Villanova most likely to win March Madness after bracket reveal

Villanova can thank the NCAA selection committee for giving it the best odds of emerging from March Madness as champions. Villanova is the top seed in arguably the weakest region of the 2018 tournament, putting the Big East champion Wildcats in prime position to win their second title in three years, but first they will need to survive what should be a wild opening week of games, beginning Tuesday with the First Four.

Virginia was the consensus top team entering the tournament after winning the ACC, but an unfavourable draw placed it in the South Region, which also features SEC champions Kentucky, Pac-12 champions Arizona, and American Conference champions Cincinnati. Big 12 champions Kansas will need to contend with the likes of Michigan State and Duke in the Midwest Region, while the only non-champion 1-seed, Xavier, heads up a West region with North Carolina, Michigan, and Gonzaga all lurking.

Certain teams like Oklahoma were lucky to even make the tournament. Despite featuring the top scorer and assist man in college basketball in Trae Young, Oklahoma faltered down the stretch, going 2-8 since the start of February. The Sooners were still granted a spot in the tournament, entering as a 10-seed much to the disappointment of teams that had recently beaten them like their rivals at Oklahoma State, which was snubbed.

Oklahoma State had two wins against Oklahoma and two even more impressive victories over Kansas, but it wasn’t enough to sway the committee. Notre Dame also has a claim to being snubbed, as do mid-majors Saint Mary’s and Middle Tennessee, who had standout seasons but were unable to win their respective conference championships to secure an automatic bid. The Fighting Irish were left out after Davidson stole a bid with an upset over Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 championship game.

Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis feels his team at Saint Mary’s did enough to earn at least a play-in game instead of the four teams competing for two at-large 11-seed bids in Dayton, Ohio, over the next two days. St. Bonaventure faces UCLA on Tuesday, while Syracuse takes on Arizona State on Wednesday as part of the First Four.