After a week full of exciting championship games, the full NCAA Tournament is set and will get underway with the "First Four" starting up on Tuesday with North Carolina A&T and Liberty playing first to see who will get the distinct pleasure of playing the number one overall seed in the Louisville Cardinals.
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Louisville went 29-5 this season and capped off a great week of basketball with a win over Syracuse to take the Big East Tournament championship for the second year in a row. The Cardinals made a furious comeback against the Orange in the championship game, going on a 56-26 run in the second half to finish of the team and send them home in their final conference tournament.
The Cardinals are joined by Kansas, Indiana and Gonzaga with the number one seeds and each will have a difficult road to the Final Four. Louisville has a nice one-up for their rival Kentucky, as they made the tournament while the defending champions are left home, but they have a possible matchup with Duke before heading to Atlanta.
Gonzaga took a number one seed for the first time in school history and could face Big Ten champions Ohio State as well as Wisconsin or Kansas State. Indiana also has a tough road, with Miami, Butler and Georgetown on their side of the bracket. Kansas has the other first seed and could face off against North Carolina, Florida and UCLA.
Louisville enters the tournament on a 10-game winning streak and has the top seed over Kansas, who won the Big 12 Tournament against Kansas State. Indiana is the third overall seed even though they lost to Wisconsin before the finals, but they had a good enough regular-season resume to earn it. The Final Four starts in April at the Georgia Dome and each of the top four seeds will be looking to survive and advance their way through the field.
Gonzaga has momentum entering the tournament as they are the number one-ranked team in the nation and are making their 15th straight appearance in the NCAA tournament and are on a 14 game winning streak. The Big East got the most teams in the tournament and Syracuse will be looking to rebound after losing to Louisville when they take on Montana.
The Cardinals finished the season ranked second, followed by Kansas, Indiana and Miami in the top five. The Bulldogs finished at the top of a rankings that fluctuated all throughout the season, seeing five different teams hold the top spot, including Indiana, Duke and Michigan. The championship winner will likely be a number one seed, boding well for Louisville, as five of the past six winners have been in the top spot.
To start off Louisville will win into the third round over Missouri, who will take down Colorado State in the second round to advance. The Cardinals have a tough road getting to Atlanta, but not nearly as tough as the East region. Duke will get by Albany, but they could have trouble if Creighton sneaks by Cincinnati. Oregon and Oklahoma State has upset alert written all over it, as does Ole Miss and Wisconsin in the West.
Ohio State has a chance to make a run after winning the Big Ten tournament, but they could have trouble with Arizona, Kansas State and Notre Dame depending on how things shake out. Miami won its first ACC title and is taking a hot streak into the tournament and should have no trouble in the first round. A true test could come against Butler, but the Hurricanes should make it through to play against the Hoosiers.
Prediction: Louisville takes it down.