Bracket Watch: The selection committee is sure to bring controversy

On Saturday, the actual selection committee will unveil its first-ever in-season top-16 rankings. Whatever they announce is sure to be met with controversy, especially if, as I expect, several teams are ranked noticeably higher or lower than they are in the regular polls due to the committee’s resume-based approach.

Here are a few candidates (using the AP rankings).

No. 7 Wisconsin. Everybody loves Ethan Happ and the 21-3 Badgers, but they own just two wins over RPI top-50 foes, Minnesota and bubble team Tennessee. I have them as a five seed; I’d be surprised if they’re much higher than No. 16.

No. 10 UCLA. Even with their exciting comeback win Thursday night over Oregon, the 22-3 Bruins own just three wins over at-large-caliber teams (Kentucky and Michigan are the others). They’re on similar ground as Wisconsin.

No. 14 Florida State. The respect level out there for the 21-4 ‘Noles does not nearly match their impressive resume — 8-1 vs. top 50, no sub-100 losses. They should be in the top half of the committee’s top 16.

No. 22 Butler. The 19-5 Bulldogs have a lot of big wins (Villanova, Arizona, Cincinnati and Xavier) but also some bad losses (St. John’s and Indiana State). There are enough of the former to merit being on a top-four seed line.

Tune in Saturday at 12:30 ET to see if I’m right about any or all of these. (UPDATE: Here is the committee’s top 16. No. 1 seeds — Villanova, Kansas, Baylor, Gonzaga. No. 2 seeds — North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville, Oregon. No. 3 seeds — Arizona, Virginia, Florida, Kentucky. No. 4 seeds — Butler, West Virginia, UCLA, Duke. Only differences from our bracket below: We had West Virginia (a No. 4 seed in the committee’s eyes) as a No. 3 seed, Purdue (not in the committee’s top 16) as a 4, and Florida (a No. 3 for the committee) as a 5-seed.)

A reminder: Selection Sunday is March 12, and the tourney begins March 14. The Final Four is April 1-3 in Phoenix.

* — Denotes projected conference champion, automatic berth

This edition’s bracket is East vs. West champions and Midwest vs. South champions in the national semifinals, based on the order of my No. 1 seeds.


Seed Team Location
1 Villanova* at Buffalo
16 Texas Southern*/New Orleans*
8 Northwestern
4 UCLA at Sacramento
13 Princeton*
5 Florida*
12 Vermont*
6 Maryland at Buffalo
11 Seton Hall/Clemson
3 West Virginia
14 Monmouth*
7 Oklahoma State at Orlando
10 Indiana
2 Florida State
15 UNC Asheville*
Seed Team Location
1 Gonzaga* at Salt Lake City
16 Weber State*
8 Iowa State
9 Michigan State
4 Duke at Orlando
13 Nevada*
5 Creighton
12 Belmont*
6 Notre Dame at Greenville, S.C.
11 Wichita State*
3 Virginia
14 Akron*
7 Virginia Tech at Sacramento
10 Tennessee
2 Oregon
15 North Dakota State*
Seed Team Location
1 Kansas* at Tulsa
16 NC Central*
9 Dayton*
4 Butler at Milwaukee
13 New Mexico State*
5 Wisconsin*
12 UNC Wilmington*
6 Xavier at Indianapolis
11 Syracuse/Kansas State
3 Kentucky
14 Valparaiso*
7 Minnesota at Indianapolis
10 Miami
2 Louisville
15 Florida Gulf Coast*
Seed Team Location
1 Baylor at Tulsa
16 UC Davis*/Mount St. Mary’s*
9 Marquette
4 Purdue at Milwaukee
13 Bucknell*
5 Cincinnati*
12 Middle Tennessee*
6 Saint Mary’s at Salt Lake City
11 Michigan
3 Arizona*
14 Furman*
7 South Carolina at Greenville, S.C.
10 TCU
2 North Carolina*
15 Arkansas State*

LAST FOUR IN: Clemson, Kansas State, Seton Hall, Syracuse

FIRST FOUR OUT: Wake Forest, Cal, Arkansas, Illinois State

NEXT FOUR OUT: Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Texas Tech, Providence

MULTIPLE BID CONFERENCES: ACC (10), Big Ten (8), Big 12 (7), Big East (6), SEC (4), Pac-12 (4), A-10 (2), American (2), WCC (2)