March Madness Arrives: 68-Team N.C.A.A. Tournament Field Revealed

March Madness Arrives: 68-Team N.C.A.A. Tournament Field Revealed

March Madness Arrives: 68-Team N.C.A.A. Tournament Field Revealed

March Madness Arrives: 68-Team N.C.A.A. Tournament Field Revealed

“There’s no holy grail,” Barnhart said. “There’s not one metric. Every committee member looks at it through a different prism.”

The conference tournaments were no more orderly. Not only were there scant top seeds wrapping up automatic berths — just 11 of 31 managed a sweep of the regular season and tournament titles — but the committee struggled with where to place Kansas and Virginia when both teams might be missing key contributors, if they can play at all. (Kansas center David McCormack was ruled out of the Big 12 tournament because of the coronavirus three days before the Jayhawks dropped out because another player tested positive.)

As it turned out, they placed both in the West region, which left the possibility of a very clear path to the Final Four for Gonzaga, which is trying to become the first team since Indiana in 1976 to win a championship with a perfect season. The second seed in the West is Iowa, which Gonzaga — coming off a 17-day pause — cruised past in December.

The most stacked region appears to be the Midwest, where Illinois could have to go through Loyola-Chicago or Georgia Tech, and then dangerous Oklahoma State to reach the regional final, where they could see red-hot San Diego State, rugged West Virginia or dynamic Houston.

At least those teams are in, though. For Louisville, the last team left out, it was an especially cruel twist. Rick Pitino, who was fired by Louisville in 2017 amid a federal corruption investigation that could bring N.C.A.A. sanctions, has Iona in the tournament, playing No. 2 seed Alabama. And the head of the selection committee, Barnhart, is the athletic director at Louisville’s rival, Kentucky.

The Cardinals’ only hope for reaching the tournament is to benefit by someone else’s misfortune with the virus.

For now, though, 68 teams are traveling to Indianapolis directly from the site of their conference tournament. If all goes as hoped for the Atlantic Coast Conference champion, Georgia Tech, which left Atlanta on March 4, it may be gone for more than a month.


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