Now that the “First Four” have been decided, it’s on to the road to the Final Four when 2013 NCAA Tournament second and third round matchups get underway, March 21-24. Though accurately filling out a March Madness bracket comes with its challenges every year, the 2012-13 college basketball season has had more than its share of ups and downs, leaving many fans to wonder just who will prevail come tourney time.
In recent years, Cinderella has stuck around long past midnight in the form of Butler and VCU, and if the regular season has been any indication, the Atlantic 10 may just produce the NCAA Tournament’s biggest spoiler in Saint Louis.
A former Cinderella itself, Gonzaga has finally cemented its place in the upper echelon of programs, earning the school’s first-ever No. 1 seed out of the West Region. The rest of the top seeds, however, belong to perennial powerhouses: Louisville (Midwest), Kansas (South), and Indiana (East).
Few conferences were tougher this year than the Big Ten, which had seven teams (Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin) earn NCAA Tournament bids after going nearly the entire regular season with at least three squads ranked in the top 10 in the national polls.
The only conference to garner more postseason bids was the BIG EAST with eight. As most are by now well aware, the league will undergo quite the makeover in the months ahead. Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, and Louisville had already prepared to depart for the ACC, but in a more shocking turn of events, it was revealed last December that the seven remaining Catholic schools – Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova, Seton Hall, Providence, Marquette, and DePaul – would be branching off to start a new conference. They later retained the rights to the BIG EAST name and added Butler, Creighton, and Xavier to bring the grand total to 10 schools, effective next season.
Meanwhile, over on the East Coast, for the first time since 2003, the champion of the ACC did not include Duke or North Carolina, but rather, Miami (FL), and in the SEC, defending national champion, Kentucky, was denied the opportunity to try and claim its second straight national title. Instead, it’s up to regular-season victor, Florida, SEC Tournament champ, Ole Miss, or league newcomer, Missouri, to represent the conference this year.
The “BCS schools” may hog all the headlines, but don’t count out the “mid-majors” who just may have enough momentum to once again steal the spotlight. Whatever happens, it’s guaranteed to be one entertaining ride, so reserve your place today with NCAA Tournament tickets and Final Four tickets on sale now at Vivid Seats.
NCAA Tournament Second and Third Rounds
NCAA Tournament Austin Tickets | Frank Erwin Center – March 22-24
Matchups: Miami (FL) vs. Pacific, Colorado vs. Illinois, Florida vs. Northwestern State, Minnesota vs. UCLA
NCAA Tournament Dayton Tickets | UD Arena – March 22-24
Matchups: Temple vs. NC State, Indiana vs. James Madison, Ohio State vs. Iona, Iowa State vs. Notre Dame
NCAA Tournament Detroit Tickets | Palace of Auburn Hills – March 21-23
Matchups: Michigan State vs. Valparaiso, Memphis vs. Saint Mary’s, VCU vs. Akron, Michigan vs. South Dakota State
NCAA Tournament Kansas City Tickets | Sprint Center – March 22-24
Matchups: Kansas State vs. La Salle, Ole Miss vs. Wisconsin, Villanova vs. North Carolina, Kansas vs. Western Kentucky
NCAA Tournament Lexington Tickets | Rupp Arena – March 21-23
Matchups: Butler vs. Bucknell, Marquette vs. Davidson, Louisville vs. North Carolina A&T, Missouri vs. Colorado State
NCAA Tournament Philadelphia Tickets | Wells Fargo Center – March 22-24
Matchups: Duke vs. Albany, Creighton vs. Cincinnati, Georgetown vs. Florida Gulf Coast, Oklahoma vs. San Diego State
NCAA Tournament Salt Lake City Tickets | EnergySolutions Arena – March 21-23
Matchups: Gonzaga vs. Southern, Wichita State vs. Pittsburgh, Arizona vs. Belmont, New Mexico vs. Harvard
NCAA Tournament San Jose Tickets | HP Pavilion at San Jose – March 21-23
Matchups: Saint Louis vs. New Mexico State, Oregon vs. Oklahoma State, California vs. UNLV, Montana vs. Syracuse
NCAA Tournament Regionals
NCAA East Regional Tickets | Washington, D.C. – Verizon Center | March 28-30
NCAA Midwest Regional Tickets | Indianapolis – Lucas Oil Stadium | March 29-31
NCAA South Regional Tickets | Arlington – Cowboys Stadium | March 29-31
NCAA West Regional Tickets | Los Angeles – Staples Center | March 28-30
Atlanta – Georgia Dome
Final Four Tickets | April 6
National Championship | April 8