Winners and Losers: The teams impacted the most by the NCAA tournament bracket reveals

The brackets for both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments were revealed on Sunday night and SEC teams grabbed the top spots in both events. Alabama is the top seed in the men’s tournament while South Carolina is the No. 1 overall seed in the women’s tournament.

As they do every year, the bracket reveals included a few surprises and intriguing matchups. Here are the teams that benefitted and lost the most when the fields for each tournament were released.

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Men's Winners

Alabama is the top team

The Crimson Tide’s convincing win in the SEC tournament title game on Sunday solidified their status as the top seed in the men’s NCAA tournament and it’s hard not to like the draw Alabama was given as a result.

Alabama should have more than enough shooting and athleticism to get past either Maryland or West Virginia in the second round and it’s hard to see San Diego State or Virginia as a candidate to take down Alabama in the Sweet 16. Pac-12 tournament champions Arizona sit on the No. 2 line and Baylor is the No. 3 seed. But the Bears have gone 2-4 in their last six games.

Alabama was going to be the story of the NCAA tournament whether or not it was the No. 1 overall seed because of the way it’s handled Brandon Miller’s alleged involvement in the fatal shooting of Jamea Harris by former Alabama player Darius Miles. And the Tide’s status as the top team entering the tournament only heightens that focus. Alabama is more than capable of winning it all. And it’s going to face a lot of scrutiny as it advances.

Marquette soars to a No. 2 seed 

It’s been an incredible season for Shaka Smart and Marquette. The Golden Eagles lost three of their top four scorers from the 2022 team and somehow improved massively. Marquette is 28-6 overall and won both the Big East regular season and tournament titles for the first time. As a result, the Golden Eagles are now a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. It’s the best seed in program history. Point guard Tyler Kolek has blossomed into one of the best players in the country and his efficiency operating out of the pick-and-roll makes Marquette an incredibly tough team to defend. Marquette will face No. 15 Vermont in the East region. It’s the first time Marquette is making back-to-back tournament appearances since 2013.

Mountain West scores four bids

The Mountain West Conference got four teams into the NCAA tournament as Utah State, Boise State and Nevada joined conference tournament San Diego State in the field.

Nevada was the last at-large team into the field and squeezed out teams like Rutgers, Oklahoma State and Vanderbilt in the process. The Wolf Pack have to get past Arizona State in a First Four game to play TCU in the first round. Nevada ranks No. 43 in’s rankings and ahead of the five other teams seeded at No. 11 ahead of the play-in games.

Utah State and Boise State both drew Power Five opponents as No. 10 seeds. The Aggies play Mizzou while Boise State takes on Northwestern. Utah State is in the top 20 at KenPom.

The four bids for the MWC are the same number of bids that the Pac-12 received. While Arizona and UCLA got No. 2 seeds from the committee, the lack of depth in the conference showed with USC getting a No. 10 seed and Arizona State sneaking its way into the play-in. The gap between the MWC and the Pac-12 this season wasn’t all that big.

Kentucky gets a No. 6 seed

Kentucky (21-11) ended up with a top-six seed on Selection Sunday despite an up-and-down season.

It wasn’t going to be surprising at all to see the Wildcats as a No. 7 or No. 8 seed on Sunday after losing to Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament. And while the Commodores missed out on the tournament entirely, UK found itself as one of the top 24 teams in the tournament and ahead of fellow SEC teams Texas A&M and Missouri. Both the Aggies and Tigers finished ahead of the Wildcats in the SEC and the Aggies were also ahead of Kentucky in the NET rankings.

Kentucky also has a manageable path for a deep tournament run — assuming the team plays to its potential. That’s been a big assumption over the course of the season, but with a big man like Oscar Tshiebwe and a talented roster around him, this is a UK team capable of knocking off both Kansas State and Marquette if it plays at its best.

The Big 12's high seeds

Seven of the Big 12’s 10 teams made the NCAA tournament field on Sunday and six of those seven teams are seeded at No. 6 or higher.

Kansas won the regular-season title and got the No. 3 overall seed as the top seed in the West. Texas is a No. 2 seed in the Midwest while Kansas State and Baylor each grabbed No. 3 seeds. TCU and Iowa State are each No. 6 seeds while West Virginia is the only team not in the top half of its region as a No. 9 seed in the South.

The Big 12’s seedings are further proof of how good the conference has been over the course of the 2022-23 season. The Big 12 was the best conference in the country all season long and it’s fair to wonder if Oklahoma State and even Oklahoma and Texas Tech make the tournament if they didn’t have to run through the gauntlet that was the Big 12 this season.

UConn vs. Iona in Albany

We’ve been blessed with an incredibly intriguing Round 1 game in the West region as UConn will take on none other than Rick Pitino’s Iona Gaels in the 4 vs. 13 matchup in beautiful Albany, New York. That’s just a two-hour drive for both fanbases, and you know it’s an opportunity Pitino will relish.

Pitino’s career took a hard left turn following the tumultuous end of his tenure at Louisville. He spent time coaching in Greece before landing at Iona. He’s coached the Gaels to two NCAA tournaments in three seasons and will seemingly be on the move to a bigger job in short order — possibly in the Big East. Pitino has been connected mainly to the vacancy at St. John’s. But before he makes that move, he’ll get a taste of Big East competition in the NCAA tournament.

Men's Losers

Kansas loses out on a trip to Kansas City

The biggest surprise of the bracket reveal might have been Kansas missing out on the Midwest Region. The committee made it clear it liked Houston more than it did the Jayhawks and pushed Kansas to the West Region and gave Houston the top seed in the Midwest.

