NCAA Tournament committee didn't treat Virginia like the No. 1 overall seed at all
Four of the seven major-conference champions are in the South Region
If the NCAA tournament selection committee were to send a congratulatory letter every year to the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, this is how I would imagine it to go this year:
Dear Tony Bennett and your incredible Virginia Cavaliers,
Congratulations! You have rightfully earned the No. 1 overall seed in our annual 68-team basketball tournament, which we call "The NCAA Tournament." You, your families and your administration should be awfully proud of this accomplishment.
As a reward, you get to select where you want to play your games. You have selected to play the first weekend in Charlotte, a lovely city this time of year. May the committee recommend a team-building outing to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, where you can take these young student-athletes on the whitewater rafting experience of their dreams. Your fans will enjoy Charlotte's impressive selection of microbreweries. Should you advance even further, your second weekend games will be played in Atlanta.
But not so fast! Yes, you are our top seed, earning it with a historically good defense and remarkable consistency that's only brought your Wahoos two losses in the course of the season. But surely you didn't want to be rewarded with an easy path to the Final Four in San Antonio, did you? No! The student-athlete experience is all about challenging our inner selves ...
... so we decided that the best reward we could give you was the most difficult path to the Final Four of all the No. 1 seeds.
As an appetizer, we felt we would let you feast on the UMBC Retrievers in the 1-16 game we in the committee room love to call the "Sacrificial Lamb Game." (We always get a good chuckle on that.) Go ahead, beat them by 30! Shut them out even! But remember: This supposedly easy out of a team just made it to the NCAA tournament in the most dramatic of ways, with Jairus Lyles hitting a game-winning 3-pointer to beat Vermont. Vermont had been one of the best mid-major teams in the country all season. You'll enjoy this beginning to your tournament.
After that, you got either Kansas State or Creighton. Creighton especially will be a fun challenge for you, with one of the top backcourts in the nation in Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas, both of whom are capable of going off for 25 or 30 points. But certainly not against you and your out-of-this-world defense! We thought you'd like the challenge. Good luck!
Assuming you make the second weekend, boy do we have a treat lined up for you! Drum roll please…how about…FACING ONE OF TWO TEAMS THAT WERE RANKED IN THE TOP FIVE IN THE PRESEASON! That's right. Instead of some so-so four- or five-seeds for you to kick off that second weekend — like the overachieving Ohio State Buckeyes or the injury- and suspension-addled Auburn Tigers — you want your student-athletes to play the finest basketball players our organization has to offer. So in the Sweet Sixteen you'll get to either play the Kentucky Wildcats — filled with five-star freshmen, John Calipari's group is peaking at the right time, having just won the SEC Tournament — or the Arizona Wildcats, who have perhaps the most physically dominant player in college basketball in Deandre Ayton and just won the Pac-12 Tournament.
To be the best, you gotta beat the best, right? You might point out that at certain points during this season -- Kentucky's four-game losing streak in February, Arizona's three losses in three days at the Battle 4 Atlantis -- these teams were not up to your high standards. Don't worry: They are now. In the committee room, we knew that these are both teams that are currently playing like No. 2 or No. 3 seeds. But they stumbled enough during the regular season that we thought that a perfect opportunity to slot them into the perfect spot for you.
And let's say you make it through that gauntlet. We hope you do make it through, sincerely, and make it to the Elite Eight, where you'll have a chance once and for all to get over that bump and bring a Final Four to Tony Bennett's program. We know you have a dominant defense, one of the most dominant defenses in recent memory. That's your greatest strength. So guess who we set you up against, if the chips fall as we expect them to fall? (I'm getting giddy just writing this! You're going to just love it! We set you up with a doozy!) You'll get to play…the team with the SECOND-BEST DEFENSE IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY!
Your greatest strength happens to be Cincinnati's greatest strength, too. We thought you'd have great fun getting to play your mirror image. Seriously, you guys are like brothers. You're sitting at No. 1 in defensive efficiency on KenPom; Cincinnati is sitting at No. 2. You rank 21st in offensive efficiency, Cincinnati is 54th. We think you two will really like each other.
Plus, we had the opportunity to load up the champions from four of the top seven conferences all in one region. How could we pass that up?
In conclusion, we the committee is honored to have given you, such a great team that has achieved so much this season, the most difficult path to the Final Four. We believe it's exactly what you would want.
Best of luck!
Hugs and kisses,
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