Villanova Basketball
The Villanova Wildcats, who won the regular season Big East Conference trophy after beating the Creighton Bluejays at the Pavilion on Feb. 25, 2017 in Villanova, Pennsylvania, are poised to get a No.1 seed in March Madness. Getty Images

As conference tournaments get underway, the best teams in college basketball have a lot on the line. Even though they don’t need an automatic bid to reach the 2017 NCAA Tournament, they’ll be playing for top seeds in the field of 68.

Getting a high seed can be crucial in making it far during March Madness, especially when it concerns being a No.1 seed in one of the four regions. No No.1 seed has ever lost their first tournament game, and most go on to reach the Final Four.

More than half of the No.1 seeds have won their region since the tournament was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. All four No.1 seeds made it to last year’s Elite Eight, and three No. 1 seeds played in the 2015 Final Four.

With just a few days remaining until Selection Sunday, a handful of teams are in contention to be a top seed. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina and Gonzaga as the four No.1 seeds.

No matter what happens in their respective conference tournaments, it might be difficult for either Villanova or Kansas to find themselves as anything but a No.1 seed Sunday night. Both teams have dominated solid conferences with overall records of 28-3, and they rank first and second in RPI.

A season after winning the national championship, Villanova has proven that last year was no fluke. Their 15-3 record was easily the best in the Big East, a conference that is projected to get seven teams in the field of 68. Their only losses have come against likely tournament teams, and they have 13 wins against teams that could make the tournament with at-large bids.

Kansas has continued its usual dominance under head coach Bill Self, winning at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title for a 13th consecutive year. Going 16-2 in a conference that’s projected to get five teams into the Big Dance, the Jayhawks finished four games ahead of Baylor. They have just one loss to a team that likely won’t make the tournament, and Kansas has five wins against teams that are currently ranked in the top 23.

Gonzaga has the nation’s best record at 31-1, and they’ll face St. Mary’s Tuesday night in the WCC Championship Game. St. Mary’s is the only other team in Gonzaga’s conference that will make the tournament, though the Bulldogs have defeated the top teams on their schedule. Gonzaga has defeated the likes of Florida, Iowa State and Arizona, though their resume isn’t nearly as impressive as that of Villanova or Kansas.

North Carolina might be the best team in the country. They went 14-4 in the ACC, which is the nation’s best conference and could get as many as 10 teams into the Big Dance. The Tar Heels have 11 wins against teams that might reach the tournament.

Despite their impressive resume, North Carolina might need to win the ACC Tournament in order to secure a No.1 seed. They have six losses on the year, and Louisville could take their spot atop a region if they come away with the ACC Championship. Lunardi has projected the Cardinals to be a No.2 seed before the start of the ACC Tournament.

The winner of the Pac-12 Championship also has a chance to steal a No.1 seed. Arizona, Oregon and UCLA all rank in the top seven in the AP Top 25 Poll. Even though Arizona and Oregon tied for the best regular-season record in the conference, UCLA might have the best chance to win the Pac-12 Tournament. The Bruins are on a nine-game winning streak that includes wins over the Wildcats and Ducks.

The three Pac-12 teams have all lost four or fewer games on the season, but they play in a weak conference that might only get four bids. That’s why they’ll need at least one of the country's top teams to be upset in their conference tournament.

Kentucky is in a similar position, having won the SEC at 26-5 overall and 16-2 in the conference. The SEC will likely get five teams into the NCAA Tournament, and the Wildcats won’t get a No.1 seed without winning their conference tournament. They have impressive wins against North Carolina and Florida, but they are 1-3 against potential No.1 seeds.

Baylor can’t be ruled out as a potential No.1 seed if they beat Kansas and win the Big 12 Tournament, though it doesn’t appear to be likely. The Bears have lost five of their last 10 games.

Florida State might get a No.2 seed by winning the ACC Tournament, but a No.1 seed is likely out of reach for the Seminoles.