Bracketology: Gonzaga is top overall seed with UCLA, Kansas and Villanova also earning No. 1 seeds


There are only five days left until the start of college basketball season!  With fans back in the stands!  There are also 129 days left until Selection Sunday, which means it’s time for a preseason NCAA Tournament bracket.

You will be shocked to learn that the favorite to start the season, Gonzaga, is the overall No. 1 seed in this bracket. The Zags return Drew Timme, the leading candidate for national player of the year and one of the top candidates for freshman of the year in Chet Holmgren. Andrew Nebhard returns as well and Holmgren is part of the third-ranked recruiting class along with fellow five-star Hunter Sallis. Coach Mark Few is well equipped to make another run at the school’s first national title.

Last year’s First Four to Final Four run has propelled UCLA to the No. 2 overall seed. The Bruins return the key parts of last year’s squad, let by Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. They add to that 6-foot-10, 255-pound Myles Johnson, who transferred in from Rutgers. Mick Cronin’s group has the talent and experience to make another deep run.

Bracketology

The No. 3 overall seed is perennial Big 12 power Kansas, which is looking to reclaim its spot atop the conference. Their only key loss from last season’s lineup is Marcus Garrett, but Remy Martin, the transfer from Arizona State should fill that void nicely. They also picked up Joseph Yesufu from Drake, who averaged 12 points per game as a part-time starter for the Bulldogs.

No. 4 is projected to be Villanova. The Wildcats welcome the return of Collin Gillespie, who is a preseason All-American, and three more of their top four scorers from a year ago. The Wildcats are a heavy favorite to win the Big East and have a handful of big non-conference games that should give them a chance to build an impressive tournament resume if they are up to the challenge.

Bracketology top seeds

Check out Palm’s latest bracket, full field of 68 and all the teams on the bubble on the Bracketology hub.

Conference call

The Big Ten has the most teams in the projected bracket with eight, led by two-seeds Purdue and Michigan. Illinois and Ohio State are also top-four seeds, while Maryland and Michigan State are in the top half of the bracket. The league is so loaded at the top that is may be difficult for one team to emerge and stake a claim for a top seed in the bracket.

The SEC and ACC are also well represented with seven teams each. The SEC has more in the top part of the bracket with three teams among the top 16 and two others on the No. 5-line. The ACC only has Duke among the top four seeds, but Florida State and North Carolina are not far off.

The team that made the biggest move up from the summer’s early pre-preseason bracket was Memphis. Coach Penny Hardaway got late commitments from two five-star recruits, F Emoni Bates and C Jalen Duren. That gave the Tigers the top-rated recruiting class and a legitimate shot to not only make the tournament for first time in Hardaway’s tenure at Memphis, but to make a deep run in it.

Keep an eye on the Valley  

Among the non-major conferences, the Missouri Valley is the only league besides the West Coast Conference that is close to multiple bids. Loyola Chicago is in the field as a No. 8  seed and Drake is the first team out. 

However, the conference has at least two other teams with the talent and experience to make a run at the NCAA tournament in Missouri State and Northern Iowa. Valparaiso could be interesting as well if their influx of transfers can be impactful. The Beacons (no longer Crusaders) bring in three former Wisconsin players, led by G Kobe King and former Michigan State C Travis Kithier.



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