The most recent Associated Press Top 25 men’s college basketball poll largely reflects how each team was seeded for the 2016 NCAA Tournament, especially at the very top.
The top five highest-ranked teams prior to the start of March Madness with the First Four matchups on Tuesday and the first round on Thursday, either hold a No. 1 or No. 2 seed and all are expected to and hope to advance well past this first weekend.
And right now, the No. 1 seeds are rolling into the tournament. Here’s a look at the top five ranked teams and how they’re playing before the tournament as well as the full AP top 25 poll.
After spelling a difficult 2-3 run at the start of Big 12 play, the Jayhawks have won 14 straight, with eight of those wins coming against ranked conference opponents. Behind a combined 48 points from guards Wayne Selden Jr. and Devonte’ Graham, Kansas used a big second half to blow past West Virginia in the Big 12 conference tournament championship and right now they’re the biggest favorite to win it all this year.
Bill Self is one of the best coaches in college basketball, and he has senior leadership in forward Perry Ellis. Anything less than a trip to the national championship will be considered a letdown for Kansas.
2.Michigan State (29-5)
The perennial tournament powerhouse Spartans sewed up the Big Ten tournament title by scooting past ranked Maryland and Purdue by a combined six points, which only serves as proof once again that Tom Izzo’s squad can win close games by keeping their composure. Michigan State’s won nine straight, and senior guard Denzel Valentine has notched five double-doubles during the streak. The Spartans have a great deal of depth this season, which is why many are expected them to reach the national championship.
3.North Carolina (28-6)
The Tar Heels have showed in recent weeks that if given a second chance, they respond well. Over the last month, Roy Williams’ team suffered losses but also avenged them to Duke and Virginia, with the latter coming in the ACC tournament title game thanks to sophomore guard Joel Berry II’s 19 points and Brice Johnson’s 12 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Johnson is one of the best big men in the nation, and should play a large role in the Heels' tournament run.
Despite that letdown to North Carolina, the Cavaliers wrangled a No. 1 seed from Michigan State and for good reason. They still own the second-ranked defense in the country, averaging five steals per game, and own a 7-2 record against ranked opponents this season, including a sweep of Miami.
Virginia remains a top Final Four contender due to senior guard and leading scorer Malcolm Brogdon’s 18.7 points per game and senior forward Anthony Gill holding down the frontline with 13.3 points and 6.1 rebounds a contest. Head coach Tony Bennett, the son of famed coach Dick Bennett, will need his Cavaliers to step up on defense against some upset-minded schools in the South Region.
With four players averaging double-digits in points, especially the forward tandem of sophomore Dillon Brooks and senior Chris Bouchard, the Ducks slipped into a No. 1 seed by outlasting Arizona in overtime and obliterating a tough Utah team in the Pac-12 tournament championship. Oregon’s the perfect example of a team getting hot at the right time, and hoping to parlay that run into the tournament. Dana Altman's squad has a strong chance to reach the Final Four in a somewhat weak West Region. It's an ambitious but attainable goal for a program that entered the season unranked.
AP Top 25