Could we’ve got a 2023 Final Four with none No. 1 seeds?

The 2023 NCAA males’s match has already been a bruising expertise for high seeds.

Kansas performed with out its head coach and was eradicated within the spherical of 32 by Arkansas and Eric Musselman (who promptly celebrated by taking off his shirt).

Houston was down 10 on the half in opposition to Auburn (in Birmingham!) earlier than the Cougars rallied for the win.

And Purdue … effectively, you understand all about Purdue.

What is occurring right here? Is this a change within the sport, random likelihood, seeding error or a little bit of the entire above? Or are all of us overreacting to a few days of basketball? ESPN’s males’s faculty basketball consultants Myron Medcalf, Jeff Borzello and John Gasaway have been watching carefully and pondering deeply. They have some theories. — John Gasaway

What went mistaken with Kansas?

Jeff Borzello: Devo Davis, principally. One Big 12 head coach instructed me earlier than the match that Kansas’ lack of measurement made it inclined on the basket as a result of its incapacity to guard the rim. On paper, Arkansas felt unlikely to check that as a result of the Razorbacks do not have a go-to publish participant. But Arkansas took benefit in different methods. Davis and his teammates had been completely relentless whereas attacking the rim within the second half, driving off the bounce and ending in visitors — particularly after Kansas’ Okay.J. Adams Jr. and Ernest Udeh Jr. had been saddled with foul bother. The Razorbacks additionally grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and had 15 second-chance factors.

Another quote from the aforementioned Big 12 coach struck me on Saturday night time: “Gradey [Dick] and Jalen [Wilson] have to make shots. One of them making them isn’t enough.” Wilson went to work, however Dick had seven factors on 3-for-9 taking pictures. Davis was merely elite at each ends of the ground.

Myron Medcalf: Well, I are inclined to assume it is extra about what went proper with an Arkansas staff that hasn’t performed like this in a constant stretch all season. The Razorbacks — who by no means had any questions on their athletic capabilities — are defending, controlling the offensive glass and making key performs down the stretch in probably the most essential chapter of the season. But Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. fouled out late, and Gradey Dick lastly appeared like a freshman, which put much more strain on Jalen Wilson to do all of it late; and the Jayhawks additionally did not have their head coach.

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Norm Roberts did an excellent job getting this Kansas staff to the second spherical. In these essential moments, nonetheless, Hall of Famer Bill Self wasn’t on the sideline to regular his gamers when Arkansas had them on the ropes. I believe that was a big ingredient in all of this, regardless of what anybody stated about it.

John Gasaway: Where have you ever gone, David McCormack? Arkansas launched 15 makes an attempt from past the arc (and made simply three) but in addition obtained into the inside in opposition to Kansas. That’s the place Eric Musselman’s staff actually obtained the job performed. After permitting the Hogs to seize 15 offensive boards and rating 21 factors on the line, the Jayhawks had been despatched dwelling after simply two video games. Both the fast exit and its nature are a shock. KU’s inside protection in Big 12 play was fairly good, however that was no assist in opposition to Arkansas when it mattered most.

Houston survived. How far can this 1-seed go?

Medcalf: I believe Houston can turn into the primary staff in NCAA historical past to each host and take part within the Final Four and win a nationwide title. (Yes, Butler reached the Final Four in Indianapolis in 2010, however Butler was not the host college.)

For Houston, I simply needed to see if Jamal Shead and Marcus Sasser might play at a excessive stage, regardless that they’re each coping with accidents. Shead had his struggles, however he performed 34 minutes. And Sasser scored 22 factors (7-for-14 taking pictures) in 31 minutes, regardless that he needed to play by means of foul bother.

That’s not the one proof. When wholesome — or most wholesome — this staff has a depth that enhances its probabilities. Tramon Mark (26 factors) reminded all that this staff is greater than Sasser. I do not know if Houston is 100%. But it is shut sufficient to make its nationwide title desires appear tangible. Plus, the Cougars have loads of time to relaxation and prepare for his or her subsequent opponent.

