Bracketology: Big 12 leads way with four teams in NCAA selection committee's early official top 16 seeds

Bracketology: Big 12 leads way with four teams in NCAA selection committee’s early official top 16 seeds

We have a new bracket Saturday, but I cannot take full responsibility for it. NCAA selection committee chairman Tom Burnett, the commissioner of the Southland Conference, shared the official top 16 seeds at this point of the season with us for the NCAA March Madness Men’s Bracket Preview on CBS and that top 16 is reflected in the updated Bracketology.

With four teams in the top 16, the Big 12 is well represented, as you would expect of the top rated conference. Kansas and Baylor have ridden very strong schedules to the overall No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, respectively. Texas Tech has three wins over those two schools and checks in as a No. 3 seeds. Texas got the last spot in the top 16 to give the conference a quarter of the top 16.

The SEC and Big Ten each have three teams in the bracket reveal. Auburn is the No. Kentucky is currently No. 2 overall seed and while 6, the Wildcats’ win over Kansas could end up being a decisive factor between those two at some point. Baylor is providing a cushion between the two at the moment.

Purdue leads the Big Ten contingent as the No. 7 overall seed, while Illinois and Wisconsin are right next to each other, but with a seed line in between.

NCAA official early top 16 seeds

Check out Palm’s latest bracket, full field of 68 and all the teams on the bubble on the Bracketology hub.

The committee also told us that the three teams that came closest to cracking the top 16, but falling just short, were Alabama, Ohio State and Houston. Therefore, I have those three leading the No. 5 seed-line in the updated bracket projection.

Providence, one of the teams with the biggest disparity between quality of resume and MOV-based metric ratings, checks in as a No. 4 seeds. Villanova, which won at Providence this week, is ahead of the Friars as a No. 3 seeds. COVID-19 canceled three Providence games against quality opposition. Those lost opportunities may end up limiting how high the Friars can climb in this bracket.

Villanova was ninth overall seed, right behind Duke. I would have expected the Wildcats to be the higher seed due to a higher number of quality wins and significantly better losses, albeit more of them. However, Burnett pointed out that the wins over Gonzaga and Kentucky helped carry the day for the Blue Devils.

Houston also has a large disparity between its NET ranking (No. 4) and seed (a No. 5 seed), but going the other direction. A lack of quality wins is currently holding the Cougars down in terms of seeding.

Head-to-head turned out to be a big factor, but only in certain circumstances. If teams were next to each other on the seed list and played each other, then head-to-head ended up being a deciding factor. It is why Texas Tech was ahead of Tennessee for the No. 10 spot, and Illinois beat out Wisconsin for the last three-seed. However, since Kentucky had Baylor between itself and Kansas, head-to-head did not come into play.

In my part of the bracket (No. 5 seeds and lower), there are six more Big Ten teams, creating a total of nine. That number is probably not sustainable. Four of those teams are among the last seven teams in the at-large pool and two are in First Four games. Those teams have not been good enough to have all four of them stay in the bracket.

And as always, the bracket the committee shared and that I expanded is already changing. There are three weeks left. That’s a lot of basketball left to be played in the 22 days before Selection Sunday on March 13

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