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Stan Becton | | September 20, 2021

First preseason 2022 March Madness bracket predictions from Andy Katz

First preseason 2022 March Madness bracket predictions by Andy Katz

Men's college basketball returns in less than two months and it's never too soon for bracket predictions for the 2022 NCAA men's basketball tournament field. The season begins Nov. 9 and basketball expert Andy Katz has released his first projected bracket for March Madness.  

Here are his top 10 teams in his overall seed list:

  1. UCLA
  2. Gonzaga
  3. Texas
  4. Purdue
  5. Kansas
  6. Michigan
  7. Villanova
  8. Illinois
  9. Ohio State
  10. Kentucky

Let’s take a look at the rest of Katz’s preseason March Madness field:

Andy Katz's preseason 2022 NCAA tournament bracket predictions
Seed West Midwest South East
1 UCLA Gonzaga Texas Purdue
16 Norfolk State / Texas Southern Weber State Navy Hartford / Bryant
8 Texas Tech Mississippi State Xavier St. Bonaventure
9 Auburn Rutgers Arkansas Oklahoma State
5 Syracuse Indiana Baylor Duke
12 Iona Cleveland State Belmont Loyola Chicago
4 Maryland Virginia Memphis Houston
13 Toledo Liberty Old Dominion Oral Roberts
6 North Carolina Florida State UConn West Virginia
11 Wichita State / Colorado State Colorado Iowa / BYU VCU
Alabama Ohio State Oregon Kentucky
14 UCSB Wofford Grand Canyon Yale
7 Southern California LSU Florida Michigan State
10  St. John's San Diego State Oklahoma Tennessee
2 Illinois Kansas Michigan Villanova
15 Abilene Christian Texas State James Madison Winthrop

Now, let's take a closer look at the bracket.

UCLA, Gonzaga, Texas and Purdue are Katz's No. 1 seeds

Katz's initial group of No. 1 seeds show consistency with his projections through the offseason. 

UCLA takes the top spot after making a surprise First Four to Final Four run in 2021. Katz has been high on the Bruins ever since breakout March Madness star Johnny Juzang announced his return.

Gonzaga enters the season as the second overall team in the field of 68 after falling short in last year's national championship game. Player of the Year candidate Drew Timme is back, along with West Coast Conference Sixth Man of the Year Andrew Nembhard. They'll be joined by one of the nation's top freshmen, Chet Holmgren.

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Texas gets a No. 1 seed after an offseason full of movement. The Longhorns hired head coach Chris Beard away from in-state conference rival Texas Tech. They also acquired a slew of transfers, including guard Marcus Carr from Minnesota. These changes at Texas have the Longhorns primed for success in 2021-22.

Purdue gets the final top seed as Katz projects the Boilermakers to win the Big Ten. Trevion Williams and Jaden Ivey highlight one of the nation's best teams in arguably the nation's best conference. 

Storied programs set to bounce back

After a disappointing year from some of college basketball's most storied programs, Katz foresees a bounce-back year for a few familiar names. We've already discussed UCLA, but Kentucky, Duke, and Indiana are all projected to make the 2022 NCAA tournament after missing the field last season. 

Kentucky received a No. 3 seed in Katz's bracket and landed as the 10th team in the field of 68. In 2021, the Wildcats missed the tournament for the first time since 2013. With new transfers and highly-touted freshmen, Kentucky will look to get back to its winning ways.

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Duke enters 2022 looking to send out legendary college basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski on a high note. After missing the tournament for the first time since 1995, the freshmen-laden Blue Devils are a No. 5 seed in this preseason bracket. 

Indiana last made the tournament in 2016. The Hoosiers will enter 2021 with a new head coach in Mike Woodson and new expectations for the season. Projected as a No. 5 seed and 20th overall on the seed list, the Hoosiers might finally be able to turn things around. It doesn't hurt that the Hoosier have star Trayce Jackson-Davis coming back either.

New coaches poised for success

There are eight teams in Katz's first preseason bracket that have new head coaches. No. 1 seed Texas is joined by Indiana, North Carolina, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Loyola Chicago, Abilene Christian and Winthrop as teams projected to make the 2022 NCAA tournament with a new head coach.

The premier coaching replacement in 2022 is North Carolina's Hubert Davis taking over for Basketball-Hall-of-Famer Roy Williams. In Davis' first stint as a head coach, Katz sees the Tar Heels as a No. 6 seed with the talent to make a deep tournament run.

