Easy as 1, 2, 3: Favorites Dominate the N.C.A.A. Bracket

The best game of the N.C.A.A. tournament so far came Sunday afternoon, when Central Florida challenged no less than Duke.

The Blue Devils tend to be front-runners even in down seasons. along with This kind of is usually no down season: they are the No. 1 overall seed, along with their best player, Zion Williamson, is usually the most favorite college basketball player in years. Yet the Knights, led by their coach’s son (the upsets always seem to be led by the coach’s son), had Duke on the ropes all day. They held the lead as late as the game’s final minute.

Well, Duke won — just as Virginia along with Gonzaga along with Kentucky along with Texas Tech along with every additional No. 1, No. 2 along with No. 3 seed won each of their games Thursday, Friday, Saturday along with Sunday. Duke’s two final baskets were scored by its two star freshmen, Williamson along with R.J. Barrett. Sometimes you can’t fight City Hall.

Such has been the theme of This kind of season’s tournament after its first weekend along with its first two rounds. There is usually a school of thought of which the perfect tournament would likely feature all favorites winning. After all, of which is usually exactly the point of the seeds. nevertheless any casual fan — in fact, especially any casual fan — knows of which the unlikely wins along with the stunning losses lie at the very heart of the N.C.A.A. tournament’s broad appeal.

This kind of is usually only the second time of which the top 12 seeds were all among the 16 regional semifinalists since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985, according to the tournament’s media coordinator, David Worlock. Two No. 4 seeds also remain — again only for the second time.

If you do not trust the selection committee’s seedings, then consider This kind of. Fourteen of the top 15 teams in KenPom.com’s rankings as of last Monday — before the games began — are inside final 16. So are 15 of the top 18.

In an interesting twist, No. 9 seeds along with No. 10 seeds went 7-1 inside first round, when they faced 8th- along with 7th-seeded teams. nevertheless those are upsets only an accountant could love.

Similarly, Oregon’s defeat of Wisconsin inside first round was technically a No. 12-vs.-No. 5 upset, nevertheless the Ducks were coming off a run to the Pacific-12 Conference tournament title, along with several oddsmakers had cast the game a pick ’em.

Only No. 11 Ohio State’s 62-59 win over No. 6 Iowa State along with No. 13 California-Irvine’s 70-64 defeat of No. 4 Kansas State qualified as the kind of classic first-round upset of which aficionados of an unpredictable N.C.A.A. tournament cherish. Both lost inside second round.

One thing This kind of all means is usually of which there will be no out-of-nowhere deep-run team on the order of Gonzaga in 1999, or Virginia Commonwealth in 2011, or Loyola-Chicago last year. Has someone been cleaning the erasers? Because This kind of sure feels chalky in here.

Possibly. nevertheless the last time top seeds made up 14 of the final 16 was 2009, arguably the last year before one-along with-dones came to define college basketball (of which year featured the last N.B.A. draft without a freshman in its top three, for instance).

This kind of could be of which the bracket is usually trending in a more favorite-heavy direction: the tournament two years ago was notably chalky as well. This kind of also could be of which This kind of tendency ebbs along with flows: the only year since 1985 in which all four top seeds made the Final Four was 2008.

In predicting what happens next, then, we could do worse than to look at of which 2009 bracket, which is usually also the only additional one of which had three top seeds via the same conference along with, eerily, also featured among the 16 regional semifinalists the 12 top seeds, two No. 4 seeds, a No. 5 seed along that has a No. 12 seed via the Pacific-12 (then known as the Pacific-10).

In of which year, the four top seeds all advanced to the regional finals. Two made the Final Four, along with one lasted through the national title game.

The top overall seed, Louisville, lost inside regional final to the No. 2 seed in its quadrant: Michigan State. This kind of year, the No. 2 seed inside quadrant of the top overall seed, Duke, is usually: Michigan State.

Those Spartans made the national championship game only to lose to of which last top seed, which had been ranked third overall by the tournament selectors: North Carolina. This kind of year’s equivalent, the No. 1 seed rated third overall on the additional side of the bracket, is usually: North Carolina.

Since then, the Tar Heels have been to two more national championship games. Two years ago, they won one. However, as a reporter reminded Tar Heels Coach Roy Williams on Saturday, his teams had actually gone 3-3 in their previous six second-round games (they are right now 4-3 inside last seven).

Williams replied with an observation of which also could rebut any latent whining of which there are too many highly rated teams in This kind of year’s later rounds.

“Ninety-nine percent of the coaches inside earth would likely take of which,” Williams said.

Plenty of them, he added, “are sitting at home getting ready for their golf game.”