• NCAA tournament preview: Title favorites to biggest snubs

    NCAA tournament preview: Title favorites to biggest snubs

  • 2017 NCAA tournament: West region preview

    2017 NCAA tournament: West region preview

  • 2017 NCAA tournament bracket revealed

    2017 NCAA tournament bracket revealed

  • USA TODAY sports reporter discusses NCAA tournament

    USA TODAY sports reporter discusses NCAA tournament

  • Media circus: A guide to March Madness

    Media circus: A guide to March Madness

  • John Calipari reacts to NCAA Tournament bracket

    John Calipari reacts to NCAA Tournament bracket

  • Northwestern makes NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history

    Northwestern makes NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history

Congratulations to Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina and Gonzaga for earning No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

But will that mighty four become the Final Four here in Glendale?

Don’t count on it.

Since seeding began in 1979, only once has the Final Four been composed of all No. 1 seeds, in 2008. Not only that, but only four other times did as many as three top seeds make it.

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That means that 33 of the 38 Final Fours since 1979 have had no more than two No. 1 seeds. Three times – 1980, 2006 and 2011 – no top seed made it.

History says that some or all of these shiny seeds are going to find some bumps along the road to Glendale.

Let’s see where those might show up:

RELATED: Arizona is West’s No. 2 seed; Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina, Gonzaga are top seeds

West Region

Gonzaga is a top seed for the second time and, let’s face it, lots of folks will be pulling for the Bulldogs to break through to their first Final Four. If the region goes according to form, the final will pit arguably the two best coaches in the sport who have yet to reach a Final Four in Gonzaga’s Mark Few and Arizona’s Sean Miller. Before that potential matchup, though, Gonzaga needs to watch out for Vanderbilt in a possible second-round affair. The Commodores closed strong, winning eight of their final 11 games, including twice against Florida and on the road at Arkansas to secure their place in history as the first 15-loss team to get an at-large bid. Vanderbilt is scary because of its long-distance shooting (15th nationally in 3s made per game). Surviving that, Gonzaga could run into a Sweet 16 matchup with West Virginia, a handful thanks to pressure defense that earned the nickname “Press Virginia.”

MORE: West region analysis and capsules

Midwest Region

After cruising to a 13th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title, Kansas was upset by TCU in the first round of the conference tournament, showing the peril for a team that goes barely seven deep. The Jayhawks enter March Madness among the favorites to win it all, but with legitimate questions about whether they’ll fade out early again. Still, Kansas has the best geographic path to Glendale, playing in Tulsa, Okla., and then Kansas City, Mo. It would appear the Jayhawks’ biggest challenge would come in a regional final against Oregon, which lost big man Chris Boucher (knee) in the Pac-12 Tournament but is presumably playing with a chip on its shoulder, or Michigan, coming off an inspired Big Ten championship run.

South Region

North Carolina appears to have the tools to get back to the national title game, but it is fair to question whether it can string together enough consecutive strong performances. Watch out for a possible regional semifinal matchup with Butler. Disregard that the Bulldogs are entering on a two-game losing streak – they are 14-4 against teams in the bracket. If the Tar Heels survive that, waiting for them in the final could be UCLA, which has offensive numbers unmatched by any Division I team. The Bruins score 1.202 points per possession and have an effective field-goal percentage – a shooting accuracy measure that adjusts for the value of 3-point field goals – of 60.4. They also have a team assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.90. All of those marks are the best in the nation. UCLA has the best player in the region in guard Lonzo Ball, and his surrounding talent can match that of North Carolina or No. 2-seed Kentucky.

RELATED: Countdown to Arizona’s Final Four

East Region

Defending champion Villanova makes good decisions, executes on the defensive end and has a player-of-the-year-caliber star in Josh Hart. The bench is short, and at some point, the Wildcats will run into teams with more interior size, so they can’t afford a bad day from the arc when that happens. Villanova has three losses this season, and two of them were to Butler. Whom might the Wildcats face in the second round? Wisconsin, another methodical, experienced team that has won its share of big games in recent seasons (just ask UA fans). After that, Florida could provide a test, but the loss of 6-foot-11 center John Egbunu blunts that potential danger. No, the big test for Villanova could be in the regional final, if Duke continues its hot roll – the Blue Devils are steaming into the NCAAs off an ACC Tournament title despite finishing fifth in the regular season.

USA Today Sports contributed to this report.


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