On Thursday, I explored the debate over whether Gonzaga will get a 1 seed. Later in the day, I put Gonzaga ahead of Duke for that last 1 seed.
Well, we had a thrilling night of hoops last night, and the best game had to be Duke’s 74-73 win over North Carolina. This game was everything we hoped it would be with Zion Williamson participating for Duke. As for seeding implications, I’ve reverted to where I was last Saturday, with Duke as the #2 overall seed and North Carolina as the #5 overall seed. In other words, Duke is back to a 1 and UNC is back to a 2.
The reason is simple: the perception among the Selection Committee is going to be that Duke is the second-best team in the country (if not the best) with Zion in the lineup. Remember, they were the overall top seed in the February 9 Bracket Reveal. The three games they lost after that were twice to UNC and once at Virginia Tech, all without Zion. It is clear that they are a 1 seed with him in the lineup, and while losses without one player or another are still factored in, more weight has traditionally been placed on what a team has done with the players who will be available in the NCAA Tournament.
North Carolina still has a shot at a 1-seed, as they are now behind Kentucky and Gonzaga. The game between Kentucky and Tennessee this afternoon will help to settle that.
Elsewhere, the biggest change was VCU dropping 2 seed lines after their bad loss to Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals yesterday. I wouldn’t usually make such a drastic move this late in the process, but when I looked more carefully at VCU’s resume, it stood out that they only have one win over a team in the field. That is against Temple on a neutral court, and Temple is today’s Last Team In. Not only that, but VCU has three Quadrant 3 losses. I have them on the 10 line for now but don’t be shocked if they are snubbed tomorrow. This historically isn’t a resume that bodes well for an at-large bid.
The other major change is that Alabama has fallen out of the field as a result of the A-10 now up for grabs for a “bid thief.” Quite frankly, I am not at all impressed with the resumes of North Carolina State and Temple, the last two teams in, either. None of the three has any Quadrant 1 road wins – the only other teams in the field who have this dubious distinction are Nevada and Utah State, and no one is debating that those teams are in.
What separates Alabama is that they have had seven chances to get such a win and have come up empty (Temple has had 4, and NC State 5). They also have five losses below Quad 1, while Temple has 3 and NC State has 2. The Tide have also fallen below the historical cutoff for getting an at-large of being at least 4 games above .500, as they now sit at 18-15.
So, with the eve of Selection Sunday upon us, let’s get to the projection. I’ve bolded auto-qualifiers and noted moves up or down since yesterday in parentheses.
Clinched bids since yesterday: Vermont
In since yesterday: Abilene Christian, Davidson
Out since yesterday: Sam Houston State, Alabama
I’ve bolded auto-qualifiers, and noted moves up or down in parentheses following the team’s name.
1s: Virginia, Duke (+1), Kentucky, Gonzaga
2s: North Carolina (-1), Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan
3s: Houston, LSU, Kansas, Texas Tech (+1)
4s: Florida State, Purdue (-1), Wisconsin, Kansas State
5s: Marquette, Villanova, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State
6s: Auburn, Maryland, Buffalo, Iowa State (+1)
7s: Wofford, Cincinnati, Nevada (-1), Louisville
8s: Seton Hall, UCF, Ole Miss (+1), Iowa
9s: Baylor, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Minnesota (+1)
10s: Washington, Utah State, VCU (-2), Florida (+1)
11s: TCU, Ohio State (-1), Arizona State, St. John’s, North Carolina State (+1), Temple (+1)
12s: St. Mary’s, Murray State, Liberty, New Mexico State (+1)
13s: Davidson (new), UC-Irvine, Vermont, Northeastern
14s: Yale, Old Dominion, Georgia State, Northern Kentucky
15s: Montana, Colgate, Bradley, Gardner-Webb
16s: Abilene Christian (new), Texas Southern, Iona, Fairleigh-Dickinson, North Dakota State, Norfolk State
Last Four Byes: VCU, Florida, TCU, Ohio State
Last Four In: Arizona State, St. John’s, North Carolina State, Temple
First Four Out: Belmont, Alabama, Indiana, UNC-Greensboro
Others Considered: Creighton, Furman, Clemson, Lipscomb, Xavier, Memphis, Oregon
Gone Fishin’: These teams no longer have any control over their own fate, and it’s hard to see them getting in with the resumes they have. They are Nebraska, Dayton, and Fresno State.
Enjoy today’s championship games, and look for my final projection before the Selection Show tomorrow. Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!