The ides of March have passed, so that must mean it's time once again for the NCAA men's college basketball tournament. A rite of spring so entrenched that students and office workers plan their weeks based on where and when their teams play.
Sixty-eight schools have been plugged into four regional brackets. That means 31 conference tournament winners received automatic bids and 37 at-large teams were selected by the NCAA men's tournament committee, a group made up of 10 university athletic directors and conference officials.
Louisville No. 1 Seed
The committee selected the University of Louisville as the overall No. 1 seed in the men's tournament and the top seed in the Midwest region. The Cardinals won the Big East tournament championship Saturday night in New York City and have won their last 10 games in a row. Thursday in Lexington, Kentucky, Louisville will take on the winner of North Carolina A&T and Liberty, a first-round play-in game Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio.
Following their win over Syracuse in the Big East tournament final, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino predicted his team would be the overall No. 1 in the NCAA tournament.
"I would say probably. It's not a big deal. I would say we're going to be the No. 1 seed of the number ones, but if not, it's no big deal," Pitino told reporters Saturday night.
Duke is the second seed in the Midwest, followed by Michigan State and Saint Louis. The Billikens, champions of the Atlantic 10 conference, are playing for the memory of their former coach, Rick Majerus, who passed away earlier this season.
Gonzaga leads the West
In the West region, Gonzaga, the West Coast conference champion with the best record in the nation at 31-2, is the top seed. The Zags, winners of 14 straight, will play Southern University in the second round on Thursday. Ohio State, the Big Ten conference tournament champion, is the No. 2 seed. New Mexico, the Mountain West tournament winner, is the third seed, followed by Kansas State of the Big 12 conference. The Lobos are coached by Steve Alford, who helped lead Indiana University as a sharp-shooting guard to the 1987 NCAA national championship.
Jayhawks No. 1 in South
The University of Kansas is the No. 1 seed in the South region. The Jayhawks won the Big 12 tournament championship and will face Western Kentucky in the second round Friday. KU could possibly meet Roy Williams, the school's former coach, and North Carolina in the third round. Georgetown is the South's second seed, Florida number three, and Michigan is seeded fourth.
Indian favored in the East
Indiana is the top seed in the East region and will face the winner of LIU-Brooklyn and James Madison Friday. Miami of Florida, which won both the ACC regular season and tournament championships, is seeded second. Marquette and Syracuse, both from the Big East, are the third and fourth seeds, respectively.
Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean was hired in 2008 and only won 28 games in his first three seasons. After the 2013 NCAA field was announced, he reflected on the strides the Indiana program has made.
"To think about where we were 24 months ago, being four or five wins away from even being eligible for the NIT, and to be where we are now with a number one seed is an amazing, amazing accomplishment, for all of the people in this program," Crean told reporters Sunday in Bloomington, Indiana.
The 'First Four' play-in games take place Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Dayton, Ohio. The games will be televised on cable channel truTV, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.