NCAA top seeds announced for men’s basketball tourney

Tennessee v Florida

Florida’s Will Yeguete reacts after defeating Tennessee during the SEC semifinals. (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images / March 15, 2014)

By Shannon Ryan, Tribune reporter

The annual groans of disappointment, griping of rejection and all-out jubilation took place Sunday as the NCAA tournament selection was revealed.

The No. 1 seeds even produced a bit of a surprise.

As expected, Florida earned the No. 1 overall seed, while Arizona and Wichita State also took a seat on the top line. The fourth No. 1 seed went to Virginia, which wrapped up an ACC tournament victory on Sunday.

That last seed was expected to go to No. 1 Michigan before the Wolverines lost in Sunday’s Big Ten tournament championship game to Michigan State. Selection committee chair Ron Wellman told CBS that the committee “considered very strongly” Michigan and Villanova for the final No. 1 seed, while Wisconsin did not deserve much debate.

As usual, the brackets left many confused.

Louisville (29-5), the defending national champion which won the American Conference and 12 of the last 13 games, earned a No. 4 seed. Some had speculated they could earn a No. 1, 2 or 3 seed.

Michigan State, the Big Ten tournament champions, also was seeded lower than expected at No. 4.

“We look at the total body of work,” Wellman said.

Michigan, Villanova, Kansas and Wisconsin took No. 2 seeds.

Some bubble teams earned a reprieve with North Carolina State, Nebraska, BYU, Dayton, Iowa and Tennessee making the field.

The play-in games in Dayton will include Iowa-Tennessee, the former being on the decline and the latter being on a hot streak. Albany-Mount St. Mary’s, Cal Poly-Texas Southern, North Carolina State –Xavier will be the other first-four games.

Despite some strong arguments for at-large bids, SMU and Green Bay were left out of the field. Ultimately, a weak strength of non-conference schedule doomed the Mustangs.

“It was a very difficult decision,” Wellman said. “We went back and forth a number of times.”

Florida (32-2) enters the South Region with a program-record 26-game winning streak, facing what appears to be a favorable bracket with No. 2 Kansas and No. 3 Syracuse.

Arizona (30-4) heads into the West Region as the top seed despite losing to UCLA in the Pac-12 title game on Saturday. Their potential third-round game comes against either No. 8 Gonzaga or No. 9 Oklahoma State. No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 3 Creighton are also in the region.

The No. 1 seed with the most doubters might be Wichita State (34-0), which enters the Midwest region as the first undefeated team since 1991. They’ll be able to prove critics wrong if they advance in a tough field that includes a potential Round of 32 game against either No. 8 Kentucky or No. 9 Kansas State.

Louisville, No. 3 Duke, No. 2 Michigan and a tough No. 7 Texas are also in the region.

Virginia (28-6) tops the East field after ending the ACC season on a high note, beating Duke for the tournament title on Sunday. The region also includes No. 2 Villanova and No. 3 Iowa State.

The Final Four begins in Arlington, Texas, on April 5 with the championship game two days later.

Plan ahead for upsets, buzzer-beaters and Cinderellas. Welcome to the 2014 NCAA tournament.

sryan@tribune.com

Twitter @sryantribune

Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

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