NCAA Tournament Bracketology: Predicting Top 20 Seeds and Their First-Round Opponents


My fifth edition of bracketology looks at the top 20 seeds for the 2022-23 NCAA Tournament and each team’s potential first-round opponent. This is my second bracketology article this week; so much has stayed the same. Alabama is still my second No. 1 seed despite falling (68-59) at Tennessee on Wednesday night.

Virginia remains steady as a No. 2 seed and seventh-ranked overall as they won a dogfight over Louisville. However, Indiana drops from a fourth seed to the second to last spot on line No. 5 after falling to Northwestern last night. Also, Gonzaga bumped up to a third seed as Xavier dropped to a spot No. 13 overall.

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No. 1 Seeds

Projected opening-round matchups:

No. 1 Houston Cougars (23-2) vs. NEC/SWAC play-in game winner. Stonehill (13-15) and Merrimack (11-16) held a-half game lead in the NEC. Alcorn State (14-11) has a one-and-one-half game lead in the SWAC.

No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (22-4) vs. MEAC/ OVC play-in game winner. Howard (16-10) leads the MEAC by one game. Morehead State (17-10) tops the OVC by two games.

No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers (23-3) vs. Vermont (16-10). Vermont has won seven straight and leads the America East by two games.

No. 4 UCLA (21-4) vs. Southland Conference automatic berth. Northwestern State (18-8) and Texas A&M -Corpus Christi (17-7) top the conference at 10-3.

No. 2 Seeds

Projected opening-round matchups:

No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks (21-6) vs. Horizon League champion. Youngstown State (20-7) and Milwaukee (18-8) are tied atop the conference with a 12-4 record.

No. 6 Arizona Wildcats (22-4) vs. Colgate (20-8). Colgate has clinched the Patriot League regular season title for the fifth straight year, the third time outright.

No. 7 Virginia Cavaliers (20-4) vs. Eastern Washington (19-7). EWU has a 2.5-game lead in the Big Sky.

No. 8 Texas Longhorns (20-6) vs. UNC Asheville (20-7). UNCA holds a game lead in the Big South.

No. 3 Seeds

Projected opening-round matchups:

No. 9 Baylor Bears (20-6) vs. Southern Conference champion. Furman (21-6), UNC Greensboro (18-9), and Samford (18-9) are tied for the league lead at 12-2.

No. 10 Tennessee Volunteers (20-6) vs. UC Santa Barbara (20-4). UCSB leads the Big West by a game.

No. 11 Marquette Golden Eagles (21-6) vs. Utah Valley (20-6). UVA leads the WAC by two games.

No. 12 Gonzaga Bulldogs (20-5) vs. Atlantic Sun automatic bid. Liberty (21-6) and Kennesaw State (20-7) lead the ASun at 12-2.

No. 4 Seeds

Projected opening-round matchups:

No. 13 Xavier Musketeers (19-7) vs. Ivy League automatic berth winner. Yale (17-6) and Princeton (16-7) are knotted atop the Ivy League standings at 7-3.

14. San Diego State Aztecs (20-5) vs. MAAC automatic berth winner in the first round. Iona (18-7) and Rider (14-9) top the conference with an 11-3 record.

15. Miami Hurricanes vs. winner of Missouri Valley Conference automatic berth in the tournament’s opening round. Drake (21-6) and Bradley (19-8) are tied atop the MVC.

16. Saint Mary’s College Gaels (21-5)

Saint Mary’s moves into the final fourth seed due to Indiana’s loss to Northwestern. The Gaels were among the teams I considered a No. 4 seed on Tuesday.

Saint Mary’s is on the verge of ending Gonzaga’s six-year run of winning the WCC outright. The Gaels lead the Bulldogs by a single game with four left to go. SMC and GU meet on the final day of the regular season. If the Gaels close out the regular season by winning the remaining games, they will be the first team other than the Zags to win the conference outright in 11 years.

Saint Mary’s is 8-3 away from home and 8-3 in Quad 1 and 2 contests. The Gaels outscore their opponents by 13.3 points a game and own a top-10 defense.

SMC doesn’t turn the ball over and dominate the glass, particularly on the offensive end. Freshman Aidan Mahaney leads four players who average at least 12 points a game.

They project to face the automatic berth winner of the MAC in the NCAA Tournament opening round. Kent State (21-5) and Toledo(20-6) are tied atop the conference at 11-2.

No. 5 Seeds

17. UConn Huskies (19-7)
Connecticut has been inconsistent during Big East play, but their red-hot start and strength of schedule put them as a five seed. UConn is 7-5 away from Storrs, and they have several big wins. The Huskies have won eight of 14 Quad I and 2 games, including going 6-6 in Quad I games.

UConn’s most significant victories have come over Alabama, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Creighton, and Marquette. The Huskies, who rank in the top 30 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, shoot the ball well from deep and are an outstanding rebounding team. Adama Sonogo and Jordan Hawkins combine for 33.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists to lead the way.

Connecticut to open NCAA Tournament play against face the Colonial Athletic Association automatic berth winner. Charleston (25-3) and Hofstra (20-8) sit atop the CAA standings at 13-2.

18. Kansas State Wildcats (19-7)
Kansas State is an enigma. The Wildcats had very few expectations of them entering the season as they brought in a new coach and several transfers.

Tang is doing a good job, and the Cats get after it on the defensive end as they guard the 3-point line well and force turnovers. Offensively, KSU passes the ball well and gets to the free-throw line often. Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Johnson lead the way.

Kansas State projects to face Southern Miss (23-4). Southern Miss owns a two-game lead in Sun Belt play over Marshall and Louisiana with four games remaining.

19. Indiana Hoosiers (18-8)
Indiana falls three spots due to their loss to Northwestern on Wednesday. The Hoosiers’ loss snaps a three-game losing streak.

IU projects to face Oral Roberts (23-4) in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. ORU has clinched at least a share of the Summitt as they hold a four-game lead over South Dakota State with that many to go.

20. Northwestern Wildcats (19-7)
Northwestern has played well lately. NU extended its winning streak to four with their victory over IU. Wednesday’s victory over IU gave the Wildcats their first sweep of the Hoosiers and Wisconsin for the first time since 1938.

Northwestern is second in the Big Ten at 10-5, two games behind league leader Purdue. The Wildcats are 7-3 in games away from campus and 7-4 in Quad I contests. Senior guards Boo Buie and Chase Audage give the Cats one of the best starting backcourts in the nation.

Northwestern projects to face VCU (19-7) in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. VCU leads the Atlantic 10 by one game.


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