After weeks of bubble watch, 1-seed talk and conference tournament thrillers, the 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket was finally revealed.
Princeton, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Troy, Michigan and SMU were the final conference tournament winners, winning their leagueâs auto-bid and cementing a spot in the field of 68. The selection committee put in the final tweaks for seeding, and now weâre off to fill out our brackets over the next couple of days.
Villanova claimed the top overall seed and the No. 1 in the East Region. Kansas didnât fall far after its one-and-done showing in the Big 12 tournament and got a favorable run as the No. 1 in the Midwest Region. North Carolina ended up holding on to its No. 1 seed after getting bounced by ACC Tournament champion Duke, which ended up as a No. 2 in the East with Villanova.
The bracket was revealed over the Selection Show, and there was much celebrating across college campuses watching their team get highlighted on TV.
Hereâs seven things to know about the 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket.
1. Dukeâs back and scary-good, but missed the cut for a 1-seed
Duke was projected to be the new fourth No. 1 seed after beating Louisville, North Carolina and Notre Dame on the way to an ACC Tournament title in Brooklyn, but the selection committee threw a curveball by putting the Blue Devils on the 2-line in the East. The Blue Devils hit their stride in the tournament and have the most potent offensive trio in the country: Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen. When all three are rolling, Duke looks like the title contender we expected to see coming into the year. Duke draws No. 15 Troy in the first round, and with a win would face South Carolina or Marquette. Marquette would be fun, if only to see Steve Wojciechowski and Mike Krzyzewski go at it with a Sweet 16 bid on the line.
2. The ACC fell short of Big East record for bids
Jerry Palm narrowed the ACCâs projected number of picks over the last few weeks, making it clear the league likely would fall short of matching the Big Eastâs NCAA Tournament record of 11 bids, set in 2011. Syracuse fell short, Wake Forest got in and the league ended up with nine, four on the top two seed lines.
The next step for the ACC is to back it up with wins on the first weekend. The flip side of getting the most teams in is that the league also could suffer the most losses in the first days via upsets.
3. Syracuse needed more wins than headlines in the ACC Tournament
Jim Boeheim made headlines taking shots at the ACC Tournamentâs former home in Greensboro after the Orange lost in their conference tourney for the second year in a row. Last year, the selection committee put the Orange in the field and they made it to the Final Four. This year they needed to beat Miami, at a minimum, and couldnât get it done. The good wins mostly came at home, and since the Orange didnât make much of a statement in the ACC Tournament they fell on the wrong side of the bubble.
4. Sleeper teams to watch
Vermont is carrying the nationâs longest winning streak and should absolutely make Purdue fans nervous. Florida Gulf Coast put on a Dunk City-worthy show in the Atlantic Sun Tournament and should be considered a threat to in-state foe Florida State in the West Region.
Middle Tennessee State not only knocked off Michigan State as a 15 a year ago but took care of business in conference play to return as a 12. The Blue Raiders are capable of getting to the Sweet 16, which would be right down the road in Memphis, and could bring local flavor to a blue-blood soaked region.
5. South Region has the superstars
Can you imagine what Sweet 16 weekend might look like in Memphis? North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA make this the glamour region, and if the games these teams played against each other during the year was any indication those dream matchups could make for impeccable theater. Kentucky-UNC in December (a 103-100 Wildcats win) still gets my vote for game of the year, and getting a rematch with a Final Four spot on the line would be awesome.
Of course, there is the not small issue of getting there, and Kentucky could run into the best 10-seed in the tournament in the second round. Wichita State got bounced by an low-seed Kentucky in 2014, and now could get a chance to return the favor.
Gonzaga has had a 1-seed locked up for a while. For a lot of fans, they just wanted Selection Sunday and the NCAA Tournament to get here as fast as possible. Now the 2017 Zags and Mark Few have a chance reach their first Final Four. They faced, and beat, No. 2 Arizona earlier this season and could face the Wildcats in the Elite Eight.
Arizonaâs Sean Miller hasnât been to the Final Four either, and Arizona hasnât since 2001. Arizona only recently started playing its best basketball and enters the tournament riding Allonzo Trier at the top of his game and one of the most best-shooting big men in the country in Lauri Markkanen. Miller thinks they can ride this momentum and see something special in March, and if they face Gonzaga in a rematch I bet he likes their odds.
7. The tournament starts Tuesday!
The First Four, in Dayton, starts Tuesday with Wake Forest playing Kansas State on the 11-seed and New Orleans playing Mt. St. Maryâs in the battle of 16-seeds. NC Central plays UC Davis on Wednesday and Providence take on USC in the final night cap. All of that action will be TruTV, and then brackets are due Thursday, so start researching now!