With the release of the 2016 NCAA Tournament bracket, we've also learned the four No. 1 seeds for this year's edition of March Madness: Kansas, North Carolina, Virginia, and Oregon.
The Jayhawks are the No. 1 seed in the South Region after a typically brilliant year under Bill Self. Kansas played one of the nation's toughest non-conference schedules, losing to Michigan State and beating Kentucky, Vanderbilt, San Diego State, Oregon State and UCLA away from home, and paired that rigor with the achievement of running roughshod in the Big 12 for a 12th regular season conference title. The Jayhawks also won the Big 12 Tournament, and come into March Madness with a 14-game winning streak — with 13 of those victims ranking in the KenPom top 100.
The Virginia Cavaliers' No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region is their second in three years under Tony Bennett, and might help them reach their first Final Four since the days of Ralph Sampson — and their first Elite Eight since 1995. Virginia went unbeaten at home in the 2015-16 season, and only lost to ACC foes and NCAA near-miss George Washington, but the Cavs are likely a No. 1 seed because of back-to-back non-conference wins over Villanova and West Virginia and finishing a game behind North Carolina in the ACC.
Oregon's surprising inclusion as a No. 1 seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament comes after the Ducks rolled through the Pac-12 Tournament, defeating then-NCAA hopeful Washington and completing season sweeps against high-seed locks Arizona and Utah on the way. Dana Altman's team took losses to UNLV and Boise State in non-conference play, but also defeated Baylor and Valparaiso, and has won 14 of its last 16 contests. The No. 1 seed is the first in Oregon's program history.
North Carolina's a No. 1 seed for the first time since 2012, and a strong run at the ACC Tournament, where the Tar Heels knocked off Virginia and annihilated Notre Dame, is likely to thank for that spot in this year's bracket. UNC played a brutal non-conference schedule dotted with good teams, and beat Maryland in the fall, but also lost to Texas and Northern Iowa. After a 4-4 stretch in the midst of ACC play, the Tar Heels righted the ship, and enter the NCAA Tournament on a five-game winning streak.
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