0 out of 4
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Despite the appearance that prevailed when Duke scored 118 points against Kentucky in the first game of the year, there was no dominant team in men's basketball this year.
The pre-season # 1 Kansas seems to be heading towards a # 4 seed. It turns out that Duke was not a complete juggernaut. Gonzaga has 30 wins, including one on Duke, but is beaten in the West Coast Conference tournament.
North Carolina and Virginia have had good seasons but would not necessarily be favored over Duke or Kentucky if they met in the NCAA Tournament.
You would not qualify this as a crowded race for the number 1 seed, but from a handful of worthy candidates, these are the four most deserving of Selection Sunday's approach.
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It has been a long time since Duke did not beat Kentucky early in the year. It took the Wildcats a few months to get together, but once they did, it became apparent that they had all the pieces in hand to qualify for the Final Four.
This is not a quintessential team of John Calipari – the quintessence of the Calipari team belongs to Mike Krzyzewski this year – but it could be from one of his best teams.
Since losing to Alabama in the SEC opening game, the Wildcats are 17-2 and have won victories over Auburn, the state of Mississippi, Kansas and Tennessee. Since both losses were recorded against Tennessee and LSU, you can say that Kentucky did not have a bad match in two months.
The Wildcats are balanced too. They have four players with an average of 11 to 15 points, with a good mix of veterans – like the great senior man Reid Travis and the sophomore PJ Washington – and students from talented first year in Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro.
Kentucky is an outstanding offensive team from within the three-point arc. Although she finished last in the SEC in three points, Kentucky finished second to Tennessee in terms of rebound percentage and rebounds, and the Wildcats averaged 76.7 points per game.
This is not a collection of one-and-dones. It's even better: a talented team with experience and a summary of a No. 1 seed.
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If the Cavaliers have been haunted since last March, when they became the # 1 first male seed to lose in the first round, they did not show it on the ground this year.
The formula for Tony Bennett's group was the same as that obtained with a record of 29-3: excellent defense, excellent offensive performance, and lots of good behind-the-scenes games and outdoor shots with guys who did the turn the block once or twice. Virginia's top scorers have all shot at least 39% out of three, making Cavaliers one of the tournament's toughest teams.
Virginia has eight wins against teams in the Top 25, and the Cavaliers lost only against Duke (two tight games) and against FSU.
It can be said that Virginia's style is less effective in an NCAA tournament context. The Cavaliers have won at least 29 games in five of the last six years, but have passed the Sweet 16 once (2016).
But you have to judge the teams on what they did during this season alone.
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The Blue Devils probably stole a No. 1 seed from their North Carolina rival Friday night. The Tar Heels swept Duke during the regular season, but that happened with Zion Williamson, the victim of the most notorious injury in college basketball.
With Williamson on the ground on Friday night, either team could have won this match, which means that one or the other could be a seed no.
However, as it worked well, Williamson had 31 points, 11 rebounds and the decisive basket of the game by making his way down the hall, bouncing his miss and putting it back into play. It was a game that few non-Williamson players could have played, and this revealed the glaring difference between a great team and a great team that also has an unparalleled talent.
Williamson changes everything. With him in training, Duke deserves a No. 1 seed … hardly.
4 out of 4
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The defeat in the West Coast Conference tournament leaves a doubt as to whether the Bulldogs deserve to be ranked first. But by Friday 's approach, Gonzaga' s 30 victories accounted for more than all the teams competing for first place, and the Bulldogs inflicted enough damage outside the conference to show that their shining record did not stand out. was not entirely built on a weak conference schedule.
The Zags were the first team to beat Duke this year. They have also won wins over Texas A & M, Illinois, Arizona, Creighton and Washington, with losses against Tennessee and North Carolina. The resume does not blow you, but it's not nothing.
As usual, Gonzaga owned his league. Even though the WCC is not exactly the ACC, remaining undefeated in any league is a major achievement, and the history of Gonzaga's tournaments indicates that dominating the WCC is a good Indicator of a team capable of succeeding in a deep race.
Thirty-three games in the season, Gonzaga has a bad defeat. There is no reason to punish that.