This will be my first of two bracket updates today. The second will come after the conclusion of tomorrow’s five games, all of which can affect seedings.
I’ll talk about the top line right now, and at some point tomorrow, I’ll address why I did what I did when handling the bubble teams. But addressing the 1 seed line is paramount right now because there was a lot of movement there today.
Let’s start with the good news. Oregon and North Carolina, who were on the two line previously, were phenomenal today. Oregon blasted Utah by 31 points to complete a three game sweep. Meanwhile, North Carolina erased any doubts that I had about ability to play against top teams. They came into the ACC Tournament lacking solid wins against RPI Top 50 teams, but it doesn’t matter so much anymore now that we saw them absolutely whip Notre Dame and then follow-up with a victory over one of the most dominant teams in basketball in Virginia. If they didn’t perform so well, my job would be much easier and they can remain on the two line.
Villanova, once a safe bet to be a one seed, suffered a tough loss to Seton Hall in the Big East finals. The Pirates knocked off previous one seed contender Xavier as well. With the impressive performances by other contenders, today was probably a worst case scenario for them.
This leaves us with a great debate. Here is my take:
#1 overall: Kansas- This is easy. They have been in this position for about a month now, since they haven’t lost since January. They are unstoppable at home but also solid on the road. There is not a single weakness on their resume.
#2: Virginia- In a surprise, I moved Virginia up a spot even after losing today. The loss in a strong performance against UNC doesn’t change the fact that they have the best collection of high-end wins of anybody besides maybe Kansas. They have beaten Villanova, UNC, swept Miami and Louisville, and beat West Virginia and California. They did not win regular season title or conference tournament, but this resume is as good as it gets.
#3: Villanova- They remain a one seed because their unfortunate loss today shouldn’t undo the fact that their regular season performance was one of the best of any team. It is a little concerning though, that their best wins besides Xavier and their two wins over Seton Hall, are against 8/9 seed types like Providence and St. Joseph’s. The 10 road and 4 neutral wins shows that this team will be ready for the tournament conditions.
#4: North Carolina- This is a three spot leap for the ACC regular season and conference tournament champions. They have five wins over RPI Top 50 teams, which is weak compared to one seed competitors. But as I said earlier, their recent dominant performances makes this almost irrelevant, since we know that they have the capability of handling anyone on their best days.
Here is the full list (to be updated next before Selection Sunday)
1 Kansas, Virginia, Villanova, North Carolina
2 Oregon, Michigan St, Oklahoma, West Virginia
3 Xavier, Miami, Texas A&M, Utah
4 Kentucky, Purdue, Indiana, Maryland
5 Iowa St, California, Duke, Arizona
6 Seton Hall, Baylor, Texas, Dayton
7 Notre Dame, Iowa, Wisconsin, Connecticut
8 Colorado, Texas Tech, Oregon St, St. Joseph’s
9 Cincinnati, Wichita St, Providence, Gonzaga
10 VCU, USC, Pittsburgh, St. Mary’s
11 Butler, South Carolina/St. Bonaventure, Valparaiso/Syracuse, Little Rock
12 Yale, Northern Iowa, Hawaii, NC Wilmington
13 South Dakota St, Chattanooga, Stephen F. Austin, Stony Brook
14 Fresno St, Iona, Middle Tennessee, Green Bay
15 Cal St Bakersfield, Buffalo, Weber State, NC Asheville
16 Hampton, Austin Peay, FGCU/Fairleigh Dickinson, Southern/Holy Cross
First five out: San Diego St, Michigan, Vanderbilt, Temple, Monmouth