Defending national champion Villanova is the No. 1 overall seed in the 2017 NCAA tournament, a top seed for the third time in school history.

Joining the Wildcats as No. 1 seeds are Kansas, North Carolina and Gonzaga.

Villanova will begin defense of its title in Buffalo against the winner of the play-in game between Mount St. Mary’s and New Orleans on Thursday night. In the second round, either Virginia Tech or Wisconsin awaits.

But lurking down the bracket: Duke is the No. 2 seed in the East.

Kansas is the No. 1 seed in the Midwest and will play in Tulsa, Oklahoma, against the winner of North Carolina Central and UC Davis. Davis is making its first NCAA appearance ever.

The second round in Tulsa could have a matchup of blue bloods with Kansas taking on Michigan State — if the Spartans can get out of the 8-9 game against Miami.

The Jayhawks lost their Big 12 tournament opener to TCU without suspended star Josh Jackson. Kansas missed out on a chance to get revenge on Iowa State in the conference tournament, but might get another crack at the Cyclones in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Cyclones, the fifth seed in the Midwest, beat Kansas in overtime in Lawrence in February and closed the regular season with nine wins out of 10. They’ll have to get past Nevada and possibly Purdue for a trip to the regional semifinals.

Louisville is the No. 2 seed in the Midwest, and Oregon is the 3.

North Carolina takes the top seed in the South. The Tar Heels won the ACC by two games, but were bounced from the conference tournament in the semifinals by Duke. The Tar Heels play Texas Southern in game one, with Arkansas or Seton Hall waiting in the second round in Greenville, South Carolina.

This is a region dripping with blue and championship history.

The second seed is Kentucky and No. 3 is UCLA. Along with North Carolina, those teams have 25 total championships.

Kentucky was still flying when the initial bracket was announced and probably didn’t learn until landing that it was a 2-seed and matched against in-state neighbor and newcomer Northern Kentucky, the No. 15 seed.

The No. 8 Wildcats were heading back to Lexington after beating Arkansas 82-65 for the SEC tournament title on Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee.

Coach John Calipari and players usually head to his house after returning to watch the Selection Show, but weren’t back in time this year to discover they’re headed to Indianapolis — at least, not in front of assembled media stationed in the coach’s living room.

Wichita State, ranked 20th in the nation in the latest Associated Press poll, was given a No. 10 seed in the South.

In the West, Gonzaga is a No. 1 seed for the second time in school history, and it comes with some memories — not all of them good.

Gonzaga will face No. 16 seed South Dakota State on Thursday in Salt Lake City. The other time the Bulldogs received a No. 1 seed was 2013. And they were sent to Salt Lake City. And they were upset in the round of 32 by Wichita State as the Shockers made a run to the Final Four. This time, the Bulldogs could end up facing eighth-seeded Northwestern in the second round.

Northwestern, in the NCAA tournament for the first time, will face Vanderbilt with first-year coach Bryce Drew.

No major conference team had waited as long as Northwestern to get their first NCAA bid.

Arizona is the No. 2 in the West, the first time in 26 years the top two teams in the West Region are actually from the Western part of the United States.

Florida State is the No. 3 seed. An interesting first-round opponent awaits the Seminoles in Orlando: Florida Gulf Coast. Dunk City is back in the NCAAs.

Syracuse, a controversial bubble team that made it to the Final Four last year, was left out this time — its 84 ranking in the RPI and lack of solid road wins dooming its hopes.

Illinois State of the Missouri Valley Conference was left out, as the selection committee again mainly shunned the little guys, giving all four of the final bubble spots to teams from the six biggest conferences.

The Final Four is April 1 and 3 in Phoenix.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.