The 83rd NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is about to get underway!
Two teams make their tournament debuts this season: the Longwood University Lancers and the Bryant University Bulldogs. Longwood (14-seed, 22-6 record against div. 1 opponents), out of Farmville, Virginia, won the Big South regular season and conference tournament titles. Bryant (16-seed, 21-9), out of Smithfield, Rhode Island, won the Northeast Conference Tournament and regular season championships. Since 1990, 96 teams have made their NCAA tourney debut, but only six of those 96 won a first-round game in their first trip. The last to do it was Northwestern in 2017.
Michigan State (7-seed, 22-12), under head coach Tom Izzo, earned its 24th consecutive tournament berth. Izzo ties Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski for the longest streak of consecutive bids for a head coach. Krzyzewski’s streak was ended last year.
The Montana State Bobcats (14-seed, 25-7) enter the tournament for the first time in 26 years. This is the longest absence of any team in the field.
This is the first year that no team from the Big Ten, Atlantic Coast or Southeastern Conference received a 1 seed. This year’s top seeds – Gonzaga, Arizona, Baylor and Kansas are all from west of the Mississippi River.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-3) enter the tournament as a 1 seed for the third year in a row, and for the fifth time in nine tournaments.
Five of the past six national champions (and eight of the last twelve) have come from the South Region. The University of Arizona Wildcats are the top seed of the South this year. It is their sixth tourney as a 1 seed.
No defending champion has made it past the Sweet Sixteen since Florida in 2007. Baylor (1-seed, 26-6) has the seed position to break this curse, but their player injuries are well documented. In the past four tournaments, the defending champ was eliminated in the first or second round (4-seed Virginia in 2021, 6-seed Villanova in 2019, 2-seed North Carolina in 2018, and 1-seed Villanova in 2017).
This is the first time since official seeding numbers were issued in 1979 that the Atlantic Coast Conference has only one team among the top 4 seeds (Duke, 2-seed, 28-6).
Notre Dame (21-10) previously made NCAA tournament appearances at seeds numbers 1 through 10, and now enters as an 11 seed.
A team seeded 4th or worse has made the Final Four in each of the last eleven seasons. The Auburn Tigers, Loyola Ramblers, and UCLA Bruins are the three most recent teams to do so, and all return to the tournament this year.
Number 5 seeds are the only seed of the top eight that has not yet won a championship. This year’s 5 seeds are Houston (28-5), Iowa (25-9), Saint Mary’s (24-7), and Connecticut (23-9).