As the NCAA tournament gets under way and we are vigorously filling out our brackets, there are always some top seeds who get upset much earlier than we expect.
This year, the competition in the early rounds will make for an exciting start to the madness.
Don’t expect every No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seed to reach the Sweet 16. Some will fall in the Round of 64, even more will fall in the Round of 32.
So, which teams will see an early exit from the big dance?
No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs
Though it would be very surprising to see Gonzaga lose in the second round to Southern, the 31-2 Bulldogs will face a tough opponent in the Round of 32.
Either No. 8 Pittsburgh or No. 9 Wichita State will be a huge challenge for Gonzaga. Pitt is 24-8 overall and reached the championship of an extremely competitive Big East conference.
With stingy defense and strong post play, Pitt is in great shape to take down Gonzaga. Steven Adams, standing at 7’0”, controls the boards and has helped Pitt hold its opponents to 55.4 points per game.
If Pitt can force contested shots from Gonzaga, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bulldogs sent home early.
No. 3 Marquette Golden Eagles
As well as Marquette has played this season (23-8, 14-4 Big East) they have seen their ups and downs. Turnovers have been a problem for the Golden Eagles, who saw an early exit in the Big East Tournament due to 14 turnovers.
Davidson is no slouch either. In the midst of a 17-game winning streak, the Wildcats average 73.7 points per game, allowing just 62.2.
When you look at this matchup, it appears to be a flip-of-the-coin scenario, but Davidson is a scary 14-seed. They have more size than Marquette and are stronger in the paint.
The Wildcats’ shot selection has enabled the team to shoot 53.4 percent from the floor. Led by 6’10” senior Jake Cohen, Davidson is ready to make another run in the NCAA tournament.
That's bad news for the Golden Eagles.
No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks
In the third round of the tournament, Kansas will presumably match up with either North Carolina or Villanova. Both teams are plenty capable of coming away with the win.
Though Kansas is the top-seed in the South, it will take a lot for them to advance past the Round of 32.
North Carolina is playing its best basketball of the season. Reaching the ACC Championship, the Tar Heels fell short at the hands of Miami. UNC averages 77.2 points per game, and there will be some extra motivation if, in fact, these teams meet in the Round of 32.
Tar Heels coach Roy Williams left Kansas for North Carolina in 2004. The fan base is still fuming and they let him hear it whenever they get together. With such high stakes, you can guarantee the Tar Heels will be ready.
On the other end, Villanova has overcome a slow start and vastly improved in the second half of the season. They saw wins against Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette and Syracuse, and won’t be intimidated by the No. 1 next to Kansas’ name.
Whichever team gets through to the third round, the Jayhawks will be in for a tough time. Their inconsistencies will show as they will be tested on the biggest stage in college basketball.
Kansas may see their tournament lives end before they have a chance to really get started.
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