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March Madness: Race to No. 1 (Seeds)

Conference Tournaments to Sort Out Road to NCAAs

Gonzaga and …

It wasn’t as easy as some might have thought, but top-ranked Gonzaga won the West Coast Conference tournament to secure a No. 1 seed and, according to most of the March Madness predictions, the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament after surviving tough challenges from San Francisco and Saint Mary’s.

Now the question is which other teams will end up as Nos. 1 and 2 seeds when the March Madness bracket is announced on Sunday.

NCAA betting: The race to No. 1 (seeds)
Chris Gardner/Getty Images/AFP

Here’s a look at the top contenders

Arizona Wildcats

Arizona (+650) is tied with Kentucky for the second-best odds to win the national championship and also rank second in the NCAA NET rankings. A concern for the Wildcats could be just eight Quad 1 games and only five Quad 1 victories, which pales in comparison to teams from the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC.

Arizona opens up in the Pac-12 tournament against Stanford on Thursday. A likely championship matchup against UCLA or Southern California awaits on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.

Kentucky Wildcats/Auburn Tigers

Not only is Kentucky not the top seed in the SEC tournament but the Wildcats are seeded third behind Auburn and Tennessee. Kentucky figures to open against Alabama in the quarterfinals with a possible showdown with Tennessee in Saturday’s semifinals. An Auburn/Kentucky championship matchup on Sunday would be something to behold.

Kentucky is fourth and Auburn 10th in the NCAA NET rankings. Auburn is 14-4 in Quad 1 and Quad 2 games compared to Kentucky’s 12-6, but if the NCAA tournament bracket came out right now, the numbers would support Kentucky being seeded ahead of Auburn.

In the March Madness odds, Kentucky (+650) is tied for second while Auburn (+1100) is fifth.

Duke Blue Devils

A No. 1 seed seems highly improbable regardless of what transpires in the ACC tournament.

Duke (+1000) has the fourth-best odds to win the national title but it is just ninth in the NCAA NET rankings. The next ACC team is North Carolina at 33, so there won’t be any games that will impress the NCAA selection committee enough for Duke to jump that many teams ahead of it in the NCAA pecking order.

Duke plays Syracuse in Thursday’s quarterfinals with a potential semifinal matchup against either Miami or Wake Forest in the semifinals.

Notre Dame and North Carolina are in the other half of the bracket. The title game is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

The Las Vegas odds list Duke (-150) as the heavy favorite to win the ACC title.

Baylor Bears/Kansas Jayhawks

How close are things between Baylor and Kansas? The college basketball spreads have both the Bears and Jayhawks co-favorites in the Big 12 Tournament at +200.

Defending champion Baylor (+1100) has slightly better national championship odds than Kansas.

It is quite possible that if the seeds hold true to form and Saturday’s Big 12 final features the Bears and Jayhawks, a No. 1 seed will be on the line.

However, Texas Tech and Texas are teams that could prevent that anticipated third showdown of the season against the Big 12 juggernauts.

Purdue Boilermakers

The Big Ten teams have spent the season knocking each other off and, as a result, the March Madness seedings will be impacted by that.

Purdue (+1200) has the best national championship odds of the Big Ten teams and Illinois is next at +3000. Those who bet online could have quite the challenge trying to figure out how this tournament is going to play out.

The NCAA NET rankings have Purdue, Illinois and Iowa are No. 13, 14 and 15 followed by Wisconsin at No. 21 and Ohio State at No. 22, so that is an indication of how competitive things are in the conference. Some potential quarterfinal matchups — Illinois-Michigan, Wisconsin-Michigan State, Purdue-Ohio State and Rutgers-Iowa — could be sensational. Fans will have to wait until Sunday to see the Big Ten champion crowned.

Houston Cougars/Villanova Wildcats

The NCAA NET rankings have Houston fifth and Villanova sixth heading into their respective conference tournaments. Even if Houston wins the American Athletic Conference crown and Villanova emerges out of the Big East, there won’t be any No. 1 seeds on the line in those two tourneys.

With the way Memphis is playing, it will take everything Houston has to be the team cutting down the nets. In the Big East, UConn and regular-season champion Providence are among the other top contenders. A Villanova-UConn semifinal on Friday could be something else with the title game slated for 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

If everything goes as expected, Houston will face the winner of the Southern Methodist/Memphis game in Saturday’s 2:15 p.m. ET conference championship game. Houston (-155) is the heavy favorite to win the AAC tournament followed by Memphis (+350) and SMU (+700).

Villanova (+2500) tops Houston (+4000) in the odds to win the national championship.

Here’s your chance to win $1,000,000. Shoot your shot in the BetUS March Mayhem Bracket Contest.

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