Houston lands No. 1 seed in South Region that also features Marquette, Kentucky and Duke

Houston Secures Top Seed in South Region, Joined by Powerhouses Marquette, Kentucky, and Duke

For the second year running, Houston has clinched the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, the road to their first Final Four since 2021 is not without its challenges. Teams like Duke, Kentucky, and Marquette stand in their way in the South Region.

After a stellar season, the Cougars (30-4) earned their top seed on Sunday. Their journey included clinching the Big 12 regular-season title and making it to the conference tournament final, where they faced a setback against Iowa State. Their first tournament game is against Longwood, the Big South champion, in Memphis, Tennessee, on Thursday.

This marks the third occasion Houston has secured a No. 1 seed in the school’s history. The team’s previous notable achievements include reaching the national championship game in 1983 and making it to the Sweet 16 last season before being eliminated by Miami. Advancing beyond the initial weekend, which includes a potential game against either Nebraska or Texas A&M, would see the Cougars heading to Dallas for the regional.

The Cougars aim to bounce back from a significant loss to the Cyclones in the Big 12 title game. This defeat ended their 11-game winning streak and was a notable moment for a No. 1 team since UCLA’s victory over Houston in the 1968 Final Four.

Houston’s coach, Kelvin Sampson, remains optimistic. Despite the recent loss, he believes the season’s success isn’t overshadowed by a single game. The team plans to regroup, focusing on recovery and preparation for the challenges ahead.

In the South Region, Marquette, the No. 2 seed, anticipates the return of Tyler Kolek, the 2023 Big East player of the year, after an oblique injury sidelined him. The Golden Eagles faced a defeat in the Big East title game against UConn but are hopeful for their upcoming NCAA opener against Western Kentucky in Indianapolis.

Kentucky, as the No. 3 seed, and Duke, rounding out the top four seeds, also have their opening games scheduled. Kentucky will play against No. 14 seed Oakland, while Duke faces No. 13 seed Vermont in Brooklyn, New York.

Marquette’s coach, Shaka Smart, is cautiously optimistic about Kolek’s participation in the NCAA opener. Kolek’s dedication is evident as he returned to training immediately after the team’s return from the Big East title game in New York.

Despite Kolek’s absence in the last six games, Marquette managed a 3-3 record. The team also faces other injury concerns but remains hopeful for a strong performance in the upcoming games.

The South Region is notable for featuring only one team from a power conference that won its conference tournament title, highlighting the competitive nature of this year’s NCAA Tournament.

North Carolina State, after an impressive run to the ACC tournament title, is the No. 11 seed in the region. They face No. 6 seed Texas Tech in Pittsburgh, showcasing the unpredictability and excitement of the tournament.

The tournament also highlights teams with exceptional records, including Houston and James Madison from the South Region. Both teams enter the NCAAs with significant win streaks, setting the stage for an exciting competition.

James Madison, in particular, boasts a strong offensive game, averaging 84.4 points per game. This marks their sixth NCAA appearance and their first since 2013, adding an interesting dynamic to the tournament.

As the NCAA Tournament unfolds, the blend of seasoned teams and underdogs promises to deliver thrilling basketball action, showcasing the best of college basketball.