December 7, 2023

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2022 NCAA Tournament bracket expert picks: No. 1 seeds predicted before Selection Sunday show

It was just over three weeks ago that the NCAA men’s basketball selection committee unveiled its top 16 teams in the annual NCAA March Madness Men’s Bracket Preview. Now, the real deal is nearly here as the full field of 68 will be revealed Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on the 2022 NCAA Tournament Selection Show live on CBS.

At the time of the preview show last month, Auburn was included with Gonzaga, Arizona and Kansas as the leaders in the clubhouse to be No. 1 seeds. But the Tigers lost that afternoon at Florida and are just 3-3 since the early reveal, which calls their credentials as a potential No. 1 seed into question. The Jayhawks also lost their next two games after the bracket preview. But did winning the Big 12 Tournament to enter Selection Sunday on a five-game winning streak do enough to get KU on the No. 1 seed line? Arizona and Gonzaga seem like the safest bets to be No. 1 seeds, but both the Wildcats and Bulldogs also suffered losses shortly after the bracket preview.

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So who will end up on the No. 1 line when the 2022 NCAA Tournament bracket is revealed?

Keep on reading for CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm’s top seed projections along with a breakdown of how our college basketball experts would vote if they were members of the committee. 

NCAA Tournament Bracketology projection

Here’s how Palm has projected the top four seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Check out his complete Bracketology here.

NCAA Tournament expert picks

Here’s how our college basketball staff would vote if they were on the selection committee.

Gary Parrish: Gonzaga and Arizona were locks to be No. 1 seeds when we went to bed Friday night, meaning only two spots remained available heading into the weekend. When Kansas won the Big 12 Tournament on Saturday, after sharing the Big 12 regular-season title with Baylor, the Jayhawks secured a No. 1 seed thanks to a resume featuring a national-best 12 Quadrant 1 wins and just one loss outside of Quadrant 1. So, that leaves one spot open. And of the teams competing for it — Baylor, Kentucky, Tennessee, Villanova and Purdue — it seems clear to me that Baylor has the best resume of the bunch. The Bears are 10-5 in Quadrant 1 and 18-6 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. Even if Tennessee wins the SEC Tournament on Sunday to improve to 16-7 in the first two quadrants with 10 Quadrant 1 wins and zero losses outside of Quadrant 1, and/or Purdue wins the Big Ten Tournament on Sunday to improve to 15-6 in the first two quadrants with nine Quadrant 1 wins and only one loss outside of Quadrant 1, I still believe the committee will go with Scott Drew’s Bears. That’s unless the committee decides to drop Baylor to a No. 2 seed because of the uncertainty surrounding the availability of LJ Cryer.

Matt Norlander: We’re going to see history. The NCAA began seeding the field in 1978. Never has there been a tournament where the top four teams in the men’s bracket have all come from outside the Eastern time zone. But it will happen here with two from the West (Gonzaga, Arizona) and two from the Midwest/South (Kansas, Baylor). Gonzaga needs no further introduction. Easily the strongest résumé and the rightful No. 1 overall seed for the second year in a row. Arizona’s 31-3 record makes for a clear-cut No. 2. As for Kansas, the choice is all too simple: the committee, time after time, has rewarded double champions of the regular season and conference tournament in power leagues. As soon as KU locked up a win vs. Texas Tech, it jumped the line to No. 3. And as for Baylor, it outflanks Kentucky because it has 12 Quadrant 1 wins — two more than any other team. The losses are all in Quadrant 1, too. And the only team with more combined Quad 1-2 wins than Baylor? Kansas. This wound up being a well-established top four as things settled in the three days leading up to Sunday.

Kyle Boone: The race for the four top seeds this week and into the weekend — or really the three of four available top seeds, because Gonzaga’s been a virtual lock for the top overall seed — was really just a process of elimination. Auburn losing its first game of the SEC Tournament likely cost it a chance at the top line despite more Quadrant 1 wins than Arizona after the Wildcats won the Pac-12 Tournament. Baylor losing its first Big 12 Tournament game most likely cost it a chance at the top overall seed, however long a shot that was, though its standing as a No. 1 still seems secure. And Kansas secured a spot on the No. 1 line by winning the Big 12 Tournament. All three appear to be locks in some order behind the Zags. Arizona gets the second overall seed behind a college hoops-leading 31 wins. As co-Big 12 champs in the regular season, the difference between Kansas and Baylor should be KU’s run in Kansas City and BU’s early exit.

David Cobb: It is morally suspect to peg Kansas as a No. 1 seed without also putting Kentucky on that same line. The Wildcats beat Kansas 80-62 on the road on Jan. 29 in what may be the most impressive win of the season in college basketball. Know what happened when Baylor played at KU? The Bears lost by 24. If it’s between the Bears and Wildcats, you’re looking at two teams who bowed out of their league tournaments earlier than expected. Both have dealt with injuries that impacted some of their losses. But only one blew out one of the other likely No. 1 seeds on their home floor. That was Kentucky. It should also count for something that the Wildcats have both Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington back and healthy entering the NCAA Tournament. Baylor is without Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua for the rest of the season, and LJ Cryer remains day-to-day.

Chip Patterson: There’s no question about the No. 1 overall seed with Gonzaga’s sterling profile, but there is some worthy debate regarding the order of the rest. I’ve got Kansas as the next No. 1 thanks to the Jayhawks’ 12 Quadrant 1 wins compared to Arizona’s six (and a better winning percentage in Q1 as well). But Tommy Lloyd’s Wildcats, carrying zero losses outside of the first quadrant, should check in just behind Kansas, especially after winning the Pac-12 tourney. For the final No. 1, I’ll give the nod to Baylor over Kentucky, believing that a better winning percentage in Q1 opportunities (10-5 for the Bears, 9-7 for the Wildcats) could be the tiebreaker at the end of the seed line.