Duke claimed the top overall seed in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, and ACC rivals Virginia and North Carolina joined the Blue Devils in snagging No. 1 seeds on Selection Sunday.
Gonzaga claimed the other No. 1 seed despite falling 60-47 to St. Mary’s in the West Coast Conference tournament final on Tuesday.
Duke (29-5) claimed the ACC tournament title on Saturday against Florida State, after ousting the rival Tar Heels in Friday’s semifinals. Freshman superstar Zion Williamson, back from a knee injury that kept him out of nearly six full games, dominated throughout the tournament to claim MVP honors, giving Duke the last boost needed on its resume for the top overall seed.
“They earned their right to be there,” selection committee chair and Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir said. “With Duke and Zion back — phenomenal run in the ACC tournament.”
The last four teams in were Belmont (26-5), Temple (23-9), Arizona State (22-10) and St. John’s (21-12). Belmont fell to Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament final last week, missing out on an automatic bid, but the Bears’ resume was still enough to get into the field.
“They made the most of the opportunities they had,” Muir said of Belmont. “They had two wins in Quad 1, and we just thought they were a phenomenal basketball team. Very high on the offensive front. Great offensive efficiency. And we thought deserving — they belong in the field.”
Belmont joined six other teams from non-Power 5 conferences to learn at-large bids, the highest total since 2015.
Muir added that St. John’s was the last team in.
NC State left out
The first four teams out were UNC Greensboro (28-6), Alabama (18-15), TCU (20-13) and Indiana (17-15). UNC Greensboro lost in last week’s Southern Conference Tournament final to Wofford.
NC State athletic director Debbie Yow disagreed strongly with the committee’s decision to leave out the 22-11 Wolfpack, issuing a statement that noted the team’s strong standing in various ranking tools.
However, NC State had the weakest nonconference schedule and a 3-9 record against Quadrant 1 teams, the reason Muir cited for omitting the Wolfpack.
Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky claimed the No. 2 seeds. Muir said the Volunteers (29-5) were the top-ranked No. 2 seed despite their 20-point loss to Auburn in the SEC tournament final.
The Big Ten led the way among conferences with eight teams represented. The ACC and SEC each had seven, while the Big 12 had six. In a weak year, the Pac-12 had just three teams reach the tournament, fewer than the American and Big East conferences (four apiece)
The tournament will open with the First Four on Tuesday and Wednesday, with North Carolina Central vs. North Dakota State for a No. 16 seed in the East, Belmont vs. Temple for a No. 11 seed in the East, Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Prairie View for a No. 16 seed in the West, and Arizona State vs. St. John’s for a No. 11 seed in the West.
–Field Level Media