Let the Madness Begin: Previewing the 2022 NCAA Basketball Tournaments

Baylor men, Stanford women look to defend their respective titles as tournaments return to sense of normalcy


Deposit Photos

The NCAA basketball tournaments return to a sense of normalcy for the first time since 2019.

Joshua Panepento

Two years ago, college basketball fans were devastated after the NCAA tournaments were canceled because of COVID-19. With the 2021 season also in jeopardy, it did not look promising for college fans hoping for traditional tournaments.

While there were ultimately tournaments in 2021, they did not feel the same without packed arenas. Instead of the usual four-region format, each tournament played all games in one region because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. The men played at sites near Indianapolis, IN, and the women played in the San Antonio, Texas area.

The most notable difference from traditional tournaments in last year’s was the lack of attendance. There were plenty of exciting, down-to-the-wire games, but they felt wrong without the roaring crowd. The tournaments should have a sense of normalcy for the first time since 2019, as fans will once again pack the stands for the games played in multiple cities.

For the first time since 1978, no schools from Maryland will play in the men’s tournament. However, Maryland and Washington, D.C. are well-represented in the women’s bracket. The University of Maryland is a 4-seed, while Howard University and Mount St. Mary’s University are 16-seeds.

This year, the four top-seeded teams in the men’s bracket are Gonzaga, Arizona, Kansas and Baylor.

Gonzaga, who lost last season’s championship, seems to be the crowd favorite this year. 27.2% of people who played in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge this year chose the Bulldogs to win it all. The team is led by two of the top players in the country, Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren.

Arizona, another team with many star players, has recorded hard-fought wins against other top seeds in the regular season. Under first-year head coach Tommy Lloyd, the Wildcats hope to reach the Final Four for the first time in over 20 years.

The Kansas Jayhawks are no stranger to March Madness success. Led by senior guard Ochai Agbaji, the Jayhawks will try to get back to the Final Four, which they recently reached in 2018.

The defending champion Baylor Bears hope to repeat last year’s success. Baylor lost some of its championship players to the NBA, but it still has the talent to go far again this year.

These number-one teams are geared to make a deep tournament run. However, since 2004, a number one seed has only won the championship three times. While it is enticing to pick the number one seed to capture the title, 60 other teams have the tools necessary to win it all.

This year’s NCAA men’s Final Four will be played at the Caesar’s Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Deposit Photos)

In the women’s bracket, the number one seeds are South Carolina, Stanford, NC State and Louisville.

Although South Carolina lost in the SEC tournament, it is still well-deserving of the number one seed. Boasting multiple big wins over top-ranked teams during the regular season and the number one defense, the Gamecocks are built for a title run.

Winners of last year’s national championship, Stanford has continued its dominance this year. Led by Pac-12 Player of the Year Haley Jones, Stanford carries a 20 game win streak heading into the tournament.

NC State is another team riding a big win streak into the tournament, as the Wolfpack have not lost a game since Feb. 1. NC State has not reached the Elite Eight since 1998, but they have all the pieces needed to change that.

Louisville is a perplexing team entering the tournament. They are in the top-10 in both offense and defense, but two of their four losses this season have come in the last five games. Unlike the other number one-seeds, Louisville is not currently riding a big win streak.

Last season’s women’s championship was decided by just one point, as Stanford eked out a 54-53 win over Arizona. Fans hope that last year’s exciting finish will carry over and provide even more memorable moments over the next few weeks.

The build-up to this year’s March Madness feels different. The anticipation of a typical, fan-filled tournament has been building over the last two years. With more than 80 games on tap combined across the two tournaments through Sunday, fans should sit back, grab some snacks and get ready for the madness.