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.
|16||Texas Southern*/New Orleans*|
|7||Oklahoma State||at Orlando|
|1||Gonzaga*||at Salt Lake City|
|6||Notre Dame||at Greenville, S.C.|
|7||Virginia Tech||at Sacramento|
|15||North Dakota State*|
|13||New Mexico State*|
|15||Florida Gulf Coast*|
|16||UC Davis*/Mount St. Mary’s*|
|6||Saint Mary’s||at Salt Lake City|
|7||South Carolina||at Greenville, S.C.|
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)
- Arizona Wildcats
- Florida State Seminoles
- Kansas State Wildcats
- Kentucky Wildcats
- Michigan State Spartans
- Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
- Minnesota Golden Gophers
- North Carolina Tar Heels
- Oregon Ducks
- Seton Hall Pirates
- South Carolina Gamecocks
- Syracuse Orange
- UCLA Bruins
- Villanova Wildcats
- Virginia Tech Hokies
- West Virginia Mountaineers
- Wisconsin Badgers
- Xavier Musketeers