Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached March. As we are days away from conference tournaments from kicking off, the top NCAA contenders are beginning to be identified and separating themselves from the pack.
While anything can happen in March, securing a one seed comes with major advantages. Just a season ago, the final two teams remaining in March Madness were the top two seeds, Baylor and Gonzaga. Here, I will make my pick for which teams will be awarded a one seed designation.
The favorite to be the first overall seed in the tournament, Gonzaga is looking to avenge their title game loss from a year ago, this time with some new faces. Freshman Chet Holmgren was the number one high school prospect a year ago and now is in discussion to become the first overall pick in the NBA draft.
Along with Holmgren, Junior Drew Timme continues to dominate regular season play, as the forward is the leading scorer on the team with 17.6 points per game. The Bulldogs finished the regular season 24-3 and are heavy favorites to win their WCC conference tournament.
Gonzaga recently suffered a surprising loss recently however, losing by ten to St. Mary’s on February 26th. This defeat could work in their favor, however, as it gives the team a wake-up call right before March Madness begins.
The favorites to win the PAC-12, the Arizona Wildcats are once again in title contention, as they currently sit at 26-3. The team is led by guard Bennedict Mathurin, a high volume scorer who is currently averaging 17.2 points per game.
Despite a recent hiccup against Colorado, the Wildcats have dominated conference play, going 16-2 in PAC-12 play. Their most notable wins include a 20 point win against 16th ranked USC and a 76-66 win against 2021 Final Four team UCLA in their most recent meeting.
Arizona will lock in a one seed designation with a conference championship, which they are -125 favorites to do.
The NCAA champions from a year ago, Baylor is poised to repeat as a one seed, and without star players they relied on in 2021. Despite the departure of guards Davion Mitchell, Jared Butler, and MaCio Teague, Baylor has been the most well rounded team in the Big-12.
The Bears remain one of the most well rounded teams in the country, featuring eight players that put out consistent scoring production. Adam Flagler is their leading scorer with 13.9 points per game, but far from their only elite offensive threat.
Come March, a name fans should keep on is Matthew Mayer. A senior captain for the team, Mayer was a huge spark off the bench during Baylor’s title run a year ago, and should find similar success again this time around, especially with a little more experience.
Taking the last one seed, Auburn has proven to be the best team in the SEC all season, and has the talent to go far in March. The team currently sits at 25-4 after a recent loss to 17th Tennessee.
It is tough to talk about this squad without mentioning superstar Jabari Smith, who is competing with Chet Homlgren to be the number one overall pick in the NBA. The 6’10” freshman is an athletic freak and unguardable at the college level.
Auburn will likely need to win the SEC to earn a one seed, as they are competing for this final spot with ACC’s Duke, who are also looking to win their conference. I believe Auburn will take care of business, as they beat top SEC teams such as Kentucky and Alabama in the regular season.