It’s bracket season in college basketball, with the 2022 NCAA Tournament field set. Gonzaga, Arizona, Kansas and Baylor are the four No. 1 seeds in this year’s bracket, with the Bulldogs and Bears looking to get back to the national title game. The Wildcats have re-established themselves as blue bloods of the sport in Tommy Lloyd’s first season, while the Jayhawks got a No. 1 seed by simply taking care of business something a lot of other teams couldn’t do.
Here’s a look at the four top seeds in this year’s tournament ranked by how likely it is they fail to even reach the Elite Eight.
The Bears have some injury concerns, with Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua out for the season and LJ Cryer in and out of the lineup. That could potentially be a problem in a round of 32 matchup with North Carolina’s Armando Bacot averaging 16.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. If the Bears manage to get past that hurdle, they likely have to deal with a Final Four team from last year in UCLA. The path to the Elite Eight is tough, especially if Baylor is missing key players.
The Pac-12 champions are going to get a game in the round of 32 regardless of their opponent but the real challenge will come in the Sweet 16. The Wildcats are likely to face either Houston or Illinois. The Cougars aren’t the same team as last year’s Final Four squad but rank fourth in KenPom. The Illini might have the biggest matchup nightmare in Kofi Cockburn. If there’s a game to trip Arizona up before the Elite Eight, that Sweet 16 matchup will be it.
The same reasoning for Arizona applies to Gonzaga, but the Bulldogs will face an inferior opponent in the round of 32 and Sweet 16. Every team in that portion of the West region is highly inconsistent aside from Gonzaga, so the Bulldogs have little reason to worry. Arkansas or UConn could be a tough matchup but Gonzaga would only face one of those teams.
The Jayhawks have thrown up some real stinkers in the NCAA Tournament before, but that might be the only way this team doesn’t make the Elite Eight. Providence has been on a major skid lately. San Diego State and Creighton don’t possess the offensive chops to take out Kansas. Iowa represents a a big threat but the Hawkeyes are in the 5-12 matchup against a tough Richmond team. They’ve also not made the Sweet 16 since 1999. It’s hard to bank on Iowa being there to face Kansas in a hypothetical matchup.