After a topsy-turvy college basketball season that was marked by a revolving door for the No. 1 ranking, the field of 68 teams for the 2013 men’s basketball tournament has been revealed, with Selection Sunday providing some notable surprises and absentees.
Kentucky, who had made appearances in 21 of the last 22 tournaments, did not receive a bid. The Wildcats began the season ranked No. 3, but failed to finish in the Top 25. John Calipari’s squad won the title last season, but lost three of their last four games.
Other schools that were snubbed include Tennessee, Virginia, Iowa, Alabama, and Maryland, despite all five schools finishing with 20 or more wins.
Gonzaga, who have under 5,000 undergraduate students, finished the season ranked No.1 and earned the top seed in the West Region. There are high hopes for the Bulldogs, who have never advanced beyond the Elite Eight. Gonzaga will play No. 16 seed Southern University on Thursday in Salt Lake City.
The No.1 seed in the East Region went to Indiana. The Hoosiers will face wither LIU Brooklyn or James Madison on Friday in Dayton, OH. Tom Crean's squad entered the season as the top-ranked team in the country, and spent more weeks than any other progam at No. 1.
Kansas earned the top seed in the South Region, and won’t have to travel far when they meet Sun Belt champion Western Kentucky on Friday in Kansas City. The driving distance between Lawrence and Kansas City is roughly 42 miles.
The Midwest Region is expected to be the most competitive in the tournament. Louisville earned the top seed, and perennial powerhouse Duke, who are ranked No. 2, are seeded at No. 2. Louisville will face either Liberty or North Carolina State in a second-round game Thursday. Eighth-ranked Michigan State earned the No. 3 seed, with No. 16 St. Louis seeded at No. 4.
Middle Tennessee are headed to the tournament as the last at-large bid, which was a surprise to many. The Blue Raiders finished the season with 28 wins, but with only one win over a Top 50 team (Ole Miss).
"I was (nervous), had some anxiety,” Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis told USA Today. “But I felt confident. I just thought with 28 wins and a non-conference strength of schedule of six, and the committee wants you to play well late, and we won 17 out of 18. I really just thought we'd done enough."