Oregon may have taken the place of Michigan State for the fourth No. 1 regional seed in the NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket unveiled Sunday night.

But it is the Spartans and not the Ducks who join Kansas, North Carolina and Virginia in the first four spots in the Power 16 ratings that came on the heels of the NCAA revealing the 68-team field and bracket.

Kansas (South), North Carolina (East), Virginia (Midwest) and Oregon (West) landed the top regional seeds with Michigan State No. 5 in the overall seed line.

The “First Four games”, in Dayton on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, will trim the field to 64, with Vanderbilt and Wichita State on Tuesday night (9:10 p.m. ET) shaping up as, perhaps, the best-ever First Four matchup.

The teams are penciled in as 11 seeds with the winner taking on sixth seed Arizona Thursday night in Providence.

My choices to reach the April 2-4 Final Four in Houston: Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State (the No. 2 seed behind Virginia in the Midwest) and Texas A&M.

The winner? I’ll go with Denzel Valentine and the MSU Spartans.

Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Kansas (1)
Certainly look no worse than strong co-favorite (with Michigan State) after rolling through the Big 12 Tournament. No. 1 seed vs. No. 16 Austin Peay (Thursday/Des Moines).
2. Michigan St. (2)
Denzel Valentine was in the top spot of the John R. Wooden Award ballot I filed Monday morning. No. 2 seed vs. No. 15 Middle Tennessee State (Friday/St. Louis).
3. North Carolina (4)
The Tar Heels’ championship hopes increase considerably if Marcus Paige is nailing jumpers. No. 1 seed vs. No. 16 Florida Gulf Coast or Fairleigh Dickinson (Tuesday First Four Dayton/UNC plays winner Thursday/Raleigh).
4. Virginia (3)
Cavs got a top seed despite loss to UNC in ACC final.  No. 1 seed vs. No. 16 Hampton (Thursday/Raleigh).
5. Oregon (8)
The Ducks darn-near frittered away their semifinal with Arizona Friday then rolled past Utah in the Pac 12 finale. No. 1 seed vs. No. 16 Holy Cross or Southern U (Wednesday First  Four Dayton/Oregon plays winner Friday/Spokane).
6. Kentucky (12)
The Wildcats’ backcourt is about as good as it gets right now. No. 4 seed vs. No. 13 Stony Brook (Thursday/Des Moines).
7. Villanova
The loss to Seton Hall certainly knocked the Wildcats out of the running for a No. 1 seed. No. 2 seed vs. UNC Ashville (Friday/Brooklyn).
8. Xavier (5)
The Musketeers’ No. 2 seed is program’s best-ever. vs. No. 15 Weber State (Thursday/St. Louis).
9. Oklahoma (11)
A half-tic of a second earlier release on Buddy Hield’s jump shot against West Virginia and the Sooners would have had game No. 3 with Kansas. No. 2 seed vs. No. 15 Cal State Bakersfield (Friday/Oklahoma City).
10.  Texas A&M (9)
It’s the Aggies’ first NCAA tourney appearance in six years. No. 3 seed vs. No. 14 Green Bay (Thursday/Oklahoma City).
11. Utah (8)
The Utes’ winning streak was blunted by Oregon Saturday night in Las Vegas. No. 3 seed vs. No. 14 Fresno State (Thursday/Denver).
12. Maryland (13)
The Ducks can win the Pac 12 regular-season crown (and No. 1 tourney seed in Las Vegas) with a sweep on its Southern California trek this week.
13. Indiana (7)
The Big Ten quarterfinal loss to Michigan probably cost the Hoosiers a seed line. No. 5 seed vs. No. 12 Chattanooga (Thursday/Des Moines).
14. Purdue (14)
Based upon the way they looked at the Big Ten tourney, the Boilermakers may prove to be much tougher than their seed. No. 5 seed vs. No. 12 Little Rock (Thursday/Denver).
15. West Virginia (NR)
Few college programs use full-court pressure defense to the extent that the Mountaineers do. No. 3 seed vs. No. 14 Stephen F. Austin (Friday/Brooklyn).
16.  Miami (NR)
The No. 10 overall seed in the tourney field and one of the five (of seven overall) ACC squads among the top 22 seeds. No.  3 seed vs. No. 14 Buffalo (Thursday/Providence).

ON THE CUSP: Arizona 25-8, Arkansas Little Rock 29-4, Baylor 22-11, Cal 23-10, Chattanooga 29-5, Cincinnati 22-10, Connecticut 24-10, Gonzaga 26-7, Iowa State 21-11, Louisville 23-8, Providence 23-10, Saint Joseph’s 27-7, Saint Mary’s 27-5, Seton Hall 25-8, SMU 25-5, Wichita State 24-8.


*Joel Berry II (North Carolina): The sophomore guard averaged 17.0 points and 2.7 assists as the Tar Heels knocked off Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Virginia to win the ACC tourney title in Washington, DC.

*Daniel Hamilton (Connecticut): The 6-7 sophomore from Los Angeles averaged 21.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists to lead the Huskies to the American Conference tourney championship.

*Tyler Ulis (Kentucky): There certainly isn’t a better point guard in college right now and very few – if any – players at any position playing better than this sophomore. He averaged 24.0 points and 5.0 rebounds as the Wildcats knocked off Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M in the SEC tourney.

*Denzel Valentine (Michigan State): The leading candidate (at least from my perspective) for the John R. Wooden Award averaged 17.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game as the Spartans knocked off Ohio State, Maryland Purdue to win the Big Ten Tournament.

*Jameel Warney (Stony Brook): The 6-8, 255-pound senior scored 43 points (hitting 18 of 22 shots from the field and seven of 10 from the free-throw line) with 10 rebounds and four blocked shots as his team beat Vermont in the America East tourney final for the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Follow Frank on twitter @FrankieBur. Also make sure to follow his website at www.burlisononbasketball.com. College coaching staffs interested in Burlison’s scouting service should contact him at [email protected]


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