Earning the top seed is no guarantee of success for Zion Williamson& Co. Since overall seeds began in 2004, only three went on to win the national title: Florida in 2007, Kentucky in 2012 and Louisville in 2013 (which was later vacated).
This year's bracket marks the second time that three teams from one conference are No. 1 seeds, joining the Big East in 2009. That year, the only other top seed, North Carolina, won the tournament.
Belmontand Temple were the last at-large teams included in the 68-team bracket. They will play in the First Four on Tuesday and Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, before the tournament begins in earnest on Thursday.
Belmont is the first team from the Ohio Valley Conference to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament since Middle Tennessee did so in 1987. The Bruins will take on Temple, with the winner to face Marylandin the East region.
Belmont coach Rick Byrd shed tears of joy after hearing that the Bruins had received an at-large bid by the NCAA selection committee.
"Anytime that anything happens for people that I care about, then I'm going to cry about it," Byrd said, as quoted by the Nashville Tennessean. "I can't control it or I would. I'm just happy for these guys, happy for the school, for the people that support us and care about us."
Arizona Statewill take on St. John's in the other game between at-large teams in Dayton. The winner will faceBuffalo.
Receiving No. 2 seeds were Tennessee, which matched its highest seed ever, Michigan State, Kentuckyand Michigan.
LSU, Purdue, Houstonand Texas Techare the 3-seeds, andVirginia Tech,Kansas State, Kansasand Florida Statewere seeded at No. 4.
The three teams from the ACC as No. 1 seeds ties a record for one conference.
"They earned their right to be there,'' said Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir, the chair of the selection committee, Sunday on CBS.
Virginia gets a top seed for the second straight year and will hope to avoid another colossal embarrassment. The Cavaliers will face Gardner-Webb one year after becoming the first top seed to lose to a No. 16 since the bracket went to 64 teams in 1985.
The bracket, as always, included a few surprises and a few debatable decisions from the selection committee, which has been holed up at a Manhattan hotel this week, crunching the numbers.
- Mid-major Belmont was one of seven teams from non-power conferences to earn at-large bids. That was the highest total since 2015. Other bubble teams were Temple, ArizonaState and St. John's. Missing the tournament were Alabama, TCU, Indiana and UNC Greensboro.
- Michigan State made a strong bid for a No. 1 seed with its win Sunday over Michigan in the Big Ten title game. Instead, it was put on the 2-line, with a potential Elite Eight matchup against Duke in a tough East region.
Muir said Michigan State leapfrogged another No. 2 seed, Kentucky, by winning the Big Ten, but "at the same token, we thought Michigan and Michigan State would both be on the 2-line.''
Muir said his group examined how well teams did against teams in the top quadrant of the NET rankings, which replaced RPI as a metric this season.
Muir said teams such as Belmont (2-2 against Quadrant 1 teams) that did well in limited opportunities against Quadrant 1 teams were favored over teams such as NC State (3-9 vs. Quadrant 1), which did not make the most of its opportunities.
"Belmont's interesting," Muir said. "They made the most of the opportunities they had. They had two wins in Quad 1, and we just thought that they were a phenomenal basketball team -- very high on the offensive front, offensive efficiency. We thought they were deserving. They belong in the field."
Based on this methodology, a team's NET ranking when compared to other candidates appeared to matter less than the results against teams in NET ranking quadrants. At 32, NC State had the highest NET ranking among teams left out, followed by Clemson (35). Among the last four teams, Belmont's NET ranking was 47, Temple 56, Arizona State 63 and St. John's 73.
Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn,Mississippi State,Ole Missand Floridaare representing the SEC, which missed having eight teams for the second year in a row when Alabama was one of the first four out.
The Big 12's six tournament teams are Texas Tech, Kansas State, Kansas, Baylor, Iowa Stateand Oklahoma.
"I think our league is plenty good enough to have teams in the tournament that have multiple wins. Our league is not as top heavy as what it has been in the past,'' said Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team's record streak of 14 consecutive Big 12 titles was snapped this season. "This league has prepared by beating up on each other, and we should be ready to go have some success next week.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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