The surprises start at the top of the NCAA tournament bracket: Virginia is a No. 1 seed.

They keep going throughout the matchups. Last year’s national champion, Louisville, was seeded fourth in the Midwest despite playing well enough to be considered a No. 1 by many.

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And speaking of that Midwest region — Wichita State and Michigan are there, as well, making it three of last year’s Final Four participants all vying for one spot this year.

SMU, the team led on a renaissance by coaching lifer Larry Brown — nowhere to be found. And Michigan State, the team that geared things up in time to win the Big Ten tournament, is only a No. 4 seed.

The tournament begins Tuesday with a pair of First Four games, and things get going in earnest Thursday when 32 of the 64 teams in the main draw take to the floor.

As expected, Florida earned the top overall seed and is No. 1 in the South. Undefeated Wichita State is on top in the brutal Midwest and Arizona took top billing in the West despite losing to UCLA in the Pac-12 final.

In the end, the individual matchups mean much more than the numbers by a team’s name. Still, some of the numbers the selection committee came up with this year were head-scratchers — yet another reason Warren Buffet felt perfectly comfortable fronting the insurance money to pay a $1 billion prize to anyone who can fill out a perfect bracket.

I've worked at newspapers since 1985. Mostly in N.J., but with an eight-year pit stop in N.C. I've been at The Press since 1997.

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