Villanova takes No. 1 overall seed, could meet Duke in Elite Eight

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sportfrontDefending national champion Villanova is the No. 1 overall seed in the 2017 NCAA tournament. The Wildcats are a top seed for the third time in school history.

Joining Nova as No. 1 seeds are Kansas, North Carolina and Gonzaga.

In the East Region, the Wildcats will begin the defense of their title in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday night against the winner of a play-in game between Mount St. Mary's and New Orleans. In the second round, either Virginia Tech or Wisconsin would await.

But lurking down the bracket, Duke is the No. 2 seed in the East.

If 10th-seeded Marquette can get through No. 7 South Carolina in the East -- no easy task considering the game will be played in Greenville, South Carolina -- the Golden Eagles would likely face the Blue Devils and coach Mike Krzyzewski. Marquette, in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013, is coached by former Duke player and assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski.

Kansas is the No. 1 seed in the Midwest and will play in Tulsa, Oklahoma, against the winner of North Carolina Central and UC Davis. UC Davis is making its first NCAA tournament appearance.

The second round in Tulsa could have a matchup of blue bloods with Kansas taking on Michigan State -- if the Spartans can win an 8-9 game against Miami.

The Jayhawks lost their Big 12 tournament opener to TCU without suspended star Josh Jackson. Kansas missed out on a chance to get revenge on Iowa State in the conference tournament but might get another crack at the Cyclones in the Sweet 16.

The Cyclones, the 5-seed in the Midwest, beat Kansas in overtime in Lawrence in February and closed the regular season with nine wins out of 10. They will have to get past Nevada and possibly Purdue for a trip to the regional semifinals.

Louisville is the No. 2 seed in the Midwest, and Oregon is the 3. Ducks coach Dana Altman could face his old team, Creighton, in the second round. Altman spent 16 seasons at Creighton before leaving after the 2009-10 season.

North Carolina took the top seed in the South. The Tar Heels won the ACC by two games but were bounced from the conference tournament in the semifinals by Duke. The Tar Heels play Texas Southern first, with Arkansas or Seton Hall waiting in the second round in Greenville, South Carolina.

The South Region is dripping with blue and championship history.

The No. 2 seed is Kentucky, and No. 3 is UCLA. Along with North Carolina, those teams have 25 total championships.

The Wildcats will face in-state neighbor and tournament newcomer No. 15 Northern Kentucky, located about an hour north of Lexington. They will play Friday in Indianapolis.

When Kentucky's pairing was announced, the Wildcats were traveling home from Nashville, Tennessee, after winning the SEC tournament hours earlier. They seemed unfazed upon seeing the bracket as they settled onto couches, chairs and the floor in coach John Calipari's living room, where the team usually watches the selection show.

"A few things started leaking on Twitter about it," senior forward Derek Willis said. "When I was walking up the driveway, that's when I found out where we had gotten seeded. We just take what we get and go from there."

Butler, which has the highest seed in school history at No. 4, will be playing in nearby Milwaukee, Wisconsin, against Big South champion Winthrop.

Butler coach Chris Holtmann faced Winthrop at his only other head-coaching stop, Gardner-Webb.

"We were in the same league, and I think they won it one or two years, maybe my first year [at Gardner-Webb]," Holtmann said after the pairings were announced. "I think [coach] Pat [Kelsey] came on in my last or final year there."

Minnesota's first NCAA bid in four seasons under Richard Pitino -- son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino -- makes this the first time a father and son have each taken a team as a head coach to the same NCAA tournament.

Seeded No. 5 in the South Region, the Gophers face a dangerous first-round foe in Middle Tennessee, but they are playing in Milwaukee, about a five-hour drive from Minnesota's campus.

Wichita State, ranked 20th in the nation in the latest Associated Press poll, was given a No. 10 seed in the South.

"I'm just glad [the selection committee] didn't forget about us," Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said only somewhat tongue-in-cheek. "I was starting to think they might forget about us and not put us in at all."

In the West, Gonzaga is a No. 1 seed for the second time in school history, and it comes with some memories -- but not all of them good.

Gonzaga will face No. 16 seed South Dakota State on Thursday in Salt Lake City. The other time the Bulldogs received a No. 1 seed was 2013. And they were sent to Salt Lake City. And they were upset in the round of 32 by Wichita State as the Shockers made a run to the Final Four. This time, the Bulldogs could face eighth-seeded Northwestern in the second round.

Northwestern, in the NCAA tournament for the first time, will face Vanderbilt and first-year Commodores coach Bryce Drew in the opening round.

No major conference team had waited as long as Northwestern to get its first NCAA bid.

The Commodores, meanwhile, take a lot of baggage into the tournament: 15 losses, the most ever by an at-large team.

Vanderbilt has won seven of its past nine games and 10 of 14. The Commodores notched six top-50 wins, three against Florida and one at Arkansas. They also beat Iowa State.

That earned Vanderbilt the 9-seed in the West Region and the 33rd seed overall in the tournament.

Arizona is the No. 2 seed in the West, the first time in 26 years the top two teams in the West Region are actually from the Western part of the United States.

Florida State is the No. 3 seed. An interesting first-round opponent awaits the Seminoles in Orlando, Florida: Florida Gulf Coast, as Dunk City is back in the NCAAs.

"Tell them that we love being on upset alert," said FSU junior point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes. "Even when we were on our six-game run against ranked teams [where they went 5-1], no one believed in us."

Syracuse, a controversial bubble team that made it to the Final Four last year, was left out this time -- its No. 84 ranking in the RPI and lack of solid road wins dooming its hopes.

"Last year, we had the same number of losses [14] and the committee chose to go with teams that had wins," said Orange coach Jim Boeheim, whose team's losses this season included blowouts against St. John's and Boston College. "This year, it was virtually the same committee, but they were emphasizing the losses you had."

Illinois State of the Missouri Valley Conference was left out, as the selection committee again mainly shunned the little guys, giving all four of the final bubble spots to teams from the six biggest conferences.

"I'm pretty upset, mad-slash-sad, shocked," said ISU point guard Paris Lee, the Missouri Valley Player of the Year. "Everybody in that locker room is human. Everybody is hurt."

Illinois State coach Dan Muller said: "It is idiotic to me."

The Final Four is April 1 and 3 in Phoenix.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: ESPN

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