bound to play close games, only beating Louisville, who might not even make the tournament, by a single point is a bad sign.
Granted, the Cavaliers could simply step it up in the NCAA Tournament. I’m not sure that will be the case. Virginia’s D might still be fantastic. However, opposing coaches might have figured out how to keep the Cavaliers from pulling away with their efficient offense. If that’s why Notre Dame and Louisville stuck so close to the Cavaliers in their latest games, things could get dicey for UVA before the NCAA Tournament.
If Virginia were to lose early in this week’s ACC Tournament, the Selection Committee might be hard-pressed to leave Virginia out of the Top 4.
West: Duke Blue Devils 7/1
All odds posted here are from Vegas Insider. Vegas Insider posted these odds before the Duke Blue Devils squashed the North Carolina Tar Heels 74 to 64 on March 3. Don’t be surprised if Duke becomes a 5 to 1 favorite to win the 2018 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament before the ACC Tournament starts on March 7.
The Blue Devils were awesome in that win. They held the Tar Heels to 37.1% from the field. North Carolina only made 26 of 70 shots. When it came to three-point defense, the Blue Devils held the Heels to less than 26%. UNC only made 8 of 31 three-point shots.
What was more impressive? Duke was down 10 points, 25 to 35, at halftime. The Blue Devils stepped it up both offensively and defensively after halftime. Duke outscored their biggest rivals 49 to 29 in the second half. That’s an incredible turn of events in a rivalry game.
What Will Keep Duke From Grabbing a 1-Seed?
After the victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels, the Dookies ran their record to 25 and 6. They finished second to Virginia in the ACC Regular Season. Duke must win the ACC Tournament to grab a 1-seed. Although Michigan State failed in the Big Ten Tournament, the Spartans have been ranked higher than Duke for most of the season.
Should Duke falter in the ACC Tournament, the best they’d probably get is a 2-seed somewhere with the other 1-seed going to Michigan State. Even if Duke wins the ACC Tournament, there’s a chance either Texas Tech or Kansas is so brilliant in the Big 12 Tournament that Duke ends up a 2-seed.
That fact that I have Duke at a 1-seed if the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament started today means that I believe Duke shows that they’re the class of the ACC in the ACC Tournament. In fact, I think Duke might be the best team in the nation.
East: Villanova Wildcats 9/2
Jay Wright runs the most consistent college basketball program on the planet. Villanova has been good for years. The Wildcats head into the Big East Tournament from March 7 through March 10 after dominating rival Georgetown 97 to 73. Georgetown was one of the worst teams in the Big East this season. Still, Nova covered the spread as a -19 favorite.
The reason Villanova is so good is because they might be the most harmonious team in college basketball. One of their best players, Phil Booth, went down with an injury. All Wright did was rally the other troops. Nova went 5 and 2 straight up while Booth was on the bench. Since Booth’s return, the Wildcats have gone 3 and 1 straight up.
If Nova wins the Big East Tournament, they’ll be the 1-seed in the East.
What Can Keep Villanova From a 1-Seed?
Villanova probably has a 1-seed sewn up unless they don’t make it to the Big East Tournament Championship. If the Wildcats lose early in the Big East Tournament, there’s a chance their 1-seed goes to Xavier should Xavier win the Big East Tourney.
Xavier’s 1-seed in the Midwest would then go to Kansas, Texas Tech, Michigan State, Duke or Virginia. Of the 4 teams listed here, I feel most comfortable that Villanova secures a 1-seed. Jay Wright’s name hasn’t come up in the current college hoops’ scandal. Villanova is no where in any of the reports. I suspect that the Selection Committee will want to reward the squeaky clean (so far!) Villanova Wildcats with a 1-seed.
Villanova would have to implode to not get a 1 in the 2018 NCAA College Basketball Tournament.
Midwest: Xavier Musketeers 20/1
Xavier’s odds should be no where near 20/1 to win the NCAA Tournament. The Musketeers won a share of the Big East Regular Season title with Villanova. That alone means that they’re a deserving 1-seed. Should Xavier win the Big East Tournament, a 1-seed is assured. If Xavier doesn’t win the Big East Tournament, they might still grab a 1-seed if Duke or Virginia blows it in the ACC Tournament, and both Kansas and Texas Tech blow it in the Big 12 Tournament.
What Could Keep the Musketeers From a 1-Seed?
Lots of things. Villanova’s blown out Xavier twice this season. Nova beat Xavier 89 to 65 in the first game. In the second game, the Wildcats pummeled the Musketeers 79 to 95. A third blowout loss to the Musketeers means Xavier gets a 2-seed instead of a 1-seed.
There’s also the question of the Big 12 Tournament winner. Kansas won the Big 12 Regular Season with a 24-7 record. The Texas Tech Red Raiders finished second in the Big 12 with a 23-8 record. If Tech upsets Rock Chalk Jayhawk in the Big 12 Tournament, they’ll clamor for a 1-seed. If Kansas wins the Big 12, they’ll clamor for the 1-seed.
Xavier’s march to a 1 won’t be easy. I believe the Musketeers are deserving. But, man, a lot of things must go right for Xavier to grab a 1.