On Sunday night, the NCAA released the official bracket for the 2019 March Madness men’s college basketball championship, with three ACC teams – Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina – receiving #1 seeds this year.
Gonzaga (30-3) is the other #1 seed and will be representing the West region. Duke (29-5) is the top seed in the East, Virginia (29-3) is the #1 seed in the South, and North Carolina (27-6) earned the top seed in the Midwest region.
In all, 68 teams advanced to March Madness this year with 32 teams receiving automatic bids by winning their conference tournaments. This year, 36 teams were awarded at-large bids. Bubble teams St. John’s (21-12) and Arizona State (22-10) both earned bids, but will face each other in a play-in game.
2019 MARCH MADNESS NO. 1 SEEDS
Midwest: North Carolina
The Big Ten sent the most teams to the tournament this year with 8 teams advancing to the Big Dance. Two of them, Michigan State and Michigan, earned #2 seeds.
The top teams from the SEC, Tennessee and Kentucky, were also awarded #2 seeds.
Three Aces in the ACC
Over the last couple of weeks, a trio of ACC hovered in the Top 5 in the AP Poll. Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia battled each other all season for supremacy in the ACC. Once Zion Williamson went down, it became a two-way race for the ACC regular-season title.
Virginia boasts one of the best defenses in the nation. They also shoot the ball well from three-point range. The Cavaliers bounced last year as a #1 seed after an inexcusable opening-round upset blowout against #16 UMBC.
North Carolina lost to Duke in the ACC tournament semifinals with Williamson back in the lineup, but they are still one of the top teams in the country. If Coby White can start shooting better from three-point range, the UNC could run the table this year. Head coach Roy Williams previously won NCAA titles when he was a top seed.
After an odd injury against North Carolina last month, Williamson returned for the ACC tournament with a perfect performance in his first game back. He faded any exploding sneakers and the freshman won ACC tournament MVP as Duke ran the table and held off a hit FSU squad.
Duke is a bona fide top seed and a healthy Williamson makes them the favorite to win March Madness at approximately 2/1 odds according to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas.
Big Ten Ocho
Eight teams from the Big Ten are going to March Madness this year. There are 14 teams in the Big Ten and all but six of them have a shot at a national championship.
Only Illinois, Northwestern, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers, and Indiana failed to advance. Indiana and Ohio State were on the bubble heading into the Big Ten tournament. The two were pitted against each other and Ohio State prevailed. Ohio State snuck in as one of the bubble teams, while Indiana is headed to the NIT.
Michigan State defeated Michigan in the Big Ten title game. Both teams earned #2 seeds. Purdue finished the regular season with a 16-4 record and a share of the Big Ten title. The selection committee rewarded them with a #3 seed.