Gonzaga, Arizona, Kansas and Baylor clinched the No. 1 seeds in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Which seed will be chosen first?
The field for the 2022 NCAA Tournament is set and the front row teams never really doubted after Friday. Gonzaga, Arizona, Kansas and Baylor were the last No. 1 seeds in most of Bracketology’s latest reports and that’s exactly where they ended up in the actual March Madness bracket.
Chalk would dictate these would be the Final Four teams, but history says that won’t happen. 2008 is the only year since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 that saw all four No. 1s reach the Final Four, making it very likely that at least one will drop before the final weekend of the season.
However, not all paths are created equal, so some of the top seeds have an easier path to New Orleans than others. Let’s see which seed could be the first to fall, starting with our least likely upset victim in Kansas.
NCAA Tournament Upset Picks: Ranking the 1 seeds most likely to be upset in March Madness
4. Kansas Jayhawks
Although they weren’t the best overall, the Jayhawks have to be grateful for how the group went. Kansas got the No. 1 seed in the South Region and drew a No. 2 seed (Auburn), a No. 3 seed (Wisconsin) and a No. 4 seed (Providence) who struggled to get down the stretch.
The trickiest test for Kansas could be a showdown with Wisconsin in the Elite Eight if National Player of the Year nominee Johnny Davis is fully healthy and the Badgers can slow the pace of play down to a crawl. Of all the top seeds, the Jayhawks seem like the safest bet to qualify for the Final Four.
3. Gonzaga Bulldogs
The top seed in the NCAA Tournament is Gonzaga, who was well-deserved after a strong regular season. The Bulldogs were placed in the West Region and have a very manageable path to the Elite Eight by knocking out either Memphis or Boise State in the Round of 16 and one from UCONN or Arkansas in the Sweet 16.
The selection committee placed the two lowest seeds in the Bulldogs’ group with Duke, but Texas Tech is a very dangerous No. 3. The tenacious defense of the Red Raiders can rely on the game plans that Saint Mary’s used to frustrate Gonzaga on the stretch makes it possible for Mark Few’s side not to return in the Final Four.
2. Arizona Wildcats
The Wildcats have been the second-best team for most of the season, but they face a significant injury problem entering the NCAA Tournament. Guard Kerr Kriisa sprained his ankle during the Pac-12 tournament and did not return to competition for the rest of the weekend, raising questions about Arizona’s advantages if not in perfect health.
The other issue revolves around whether Arizona has a brutal Elite Eight tie against a seasoned Villanova team or a scorching Tennessee, who arguably should have been on the 2 line instead of Duke. The Volunteers also beat the Wildcats during the regular season, a factor that should give Rick Barnes’ team more confidence if they go this far.
1. Baylor Bear
It should come as no shock that the NCAA Tournament’s weakest No. 1 seed is the most likely to be fired early. Baylor held on to a front row berth despite losing to Oklahoma in their Big 12 tournament opener, a result that left them trailing Kansas on the S-curve and in a brutally tough region.
The Bears have arguably the toughest 8-9 game in the draw with scorching North Carolina or a Marquette team that swept Villanova awaiting them in the Round of 16. Add to that facing St. Mary’s or UCLA in the Sweet 16 as well as a date with Kentucky in the Elite Eight and the chances of Baylor defending the national championship are pretty slim.
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