The NCAA Tournament selection committee revealed its top 16 on Sunday. Keeping with most Bracketology predictions, Virginia is its top overall seed.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 11, 2018
Selection Sunday is a month away and there is still plenty of basketball to be played. Having said that, the seeding preview didn't stop panic from setting in for several schools and their respective fan-bases. With only records and polling to go on up to this point, there were several questionable calls.
Is Purdue a Top Seed?
This past week Purdue lost to Ohio State at home and Michigan State on the road. The Boilermakers are currently third in the Big Ten. Yet somehow they've done enough in the committee's eyes to warrant ranking fourth while the Spartans rank 11 and Ohio State 14.
A better question to ask is why the Boilermakers are seeded higher than both Michigan State and Ohio State?
The Committee’s quadrant system is just more shaky data to organize information for less discerning minds. All of the quad data is based upon RPI. Garbage in, garbage out.
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) February 11, 2018
It's understandable that non-conference schedule must be considered when evaluating tournament placing, but to–what looks like–ignore head-to-head matchups when that is the best indicator on who is the better team is reckless.
To expect the committee to accurately rank 351 schools is not realistic. Michigan State, however–long considered one of the best teams in college basketball–was basically told the best they can do this season is a two-seed. To prioritize algorithms, polling and other statistics off the court over on the court production is foolish.
How Good is Oklahoma ?
There's no denying the talents of Trae Young. Arguably the best player in college basketball this season, he is attempting to become the first player ever to lead the nation in both points and assists.
The question must be asked, however, Is the committee blinded by Young?
Like I said, apparently the committee has omitted a lot of recent basketball #Oklahoma
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) February 11, 2018
Thanks to the NCAA's quadrant system, only two of Oklahoma's eight losses have come outside of quadrant one, a good thing. It's hard to look at the national landscape however, and view the Sooners as a top-16 team. Especially not how they've played recently.
It should give Oklahoma confidence going forward that despite having an atrocious four-week stretch, they are doing well enough to be considered a four-seed.
Who Ends the Year as the Top Seeds?
The current rankings should give all those interested a look at committee's inner-workings. Purdue seems over-valued, but Virginia, Villanova and Xavier seem to be consensus top seeds. In the Big East, the Wildcats and Musketeers will square off on February 17. The loser of that game should not lose any ground in the race for a top-seed. In fact, both Big East representatives seem like the most likely to hold their spots in a month's time.
Although Virginia lost to rival Virginia Tech on Saturday, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't think the Cavaliers are not one of–if not–the best team in college basketball. They have a favorable schedule down the stretch, and barring an epic collapse, should be another top seed.
Purdue is currently fourth. It's simple math. Win and the Boilermakers are in.
Auburn is standing on the doorstep. Should the Tigers win the rest of their games and Purdue slip, it would make sense for the Tigers to fill that spot. Then again, as we've witnessed over and over again, common sense is not the most redeeming attribute of the selection committee.
Every January, Duke suffers an embarrassing loss and we immediately disqualify the Devils from national championship discussion. Like clockwork, every February and March they go on a run and end up as a top-seed candidate. This year is no different. Duke still has games against Clemson and North Carolina in the regular season, will probably play those teams or comparable programs and Virginia in the ACC Tournament championship should they get there. As we've come to realize the committee loves Duke. Do they have enough to make another run?
With only a month left before Selection Sunday, many questions still remain.