Applause. It’s almost top 16 selection Saturday.
OK, we need a better name for that. Still, a momentous occasion awaits bogus bracketeers like us. The selection committee met this week and will announce its current top 16 seeds for the NCAA tournament on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
Unlike the ridiculously pointless weekly college football playoff rankings, the committee only does this exercise once, three weeks before convening in the War Room for the actual bracketing and seeding process. And it usually tells us a lot.
Last year, for example, 15 of the committee’s top 16 seeded teams remained there on selection Sunday, while nine teams stayed on the same seeding line. Only one team moved more than one spot between the early revelation and the announcement of the actual field of 68: Texas, which rose from last No. 4 to No. 6.
Of course, every season and committee is different — in 2021, Missouri and Oklahoma each dropped five seed lines from tease to reality — but Saturday will give us key insights into the committee’s mindset on several burning issues. Such as:
“1-2-3-4, tell me you love me more”
We’re pretty confident that Alabama, Houston, Kansas and Purdue will be #1. That’s in alphabetical order and also in our current order, although you can make a Feist-y argument to arrange them however you like.
Of particular interest: how the committee views Houston. The Cougars competed Thursday at No. 1 in every efficiency metric the committee uses, but lacked the high-end wins of the other contenders. True story: Houston was No. 4 on the NET (and seventh in KenPom) on the morning of the 2022 early reveal. The committee noted the lack of any Quad 1 wins and did not include these cougars in their top 16 seeds. Kelvin Sampson’s team is in a much stronger position this year with four Quad 1 wins. But has it done enough to be seeded ahead of Alabama (which it lost to at home in December) or Kansas (national-leading 12 Quad 1 wins)? I can’t wait to find out.
The Big East traffic jam
The biggest drama of the early reveal should happen on line #3, where we’ll likely see Big East teams pop up. But who goes first?
Connecticut has the best metrics and most Quad 1 wins, but Marquette is alone in first place in the league and has a useful blowout win over Baylor on the team list. Creighton is in the top 15 for efficiency metrics but faces nine losses while Xavier hasn’t done much in the non-conference and is struggling with an injury to Zach Freemantle. And then there’s Providence, which once again comfortably beats its NET number (41st on Thursday) while doing most of its best work at home.
We’re going with Marquette at No. 3, UConn and Xavier at No. 4, and Providence and Creighton just outside the top 16. But we’d appreciate the committee’s guidance here.
Best in the West?
Gonzaga has been a No. 1 in the last three early disclosures and has been a No. 1 in all but one year (2018) since the committee began doing so in 2017. The Zags won’t be at number 1 on Saturday, but their name should be appearing… somewhere. Is that a #3 seed? A number 4? And will Mark Few’s team be ahead or behind Saint Mary’s, who beat Gonzaga and have incredible metrics (#6 on the NET) but also some questionable losses? Insert shrug emoji.
There’s also the matter of Pac-12 titans Arizona and UCLA. We’re expecting to see both on the #2 line, but which one gets priority for the western region and a potential second weekend stop in Las Vegas in lieu of a large chunk of frequent flyer miles? Arizona has a huge advantage in quality wins (Tennessee, Indiana, Creighton, San Diego State) and has beaten the Bruins in their only meeting to date at home. UCLA, meanwhile, has better metrics and no losses outside of Quad 1 while the Wildcats are at a disadvantage in Quads 2 and 3.
History teaches us that big wins are more important than anything else, so we think Arizona has the upper hand here. But this body could go its own way.
These are some thorny questions that we wish the committee the best of luck in deciphering. For those who want to make fun of it, we salute you.
Other quick notes:
• This week’s Final Four pairings are South vs. West and Midwest vs. East, based on our seedings, which are below. An asterisk indicates the conference autobid qualifier.
• Our cut line situation is sure to raise some eyebrows this week. Kentucky is back in the First Four thanks to a Quad 1 win in Mississippi State and meets Wisconsin in Dayton. Have these two teams ever played in the NCAA tournament? (sorry…we just passed out for several hours). New Mexico is the last team. The Badgers (77th on the NET) and Lobos (55th) obviously have shaky metrics, but don’t forget how much the Committee loves big away wins. Wisconsin has won in Marquette, in Iowa and in Penn State, and against USC on neutral ground. It’s basically 2022 Rutgers. New Mexico won in Saint Mary’s and in the state of San Diego, two very difficult courses to play. Also, Richard Pitino’s side lost their best player, Jaelen House, in their two recent losses to the Air Force and Wyoming. The committee will take that into account, assuming House recovers from his hamstring injury and the team turns things around.
Bottom Line: We’ll now pull these teams’ victories over the weak resumes of North Carolina and Clemson. Maybe we’re wrong. Hey selection committee, would you mind revealing your final four while you’re at it on Saturday? Am grateful.
• Questions? Annoyances (especially from ACC fans)? Bring them to the comments section and our brilliance will be revealed.
South Region (Louisville)
Eastern Region (New York City)
Midwest (Kansas City)
|First four out||Next four out||Last Four In||The last four byes|
State of Boise
State of Mississippi
Conferences with multiple calls
State of Iowa
State of Kansas
State of San Diego*
State of Michigan
State of Oklahoma
State of Boise
State of Mississippi/New Mexico
State of Kent*
State of Youngstown*
State of Alcorn*/Howard*
Fairleigh Dickinson*/Morehead State*
(Photo by Alabama’s Noah Gurley and Houston’s Reggie Chaney: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via AP)