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Borzello: I’d be extra involved about Houston if it did not simply go into Auburn’s dwelling state and beat the Tigers by 17. The Cougars had been terrible within the first half, trailed by 10 on the break, had each Sasser and Shead banged up and in foul bother — and nonetheless beat Auburn in convincing vogue. Kelvin Sampson’s staff nonetheless has an extremely excessive flooring.

The Cougars can flip up the warmth defensively like few different groups within the nation, they crash the offensive glass at a excessive price and so they have so many weapons offensively. Sasser appeared advantageous when he was on the ground, Shead appeared advantageous when he was on the ground, Mark stepped up in an enormous manner — and that is not even mentioning their lottery decide in Jarace Walker. Houston continues to be the favourite to get to the Final Four.

Gasaway: Say this for Houston’s damage worries: Their injured guys are literally enjoying. That’s a deal UCLA (Jaylen Clark) or Tennessee (Zakai Zeigler) would absorb a heartbeat. Come to think about it, the Cougars would not have minded that association themselves one 12 months in the past. Kelvin Sampson’s staff needed to play the 2022 match with out each Sasser and Mark as a result of season-ending accidents. Nevertheless, UH reached the Elite Eight. Something tells me Houston’s ceiling in its current circumstances continues to be fairly excessive.

Alabama can also be coping with accidents. What are the possibilities we might lose a minimum of yet another No. 1 seed earlier than the Final Four?

John Gasaway: The likelihood is a lot better than they have been shortly as a result of we’re already down to simply two high seeds left. We’ve additionally seen each of the remaining No. 1 seeds look beatable within the latest previous. The first half Houston performed in opposition to Auburn left the Cougars trailing by 10 factors (although Sampson’s staff did find yourself successful simply). Alabama appears to have overcome its late-season malaise that included an extra time win at South Carolina and a loss at Texas A&M. We might have a Final Four with no high seed for the primary time since 2011, however proper now, the chances are in opposition to it.

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Myron Medcalf: After watching Arizona, Purdue and Kansas lose, I’m unsure something will shock me. But I additionally consider there are tiers among the many high seeds. Houston and Alabama have performed at a stage above the sector. I’d put Kansas in that group, however the Jayhawks did not have their head coach, which I believe mattered. Purdue confronted questions on its depth all season.

Alabama registered 132 factors per 100 possessions in a 21-point win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, even with Brandon Miller going scoreless in 19 minutes. I believe Alabama and Houston — offered the Cougars can keep as near wholesome as attainable — will likely be powerful to knock off earlier than the Final Four. Nothing is unattainable, however I believe they’re in a unique class.

Jeff Borzello: Alabama and Houston had been the one two 1-seeds I had advancing previous the Sweet 16, so I’ve felt Kansas and Purdue had been susceptible for some time. And I nonetheless assume each the Crimson Tide and the Cougars will discover themselves within the Final Four. It would not be an enormous shock to see one in all them fall, nonetheless.

Houston can have a tough Sweet 16 matchup in opposition to both Miami or Indiana, two groups that may actually rating. And then Texas, which blew out Kansas twice in eight days earlier this month, might await within the Elite Eight. I’m much less involved about Alabama, with 2-seed Arizona already knocked out. But San Diego State goes to current a unique kind of protection than the Crimson Tide have seen in weeks, and neither Baylor nor Creighton could be a pushover within the Elite Eight.

Taking into consideration the previous couple of days, who do you may have going to the Final Four?

Jeff Borzello: I had Alabama, Marquette, Houston and UConn earlier than the match began. After three days of motion, I’ll go together with Alabama, Marquette, Houston and UConn. No wavering over right here!

John Gasaway: I’m using with my unique 4, and so they’re all nonetheless right here! (At this writing.) Give me Houston, UCLA, Marquette and Alabama. Fingers crossed.

Myron Medcalf: Alabama, Marquette, UConn, Xavier