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March Madness Preview Special, Uh, Preview 2020

In which I share my Top 16 before the Selection Committee shares theirs later today.

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Kansas State
Baylor is the No. 1 overall seed in SB Nation’s projected bracket. But is the Selection Committee thinking in the same way? We’ll find out together this afternoon.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Today, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, better known as the Selection Committee, will share its top four seeds in each region with a few weeks to go before Selection Sunday. This program can now be called a tradition, as it’s entering its fourth season. For the second time in those four years, I was unable to publish a traditional bubble post on the Friday before, due to internet issues. However, those have been corrected, and before my cable and wifi went out on Thursday afternoon, I was able to put together my own Top 16. With the March Madness Preview coming up this afternoon, I wanted to share that with you now, with an adjustment made after Friday night’s biggest game.

Notes:

  • Conference leaders (auto bid holders) are marked with an asterisk (*).
  • The numbers following a team’s name are its NET (as of Saturday, February 8th), its record in all games against D1 opposition, its record in Quad 1 and 2 games, and its record in Quad 1 games only. This data is from WarrenNolan.com‘s NET team sheets.

No. 1s: 1. Baylor* (2/20-1/13-1/7-0), 2. San Diego State* (1/22-0/8-0/4-0), 3. Gonzaga* (3/24-1/7-1/4-1), 4. Kansas (4/18-3/14-3/9-3)

I’m 99.9% sure these will the the four No. 1 seeds, but the Selection Committee’s order will be fascinating. Will they value San Diego State and Gonzaga’s NET rankings? Their combined one-loss? Or will Kansas get the edge for the No. 2 overall seed because of its total of quality wins?

No. 2s: 5. Duke (6/19-3/7-2/4-1), 6. Louisville* (7/20-3/6-3/3-3), 7. Dayton* (5/20-2/7-2/3-2), 8. Maryland* (9/19-4/11-4/7-4)

After Friday night’s win at Illinois, Maryland jumps up to seed line No. 2, replacing West Virginia. However, the Mountaineers, Seton Hall, and Florida State could all end up here and I wouldn’t be surprised.

I am most curious to see how the Committee treats Dayton relative to Gonzaga and San Diego State. Both of the Flyers’ mid-major rivals have multiple Top 30 wins, something UD lacks.

No. 3s: 9. Seton Hall* (13/17-5/12-5/7-4), 10. West Virginia (10/18-4/10-4/4-3), 11. Florida State (14/19-3/9-3/4-2), 12. Oregon* (19/18-5/9-5/6-3)

Oregon is the least likely team to be ranked this high, but the Ducks do have a pair of NET Top 15 wins, including one over Seton Hall on a neutral floor. However. Oregon also has a pair of losses to teams ranked worse than 90th.

No. 4s: 13. Villanova (15/17-5/10-5/6-5), 14. Butler (11/18-5/12-5/8-4), 15. Penn State (20/17-5/10-4/6-3), 16. Creighton (21/16-6/9-6/6-6)

Villanova would have been on the three line had it not dropped its last two. The Wildcats now get the edge over Butler for the top No. 4 seed thanks to a slightly better collection of wins overall (home wins over the Bulldogs and Kansas, both top 15 teams, while Butler’s Wednesday win over Nova is its lone such victory). Penn State jumped into the protected seed group after its win at Michigan State. Creighton got the final spot over Auburn and Michigan State squads that rank higher in the NET, but don’t have quite as many quality wins (six Quad 1 wins for the Jays vs. six combined for the Spartans and Tigers).

Top Seeds By Region

Overall seed numbers are in parentheses. Total regional seeds, for balance, are indicated in parentheses next to the region name.

South (35)

1. Baylor* (1) — St. Louis 1
2. Dayton* (7) — Cleveland 1
3. Florida State (11) — Tampa 1
4. Creighton (16) — Sacramento 2

West (36)

1. San Diego State* (2) — Sacramento 1
2. Maryland* (8) — Greensboro 2
3. Oregon (12) — Spokane 2
4. Butler (14) — Omaha 2

Midwest (32)

1. Gonzaga* (3) — Spokane 1
2. Louisville* (6) — St. Louis 2
3. West Virginia (10) — Cleveland 2
4. Villanova (13) — Albany 2

East (33)

1. Kansas (4) — Omaha 1
2. Duke (5) — Greensboro 1
3. Seton Hall* (9) — Albany 1
4. Penn State (15) — Tampa 2

I’ll share my analysis of the Selection Committee’s picks, which will form the basis of Tuesday’s bracket, later this weekend.

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