68 teams, 67 games, six rounds of play and one champion. For the first time since 2019, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) will host the Division I men’s basketball tournament in its full normalcy after a 2020 tournament that was canceled and a 2021 tournament that allowed for only 25% of maximum spectator capacity.
“We are created to be interdependent and engaged,” College Sports Analyst Clark Kellogg told CBS sports. “That takes place in a really amplified way during this wonderful three-plus week run to a championship that captivates the nation in so many ways.”
In 2021, the Baylor University Bears took down the Gonzaga Bulldogs, bringing home their first NCAA title in school history after their 13th appearance in the tournament, according to NCAA.com. Although the Final Four and title game consisted of highly ranked teams, there were also a handful of major upsets early in the tournament that exemplified exactly why March is full of madness.
The No. 15 seed Oral Roberts University (ORU) out of Tulsa, Okla. took down No. 3 seeded Ohio State University and No. 7 seeded University of Florida before No. 3 Arkansas just barely defeated them 72-70 in the Sweet Sixteen. According to NCAA.com, the ORU Golden Eagles are only the second No. 15 team to make it to the Sweet Sixteen in NCAA history.
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins also made history in 2021 becoming the fifth No. 11 seeded team to make the Final Four in NCAA history. UCLA upset No. 6 Brigham Young University, No. 2 Alabama and No. 1 seeded Michigan University, according to NCAA.com.
All 67 of the matchups for 2022 were squared up after Selection Sunday took place on March 13. A tradition as old as the tournament, this is when the seedings of each team is decided by the selection committee and ultimately, when fans can see if their college team is making the tournament or taking a long offseason, according to CBS sports.
Coming out of the four divisions of the tournament, the number one seeded teams selected were the Baylor Bears, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the Kansas Jayhawks and the Arizona Wildcats. According to NCAA.com, 23 of the last 36 NCAA men’s basketball tournament champions were dubbed one seeds on Selection Sunday.
Despite overwhelming success by No. 1 seeds, many college basketball fans are rooting against the selection committee.
“I think this year’s tournament has the opportunity to be as hectic a tournament as we’ve ever seen before,” said Sacred Heart Alumnus Dan Gardella. “I think this year’s field is much more experienced with talented veterans and that could lead to some upsets and Cinderella runs.”
The No. 2 seeds include the Villanova Wildcats, the Auburn Tigers, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Duke Blue Devils. Villanova has one the most conference titles of these four teams in the last 10 years with five Big East Conference Championships, according to the New York Post.
Back in June of 2021, longtime Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced this would be his last season before retiring. Krzyzewski has served at the helm of the Blue Devils program since 1980 with 15 ACC championships and five national championships under his belt.
“Duke certainly can be the story of the tournament if they can find a way to win the tournament in Coach K’s last season on the bench,” said Gardella. “That being said, I don’t think they’ll get it done.”
The madness will begin on March 15 and March 16 from Dayton, Ohio and will conclude with the championship game on April 4 at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.