March Madness: Alabama, Houston, Kansas, Purdue all 1 seeds

No. 1 seed Alabama has been on a roll despite being involved in a murder case. Another No. 1 seed, defending national champion Kansas, is coming off a blistering loss and has a coach out of the hospital. Yet another Houston just saw their best player fall in a heap with a frightening wound.

This year’s March Madness the favorites are anything but perfect, but the presence of these teams and all their top-of-the-range issues could make for precisely what the NCAA wants its tournament to be – a perfectly unpredictable mess.

Most of the drama in this year’s installment selection was resolved well before Selection Sunday.

Arizona State and Nevada exited the bubble and entered the 68-team field. Rutgers and Oklahoma State did not. Purdue, with 7-foot-4 Zach Edey in the lead, edged out UCLA for the fourth and final No. 1 seed.

And in a decision almost everyone saw coming, the selection committee left North Carolina, last year’s national runner-up, out of the tournament. That made the Tar Heels the first team since the roster expanded to 64 teams in 1985 to start the season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll and finish it not doing the big dance.

The team they lost to, Kansas, is trying to become the first consecutive NCAA champion since Florida in 2007.

The Jayhawks won the West Region’s top seed, but only third overall, behind the Crimson Tide and Cougars. The Jayhawks are awaiting the return of coach Bill Self, who checked himself into the hospital last week complaining of chest tightness and balance issues. He was fired and should return this week.

Selection committee head Chris Reynolds said he considered every injury and absence.

“It’s definitely something the committee has talked about over the year and certainly played a role in the seeding and selection,” said Reynolds, Bradley’s sporting director.

He said the committee also didn’t ignore lopsided losses: Two of Kansas’ seven Ls came in March to Texas, a No. 2 seed, by 16 and 20 runs.

“They mark how they feel and we’re just going to do what we need to do to get to where we need to be,” Kansas forward KJ Adams said.

The tournament kicks off on Tuesday with two First Four matches. The full madness kicks off Thursday with 16 first-round games, then 16 more the next day.

Kansas’ Loss to Texas in the Big 12 Semi-Final on Saturday Probably Played in FanDuel Sportsbook putting the Jayhawks 10-1 to win the title, behind South Region Alabama (8-1 odds) and overall favorite Houston (5-1 odds), who would play the Final Four in their hometown if he wins the Midwest region. The semi-finals and finals are set at NRG Stadium on April 1 and 3.

The Cougars lost their conference title game on Sunday largely because they were without Marcus Sasser, the top scorer who left the previous day’s match early after slipping awkwardly and injuring his groin.

Purdue likely found its way to the ‘1’ line when it won the program’s second Big Ten tournament title on Sunday, less than 24 hours after UCLA, also down this season, fell by two to Arizona in the Pac-12 title game.

For Alabama, the SEC tournament was a relative breeze — no one stayed in double digits of the tide — unlike the past two months, which have been greeted with a nearly constant stream of headlines. about a former player, Darius Miles, who is charged with capital murder in the January 15 murder of 23-year-old Jamea Harris.

“I’m not sure we would have predicted this,” said coach Nate Oats of the tide, who is a first-time No. 1 seed. “To be the No. 1 seed overall is great. That says what an amazing regular season we’ve had. You still have to go and win the games.

The SEC and Big Ten led the way by placing eight teams each in the 68-team field. Duke won the ACC for the 22nd time and was one of five teams in that conference in a relatively weak year.

But this tournament is still more than big schools with big pedigrees.

Some teams to watch include 13th seed Iona, coached by legend, Rick Pitino, who has the Gaels on the show for the second time in three years – with some people wondering if he’ll be heading for a vacancy at St. John’s soon. Iona earned a brutal draw – a first-round encounter against fourth-seeded UConn.

There’s Southern Conference champion Furman, back in the tournament for the first time since 1980, and MEAC champion Howard, back in the tournament for the first time since 1992.

There’s Kennesaw State, the program that went 1-28 in 2019-20 and now finds itself in range. For the rest of the dreamers, there’s Texas Southern — the team that won its conference tournament as the No. 8 seed and comes to March Madness at 14-20 for a playoff against Fairleigh Dickinson.


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