That’s huge for both teams. The Midwest regional will be played in Kansas City, just 45 minutes from KU’s campus. It would have been a massive home court advantage. Instead, Kansas now goes out to Las Vegas and could play in front of a crowd dominated by Gonzaga and UCLA fans.

Houston lost just three times all season and didn’t have Marcus Sasser in its AAC title game loss to Memphis on Sunday. Kansas, meanwhile, lost by 20 to Texas on Saturday in the Big 12 title game and was beaten soundly by the Longhorns the week before. Were those two losses the difference between Las Vegas and Kansas City? It’s easy to see that they were.

Tennessee draws Duke as a No. 4 seed

Tennessee’s rough finish to the season relegated them to a No. 4 seed on Sunday.

The Volunteers went 5-7 over the final 12 games of the season and lost to Missouri in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament. Tennessee also played the final three games of the season without point guard Zakai Zeigler after he suffered a torn ACL in a win over Arkansas.

It’s easy to envision Tennessee as a No. 3 seed with a healthy Zeigler and he could have made a difference against Mizzou in the SEC tournament. But with Zeigler out for the rest of the season, Tennessee dropped to the No. 4 line and drew a potential matchup with arguably the toughest No. 5 seed in the second round in Duke. The Blue Devils ended the season as ACC tournament champions on a nine-game win streak.

The ACC's milquetoast year

The mediocrity of a conference can really be spelled out when the NCAA tournament bracket is unveiled. Entering Selection Sunday, the ACC had three locks to make the NCAA tournament — Virginia, Miami and Duke. Virginia ended up as the conference’s highest-seeded team as the No. 4 seed in the South while Miami and Duke both ended up as No. 5 seeds, Duke in the East and Miami in the Midwest. Beyond that, it was nothing but bubble teams and teams with no shot whatsoever.

Two of those bubble teams made it in, but barely. NC State came in as an 11 seed while Pitt was one of the last four in. Pitt had a chance to tie for the regular season title on the last day of the season, yet barely made it into the field. North Carolina and Clemson ended up as two of the first four out, meaning the ACC had just five tournament teams for the second consecutive season. Before these last two seasons, the ACC hadn’t had fewer than six teams in the tournament since 2013 when just four made it

North Carolina misses out

Speaking of the ACC, North Carolina remarkably ended up on the outside looking in after opening the season as the No. 1 team in the country. The Tar Heels made an epic run to the national championship last year but fell just short against Kansas. But Hubert Davis’ team could never recapture that magic. UNC’s season was a slog. There was a four-game non-conference losing streak and then a stretch where it lost five of six in ACC play.

The Heels ended up at 19-12 (11-9 ACC) in the regular season before falling to Virginia in the ACC tournament. It just wasn’t good enough to earn an at-large berth. Once UNC’s tournament fate was sealed, the school quickly announced it would not participate in the NIT and its season was over. It was an ugly year in Chapel Hill.

Texas A&M is underseeded

Last season, Texas A&M head coach Buzz Williams was furious that his team did not make it to the NCAA tournament. The Aggies were one of the first four teams left out of the field despite an excellent run in the SEC tournament that culminated in a loss to Tennessee in the final. After his team’s opening-round NIT game, Williams went on an eight-minute rant lamenting the process of the selection committee. This season,

Texas A&M did not have to sweat things out on Selection Sunday. The Aggies, who made another run to the conference tournament championship game, were clearly in the field. But there still ended up being some room for discontent. The Aggies were surprisingly a No. 7 seed when most bracket prognosticators had them as high as a No. 4 or 5 seed. Perhaps the committee had Williams’ 2022 rant in mind when it arranged the bracket.

Penn State drew the Aggies

Any time a team like Texas A&M gets underseeded, there’s another team that has to pay the price with a brutal first-round matchup. This year, it’s Penn State. PSU made an epic run to the Big Ten tournament final and nearly upset Purdue on Sunday. In a matter of weeks, PSU went from the bubble to a sure thing to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. The reward for the Nittany Lions was a brutal draw. As the No. 10 seed in the Midwest, PSU will face Texas A&M in the first round. If PSU can spur the upset, Texas likely awaits. Texas had a legitimate argument to be a No. 1 seed, but ended up on the 2 line. That’s a tough draw for PSU, one of the best outside-shooting teams in the field.

Florida Atlantic is also underseeded

Another team that has a legitimate gripe about its seeding is Florida Atlantic. FAU won Conference USA’s regular season and tournament titles in dominant fashion and enters the NCAA tournament with a sparkling 31-3 record. FAU is all the way up at No. 13 in the NET rankings yet is just a No. 9 seed. The Owls will meet up with Memphis in the first round and would have to go up against mighty Purdue with a win. FAU is currently riding a seven-game winning streak after going on a sizzling 20-game streak earlier this season. This is a team that can compete with anybody.

Rutgers and Oklahoma State left out

Rutgers really struggled over the last month, losing six of its final eight regular season Big Ten games. It looked like RU may sneak into the field when it beat Michigan in the Big Ten tournament, but it just wasn’t enough. The Scarlet Knights, who were the second team out of the field, really struggled once forward Mawot Mag went down with a season-ending knee, and selection committee chair Chris Reynolds referenced Mag’s injury in explaining why RU was left out of the field. Rutgers has a road win over Purdue on its resume, but had just a 2-4 record in Quad 3 games. A late-season collapse at last place Minnesota also hurt RU’s chances.

Oklahoma State, meanwhile, was the first team out according to the official seeding distributed by the NCAA. The Cowboys battled their way through a brutal Big 12 schedule, but were 0-9 against the league’s top four teams and had a 6-12 record vs. Quad 1 opponents. That’s a lot of missed opportunities. Missing out on a bid was a tough pill to swallow for Mike Boynton’s program, especially on the heels of being controversially ineligible to play in the postseason last year.