What to Watch on Selection Sunday in Men’s N.C.A.A. Tournament

Four months after the men’s college basketball season began, the 68 teams in the N.C.A.A. tournament will finally be revealed during the Selection Sunday show on CBS, starting at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Some teams will be sweating it out as they wait to see whether they made the cut, while others are simply anxious to find out who they face, where they must travel and who looms in their region.

The 2022 N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament begins on Tuesday with play-in games in Dayton, Ohio, and culminates with the Final Four in New Orleans, April 2-4.

Here’s what to watch for on Selection Sunday:

Who are the projected No. 1 seeds?

After two of the top five teams in the nation — No. 3 Baylor, last year’s national champion, and No. 5 Auburn — lost in their conference tournaments over the weekend, the picture at the top has become clearer. No. 1-ranked Gonzaga, No. 2 Arizona and No. 6 Kansas are virtual locks for top seeds, while No. 3 Baylor and No. 7 Duke are in the mix, although Duke lost to Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game Saturday night.

Auburn, Purdue, Villanova, and Texas Tech are additionally in contention for No. 2 seeds.

Gonzaga, the West Coast Conference champion and the favorite to win the title, could be assigned the top seed in the West region, which finishes in San Francisco. A West Coast team has not won the N.C.A.A. men’s championship since Arizona in 1997, and this year Gonzaga has a legitimate shot along with Arizona, which beat U.C.L.A. in the Pac-12 championship game, 84-76, on Saturday night.

Villanova, which won the N.C.A.A. championship in 2016 and 2018 under Coach Jay Wright, is hoping to be assigned to the East region, which has its regional at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, where Villanova went 3-0 this season.

Some teams saw their seeding position jeopardized with losses at critical times.

When Providence was blown out by Creighton in the Big East tournament semifinals on Friday night, it put their status as a potential No. 4 seed in some doubt.

“That’s something I can’t control,” Friars coach Ed Cooley said. “I don’t want our seeding to be impacted on one game, you know what I mean? I don’t know what the committee thinks. That’s not my job. I try not to worry about stuff I can’t control.”

Who else should be sweating it out?

Teams like Xavier, Wyoming, Michigan, Southern Methodist, Dayton, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest entered Saturday on the bubble. Virginia Tech — which beat Duke, 82-67, on Saturday night — earned an automatic bid. S.M.U. lost in an American Athletic tournament semifinal to Memphis.

Xavier looked like a lock to make the field of 68 for much of the season but lost eight of 10 contests to close the season, blowing a costly game against Butler in the Big East tournament when Paul Scruggs committed a late foul that allowed the game to go to overtime, where the Bulldogs won.

“I wish it was up to us, I wish we were still playing. It is what it is. Now it’s in the hands of other people,” Xavier coach Travis Steele said. “When you don’t control your own destiny, I mean, you’re nervous constantly. Puts a pit in your stomach.”

He added: “I’m hopeful we’ll be in it because I think we’re a team that can advance and really do some damage in the N.C.A.A. tournament.”

Dan Gavitt, the N.C.A.A.’s senior vice president of basketball, said on CBS on Saturday that the 68 teams in the field would be decided before the end of the night, and that the selection committee would spend Sunday focusing on where to seed teams.

What schools will get the dreaded 5 seeds?

One key thing to watch out for is which teams get No. 5 and No. 12 seeds.

According to, No. 12 seeds are 51-93 — a 35.4 winning percentage — against No. 5 seeds since the field expanded in 1985. In 2019, three No. 12 seeds advanced to the second round: Murray State (beat Marquette), Oregon (beat Wisconsin) and Liberty (beat Mississippi State). The 12s also won three games in 2013 and 2014. In 2021, No. 12 Oregon State upset No. 5 Tennessee. In 31 of the last 36 years, the 12 seed has won at least one first round game.

For comparison’s sake, No. 13 seeds are 31-113 against 4 seeds. That’s a 21.5 winning percentage, 14 percentage points less likely than the 12-5 upset.

Where will Coach K and Duke land in the draw?

It has been known all season that Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski will retire following this tournament. Coach K, as he is known, has won five N.C.A.A. championships with the Blue Devils, most recently in the 2014-15 season when his roster featured three one-and-done future N.B.A. players.

His current team again has a trio of such freshmen in Paolo Banchero, A.J. Griffin and Trevor Keels, and as many as five potential first-round picks in total.

Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim, who is friendly with Krzyzewski and whose team lost to Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals, believes Duke should be the favorite this year.

“I like Duke’s team,” he said. “I just think they’re big, they’ve got a lot of options, a lot of different guys can get 20” points.

Other teams with high-profile coaches to keep an eye on are Memphis and Michigan, both of which are coached by alums who are former N.B.A. players in Penny Hardaway and Juwan Howard.

Hardaway’s team has thrived since heralded freshman Emoni Bates went down with an apparent back injury, enabling Hardaway to tighten the rotation. Howard returned from a five-game suspension after he slapped a Wisconsin assistant in the head during the handshake line on Feb. 20, but in his return game Michigan blew a 17-point second-half lead and lost to Indiana in the Big Ten tournament.

Related Articles

Back to top button