The NCAA Tournament is finally underway, and it’s time to see if your March Madness 2017 predictions will pan out. Millions of brackets have been filled out with fans looking to correctly pick upsets, the Final Four and the college basketball national champion.
The quality of basketball will improve as the tournament moves along, but the first round might be the most fun. With four games on at a time and lower seeded teams looking to become this year’s Cinderella, Thursday and Friday should provide many memorable moments.
Here are three predictions for the first round of the NCAA Tournament:
No.1 and No.2 seeds will be perfect
A No.1 seed has never lost to a No.16 seed, and there’s no reason to believe that will change in 2017. Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina and Gonzaga have all easily dismissed the weakest teams on their schedule, and that should continue on Thursday and Friday.
No.2 seeds have been prone to upsets in recent years. Four No.15 seeds have advanced to the second round since 2012, including last year’s Middle Tennessee State team that stunned Michigan State. This season’s No.2 seeds, however, are too good to be upset in the first round. Duke is tied as the favorite to win the national championship, and Arizona has a resume that was arguably good enough to earn them a No.1 seed. The talent gap between Kentucky and Northern Kentucky is far too great to produce an upset, and Louisville has only lost to good teams.
Seven ACC teams will advance
The ACC was clearly the best conference in college basketball this season. Nine ACC teams received bids to the Big Dance, and Syracuse arguably deserved to be No.10. Wake Forest’s loss in the opening round means that eight teams are left in the Round of 64, but that number might not change a whole lot in the first two days. Every ACC team has a legitimate chance to win their first round game.
Top seeds like Duke, North Carolina and Louisville could be headed to the Final Four, and they shouldn’t have any problems in the first round. Florida State is a 12.5-point favorite as a No.3 seed. No.5 seeds are vulnerable in the NCAA Tournament, but Notre Dame and Virginia are both favored by at least six points. If either No.8 Miami or No.9 Virginia Tech survives, the ACC will be nearly perfect.
Two No.12 seeds will advance
Notre Dame and Virginia will be tough to beat, but the tradition of No.12 seeds finding success in March Madness should continue. A No.12 seed might be more likely to win this year than in any other year because there technically doesn’t even need to be an upset in order for it to happen. Middle Tennessee State is actually a betting favorite over Minnesota. Middle Tennessee State followed up last year’s March Madness upset with a 30-4 record, while Minnesota probably should have been a No.7 or No.8 seed, playing in a weak Big Ten.
That means just Iowa State, Notre Dame or Virginia have to be upset, and recent history says one of them will fall. No.12 seeds are 8-8 in the last four years.