On Sunday afternoon, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee announced the top 16 seeds if the NCAA tournament were to be played today.
No. 1: Villanova
No. 2: Duke
No. 3: Texas Tech
No. 4: Ohio State
No. 1: Virginia (No. 1 overall seed)
No. 2: Cincinnati
No. 3: Michigan State
No. 4: Tennessee (Top No. 4 seed)
No. 1: Xavier
No. 2: Auburn (Top No. 2 seed)
No. 3: Clemson (Top No. 3 seed)
No. 4: Oklahoma
WEST (Los Angeles)
No. 1: Purdue
No. 2: Kansas
No. 3: North Carolina
No. 4: Arizona
Kansas is the No. 6 overall seed as of today, which is clear evidence that the Selection Committee is going to heavily weight the new way of evaluating wins. Kansas has nine Quadrant 1 wins, which is tied with Villanova for the most in the country.
Along those same lines, Michigan State is a No. 3 seed because they have just three Quadrant 1 wins and five Quadrant 2 wins, and combined that is less than the number of Quadrant 1 wins that Kansas has. Throw in a mediocre non-conference SOS and the fact that there really isn’t all that much of a chance for them to improve their profile in the Big Ten, the Spartans are going to be a thorn in the side of some poor No. 1 seed. You don’t want to see them in your region.
One of the most contentious selections here is probably going to end up being Oklahoma — and, to a point, Arizona — as a No. 4 seed over the likes of Rhode Island and Gonzaga. URI and Gonzaga both look like the best teams in their league while Oklahoma has lost three in a row and six of their last eight. But the Sooners play in the Big 12, and thus they have six Quadrant 1 wins. Rhode Island has a great RPI (5) but just a single Quadrant 1 win. Again, those Quadrants and those quality wins are going to be so important.
Frankly, Gonzaga being left out might be more surprising. Mark Few’s club has great predictive metrics and five Quadrant 1 wins, makes their exclusion even more startling. Their RPI is in the middle of the pack, however, and just six of their 23 wins are Quadrant 1 or 2. Such is life in the WCC.
Where teams rank along those top seed lines are going to be really, really important in terms of where they head. Purdue is actually closer to Omaha than Xavier is, but as of today, Xavier is a higher seed as of today. That means that they get preference and the Boilermakers are headed to the other side of the country. What is an easier trip for Purdue fans to make: A drive to Omaha or a flight to LA? That’s significant, especially when you look down at that No. 4 seed in the region. Arizona fans would flood the Staples Center. That’s not exactly ideal playing a team with Deandre Ayton and Allonzo Trier in front of a crowd that will be majority red.
Then there is Auburn. They are the top No. 2 seed, but they were sent to Omaha instead of Atlanta, which is closer to the school, because the top No. 1 seed and the top No. 2 seed cannot be in the same region. It is one of the bracketing principles. As weird as it sounds, Auburn might actually be better off if they drop a few spots in the pecking order.
Villanova fans might as well buy their tickets to the Boston regional at this point. Of all the teams that are top two seeds, they are easily the closest to Bean-town. I can’t see them ending up anywhere else. Get ’em while they’re cheap!