The NCAA Tournament Committee released an early reveal of how it would seed the teams based on the current results. A few things stood out in the early release. It yet again confirmed–despite a meeting that talked about making changes for the future–that the selection committee heavily relies on the RPI. West Virginia, for example, has wins over Baylor, Kansas, and Virginia, but also had the lowest RPI of the top teams, and found themselves as a 4-seed while Kansas and Baylor are 1-seeds.
Meanwhile, it was also notable for what was not there–any Big Ten teams on the top 4 seed lines. Wisconsin had risen to #7 in last week’s AP poll and #5 in the Coaches poll, while Purdue was at #16 in the AP. But Wisconsin’s RPI is around #16, and they don’t have any top level wins (since other Big Ten teams aren’t considered top level), and appeared outside the top 16. Then, they went out and lost to Northwestern at home on Sunday.
With a month to go, it’s hard to project teams other than those in the NCAA’s early reveal to be at the top. The ACC teams will continue to play each other and rack up the top wins. The top teams in the Pac-12 are way head of the others in the conference, and the committee liked what they saw. The Big 12 teams have lots of top wins.
It’s hard to project the Big Ten to get anything higher than the last 4 seed, since they play each other and the committee is not impressed. Five different teams, though, fall in this range. Also, the American Conference has two teams that are going to put up gaudy records in Cincinnati and SMU but are limited by the same philosophy–they won’t have the top level wins.
The Selection Committee will make exceptions for teams with RPI’s below 50 if they have multiple Top 50 wins. Expect Syracuse to overcome a poor RPI by surging with ACC wins. Michigan State played a tough schedule and looks to make it. The four teams currently projected for the Dayton games are California versus Virginia Tech (who moved in with the win over Virginia), and Arkansas versus Seton Hall.
Houston has a huge game against SMU at home on Saturday. That is their last great chance to impress the committee (other than a road game at Cincinnati) before the conference tourney. Houston will have the RPI to put them in range, but lacks a signature win. The result of that one likely swings their chances at the bubble.
Oh, and Indiana is out now. The Hoosiers have the two best non-conference wins for the Big Ten teams but simply do not look the same, and lost again to Michigan, prompting Ryan Phillips to say it’s time to look at Billy Donovan and try to woo him back to college.