2017 NCAA tournament top 16 teams unveiled for the first time

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
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The NCAA tournament men’s basketball selection committee unveiled its first early look at 2017 tournament on Saturday.

In an effort to draw more attention to the NCAA tournament and college basketball’s regular season, for the first time, the committee announced the 16 teams that would be the top four seeds in each region if the 2017 NCAA tournament were to begin today.

Obviously, these teams and seeds will change dramatically over the final month of the season but it is a useful look at how the committee might view certain teams as we move closer to Selection Sunday.

Defending champion Villanova is currently the No. 1 overall seed.

East Region

  1. Villanova (overall No. 1 seed)
  2. Louisville (overall No. 7 seed)
  3. Kentucky (overall No. 12 seed)
  4. UCLA (overall No. 15 seed)

Midwest Region

  1. Kansas (overall No. 2 seed)
  2. Florida State (overall No. 6 seed)
  3. Arizona (overall No. 9 seed)
  4. Duke (overall No. 16 seed)

South Region

  1. Baylor (overall No. 3 seed)
  2. North Carolina (overall No. 5 seed)
  3. Florida (overall No. 11 seed)
  4. Butler (overall No. 13 seed)

West Region

  1. Gonzaga (overall No. 4 seed)
  2. Oregon (overall No. 8 seed)
  3. Virginia (overall No. 10 seed
  4. West Virginia (overall No. 14 seed)

There was hardly surprise with the No. 1 seeds. Gonzaga, Kansas, Villanova and Baylor have earned the right to sit atop their individual regions.

North Carolina and Florida State are the two most interesting teams on the No. 2 seed line, as an outright winner of a league as strong as this year’s ACC will have a very strong argument for being a No. 1 seed. Florida State in particular seems to be the team valued more by the committee than by the polls, as they are currently ranked 14th in the country.

Oregon ended up as the No. 2 seed out west, which means that the committee factored in the injuries that Dillon Brooks has dealt with this season. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the Pac-12 season shakes out, because Arizona, who is currently a No. 3 seed in the Midwest, is sitting all alone in first place in the league standings.

Easily the most exciting region is the East, where No. 2 Louisville and No. 3 Kentucky appear to be on a crash course to meet in the Sweet 16, where they will move on to play the winner of Villanova and No. 4 seed UCLA.

The other interesting team to watch?

Duke, who is the No. 4 seed in the midwest, is on track to face off with Kansas in the Sweet 16. The Blue Devils are finally healthy and playing some of their best basketball of the season right now.

Perhaps the biggest storyline here is the total lack of a Big Ten presence in the top 16. No Wisconsin, no Purdue, no Maryland, a fact that may be all the more surprising considering that the Badgers are currently ranked No. 7 in the polls and that our most recent bracket projection has eight Big Ten teams in the tournament.

This may not be a good sign for the Big Ten teams on the bubble – looking at you, Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan and Northwestern. If the committee doesn’t value the league enough to think that Wisconsin or Purdue deserve a top five seed at this point, how much are they going to value teams at the bottom of the conference whose best wins came against the top of the league?

Still, it’s important to remember that this is hardly a done-deal.

Just because you’re favorite team is a No. 1 seed doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be a No. 1 seed 19 days from now.

On this day one year ago, our bracket projection had Iowa as a No. 1 seed in the West Region while Wisconsin wasn’t even in the field. Both ended up as No. 7 seeds on Selection Sunday. Oregon, who ended up as the actual No. 1 seed out west, was a No. 3 seed, as was Michigan State, who entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 2 seed – a questionable decision – and the overall favorite to win the tournament.