USA TODAY Sports gets you ready for March Madness.
AT THE WATER COOLER: Perhaps this season's biggest theme has been parity. There are plenty of good teams. But great teams? Not exactly.
Villanova's stunning loss to Seton Hall followed that theme and immediately knocked the Wildcats out of contention for a No. 1 seed. Two blowout losses to Creighton likely had the NCAA tournament selection committee members scratch their heads. Now it's a done deal. Their résumé has No. 2-seed written all over it.
BUBBLE TRACKER: Who's in, who's out?
BRACKETOLOGY: Projecting the field of 68
But is that really such a bad thing?
According to predictionmachine.com, 20-plus teams have a chance of winning the national championship. That means this likely will not be the year we'll see four No. 1 seeds in the Final Four. In fact we might not see any. Projected top seeds Florida, Arizona, Wichita State and new projected No. 1 Michigan all have weaknesses, despite their worthiness as No. 1s.
No. 2 seeds, No. 3 seeds and even No. 4 seeds would be considered safe bets to win the national championship.
Here's a reason why each of the top 16 seeds has a chance to win the whole thing.
- No. 1 seed Florida: Billy Donovan is one of the best coaches and the Gators are senior-laden.
- No. 1 seed Wichita State: The Shockers are 34-0 for a reason. They play with a chip on their shoulder and aren't a typical mid-major, despite skepticism about their strength of schedule.
- No. 1 seed Arizona: The Wildcats have great chemistry with point guard T.J. McConnell, an explosive shooting guard (Nick Johnson) and a dynamic forward (Aaron Gordon). Arizona's supporting cast has also recovered since the loss of starter Brandon Ashley.
- No. 1 seed Michigan: The regular-season Big Ten champs are led by sophomore sharpshooter Nik Stauskas and proved they can run with anyone in a rigorous Big Ten slate.
- No. 2 seed Villanova: Point out the Seton Hall loss and two blowouts to Creighton all you want, Jay Wright's group still has the moxie for a deep run with a veteran-laden group that locks up opponents defensively and can typically pour it in offensively.
- No. 2 seed Syracuse: With starter Jerami Grant in the lineup, the Orange can beat opponents with the vaulted 2-3 matchup zone and the offense of C.J. Fair and Tyler Ennis.
- No. 2 seed Kansas: If freshman center Joel Embiid returns from injury, this team has championship potential. Andrew Wiggins is starting to fully blossom and it's perfect timing.
- No. 2 seed Wisconsin: Bo Ryan has yet to reach the Final Four, but he's always put great teams together. This might be his best, led by Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky.
- No. 3 seed Duke: The Blue Devils can beat anybody when shots are falling, and their versatility can't be matched most of the time with two high scoring 6-8 forwards in Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood.
- No. 3 seed Virginia: Tony Bennett's offensive system might not be exciting, but it allows the Cavaliers to dictate the tempo and win games with their man-to-man defense — evidenced in ACC regular-season play.
- No. 3 seed Iowa State: Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane are two All-Americans who helped pilot the Cyclones to a strong finish in a loaded Big 12.
- No. 3 seed Creighton: Doug McDermott. Enough said.
- No. 4 seed Cincinnati: Mick Cronin's group has one of the most ferocious defenses in the country and the offense is anchored by All-American Sean Kilpatrick.
- No. 4 seed Michigan State: When healthy, the Spartans are undoubtedly a title contender. Gary Harris, Keith Appling and Adreian Payne can drive Michigan State all the way.
- No. 4 seed Louisville: The defending champs have flown under the radar due to a relatively weak non-conference slate with no signature wins. Well, the Cardinals just demolished Rutgers by 61 points on Thursday. That's reason enough right there.
- No. 4 seed San Diego State: Coach of the year candidate Steve Fisher doesn't get enough credit for the way he molds his athletic bunch into a defensively-sound unit. The Aztecs can beat the best teams, shown in a non-conference win against Kansas. Xavier Thames has put together an All-American-caliber season.
ALREADY DANCING: 12 of 68 teams have their conference tournaments, securing automatic bids to the NCAA tournament.
MID-MAJOR: Could be only one at-large this year
WICHITA STATE: A 'special thanks to the haters'
NUMBER OF THE DAY: 61. That's Louisville's margin of victory against Rutgers on Thursday in the AAC Tournament. Considering it's the Cardinals' first and only season in the American Athletic Conference, it's clear they're looking to make a lasting impression.
TWEET THAT SPEAKS VOLUMES: UConn defeated Memphis by 19 points in its hometown to advance in the AAC Tournament. All-American Shabazz Napier was rather blunt after the win.
HANDING OUT AWARDS: USA TODAY Sports' college hoops staff named their coach of the year and All-America teams.
DAYS UNTIL SELECTION SUNDAY: 2.
ON DECK: A look at the marquee matchups to watch/monitor today.
— Minnesota vs. Wisconsin | Big Ten Tournament (6:30 p.m., ESPN)
— North Carolina State vs. Syracuse | ACC Tournament (7 p.m., ESPN)
— Iowa State vs. Kansas | Big 12 Tournament (7 p.m., ESPNU)
— Colorado vs. No. 4 Arizona | Pac-12 Tournament (9 p.m.)
Scott Gleeson, a national college basketball writer/digital producer for USA TODAY Sports, is on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.
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