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Elsewhere, multiple-time tournament Cinderella Loyola Chicago will have a new coach at the helm. With Porter Moser leaving to fill the vacancy at Oklahoma, Drew Valentine steps in after four years as an assistant coach for the Ramblers. At 29 years old, Valentine is the youngest head coach in Division I men's basketball. Despite Valentine's youth, Katz believes Loyola Chicago's veteran team can return to the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season.

The Big Ten may be the nation's best conference

The Big Ten leads all conferences with nine teams in Katz's first bracket, matching the conference's total number of teams from the 2021 NCAA tournament. Of course, in 2022 March Madness, the Big Ten would like an all-around better performance after just one team advanced to the Sweet 16 last year.

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Luckily, the Big Ten should be loaded with talent in 2022. Six Big Ten teams are in the top 20 of Katz's field of 68. Purdue received a No. 1 seed, while both Michigan and Illinois each got No. 2 seeds. Third-seeded Ohio State rounded out the top 10 teams at No. 9 overall. With great in-conference depth, the Big Ten should be battle-tested entering the 2022 NCAA tournament.

Conferences with multiple teams in Katz's preseason bracket
ConFerence Total Teams Teams (Automatic Qualifier in bold)
Big Ten 9 Purdue, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio State, Maryland,
Indiana, Michigan State, Rutgers, Iowa
SEC 8 Kentucky, Alabama, LSU, Florida, Mississippi State,
Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee
Big 12 7 Texas, Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech,
Oklahoma State, Oklahoma
ACC 5 Virginia, Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina, Florida State
Pac-12 4 UCLA, Oregon, Southern California, Colorado
Big East 4 Villanova, UConn, Xavier, St. John's
American Athletic 4 Memphis, Houston, Wichita State
Atlantic 10 2 St. Bonaventure, VCU
Mountain West 2 San Diego State, Colorado State
West Coast 2 Gonzaga, BYU

4 more top storylines

Here are a few additional notables from Katz's preseason bracket:

  • No. 4 seed Memphis: Highly-touted freshmen Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren bring high expectations for the Tigers.
  • No. 5 seed Baylor: The reigning national champions have added Arizona transfer James Akinjo to help keep pace..
  • No. 13 seed Oral Roberts: Cinderella of the 2021 tournament should return in 2022 with high-powered scorer Max Abmas in tow.
  • No. 14 seed Yale: After the Ivy League didn't participate in athletics for a year, the Bulldogs are back.

Who's left just outside the field, right now

Katz went beyond the field of 68 to make some predictions on the teams that just miss the cut, as of now.

Last four in:

  1. Wichita State
  2. Colorado State
  3. Iowa
  4. BYU

First four out:

  1. Washington State
  2. Seton Hall
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Boise State

16 more teams for consideration:

  1. Creighton
  2. Providence
  3. Butler
  4. Oregon State
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. Georgia Tech
  7. Louisville
  8. Richmond
  9. Loyola Marymount
  10. Nevada
  11. SMU
  12. Saint Louis 
  13. St. Mary's (CA)
  14. Nebraska
  15. UCF
  16. Arizona

Andy Katz's field of 68

Here is Katz’s full seed list in order, 1-68:

1 UCLA 1
2 Gonzaga 1
3 Texas 1
4 Purdue 1
5 Kansas 2
6 Michigan 2
7 Villanova 2
8 Illinois 2
9 Ohio State 3
10 Kentucky 3
11 Alabama 3
12 Oregon 3
13 Memphis 4
14 Maryland 4
15 Houston 4
16 Virginia 4
17 Baylor 5
18 Syracuse 5
19 Duke 5
20 Indiana 5
21 North Carolina 6
22 West Virginia 6
23 Florida State 6
24 UConn 6
25 Southern California 7
26 LSU 7
27 Florida 7
28 Michigan State 7
29 St. Bonaventure 8
30 Xavier 8
31 Mississippi State 8
32 Texas Tech 8
33 Oklahoma State 9
34 Arkansas 9
35 Auburn 9
36 Rutgers 9
37 St. John's 10
38 Tennessee 10
39 San Diego State 10
40 Oklahoma 10
41 Colorado 11
42 VCU 11
43 Wichita State 11
44 Colorado State 11
45 Iowa 12
46 BYU 12
47 Loyola Chicago 12
48 Belmont 12
49 Iona 12
50 Cleveland State 12
51 Oral Roberts 13
52 Old Dominion 13
53 Toledo 13
54 Liberty 13
55 Yale 14
56 Grand Canyon 14
57 UCSB 14
58 Wofford 14
59 James Madison 15
60 Texas State 15
61 Abilene Christian 15
62 Winthrop 15
63 Weber State 16
64 Navy 16
65 Hartford 16
66 Bryant 16
67 Norfolk State 16
68 Texas Southern 16

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