2019 NCAA Tournament Top 16: Predicting The Committee’s Early Seeding

2019 NCAA Tournament Top 16: Predicting The Committee’s Early Seeding article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jordan Bone and Jordan Poole

  • The NCAA Selection Committee will release its top 16 seeds for the NCAA Tournament, if the season ended on Saturday.
  • While there's still plenty of time for other teams to work their way in, it's important to note that only three teams not seeded in the top 16 have won the NCAA Tournament since 1985.

One of the most exciting non-event events of the college basketball season happens this afternoon, when CBS will televise its third annual Bracket Preview Show at 12:30 p.m. ET.

This year’s NCAA Selection Committee will reveal who the top four seeds in each region would be if the NCAA Tournament started immediately. It is a chance for college basketball fans to see inside the mind of the seeding committee and allows teams to know where they stand given their current body of work.

Why does this matter? Well, earning a No. 4 seed or better in the NCAA Tournament greatly increases a team’s chance of winning the national title.

Here is my prediction on how the committee will rank the top 16 on Saturday.

No. 1 Seeds 

South: Tennessee Volunteers
East: Duke Blue Devils
Midwest: Virginia Cavaliers
West: Gonzaga Bulldogs

Rationale: This will be the least dramatic part of the show. All four seeds are locked into the top line and to their regions.

The only team that could also make a claim to a No. 1 seed is Kentucky, since the Wildcats are 19-3 and have six Quadrant I wins. Big Blue Nation will claim they deserve the nod over Gonzaga.

However, the Bulldogs have four Quadrant I wins and a mammoth win over Duke without starting forward Killian Tillie. That win, combined with Kentucky’s inexplicable loss at Seton Hall, will give Gonzaga the top seed in the West.

No. 2 Seeds 

South: Michigan Wolverines
East: Michigan State Spartans
Midwest: Kentucky Wildcats
West: North Carolina Tar Heels

Rationale: Kentucky and Michigan are both locked in as No. 2 seeds. The committee tries to avoid putting two teams from the same conference in the same region, so Michigan heads to the South with Tennessee. Michigan State grabs a No. 2 seed despite their current three-game losing streak because of their body of work.

The Spartans 13-game winning streak earlier this year and eight Quadrant I wins keep them afloat. North Carolina has five Quadrant I wins and six in Quadrant II.

Kansas would have absolutely been a No. 2 seed had it won earlier this week at Kansas State. The Jayhawks have eight Quadrant I wins, but because of their 17-6 overall record (6-4 in conference), the Tar Heels grab that last No. 2 seed.

No. 3 Seeds 

UPDATE: We’ve moved Louisville to the East because it was correctly pointed out that the Cardinals cannot play on their home floor during regionals.

South: Houston Cougars
East: Louisville Cardinals
Midwest: Kansas Jayhawks
West: Purdue Boilermakers

Rationale:  With the best overall non-conference strength of schedule, the Jayhawks earn the top No. 3 seed and are rewarded with the Midwest Region.

Purdue has won 10 of its last 11 games, with 10 Quadrant I/II wins, and the second best overall strength of schedule. The Boilermakers head to the West Region to avoid Michigan State in the East.

No. 4 Seeds 

South: Marquette Golden Eagles
East: Villanova Wildcats
Midwest: Wisconsin Badgers
West: LSU Tigers

Rationale: Marquette drops to a No. 4 seed after this week’s home loss to St. John’s. Villanova has won 11 games in a row and has solid strength of schedule numbers both in and out of conference.

Wisconsin’s 11 Quadrant I/II wins and 23rd overall strength of schedule earn place it in the Midwest region.

The most important game this week was LSU-Mississippi State battle, since it vaulted the Tigers to 18-4 and 8-1 in the SEC. Combined with its 10 Quadrant I/II wins, LSU grabs the last No. 4 seed.

Honorable Mention 

Iowa State Cyclones: Iowa State has best argument of the teams not ranked. It boasts an 18-5 record with four Quadrant I wins, including Kansas. However, with only seven total Quadrant I/II wins and a non-conference strength of schedule of 118th, the Cyclones just miss the top 16.

Nevada Wolf Pack: The most compelling storyline on Saturday is whether or not the committee will give Nevada a top-four seed. Given the Bracket Preview Show history,  the answer is no. The Wolf Pack do not have a single Quadrant I win. With an overall strength of schedule of 99th, the only argument for Nevada is the eye test and last year’s Sweet 16 run.

Texas Tech Red Raiders: With a solid 18-5 record, the Red Raiders deserve consideration. However, with only a 3-5 record against Quadrant I opponents and a 178th non-conference strength of schedule, Texas Tech falls just short of the top 16 seeds.

Virginia Tech Hokies: The Hokies are an impressive 18-4 overall but just 3-3 against Quadrant I teams. The home loss to Louisville was a missed opportunity. Their 281st non-conference strength of schedule will also be a major obstacle to a top 16 seed on Saturday.