Welcome to the week of Selection Sunday! Some teams already know they’re locks for March Madness, while others rely on this week to play their way in. Four teams have punched their tickets, so let’s see who else should complete the field:
1 2 3 4
Virginia Duke LSU Kansas
Gonzaga Kentucky Michigan Florida State
UNC Texas Tech Houston Nevada
Tennessee Michigan State Purdue Kansas State
5 6 7 8
V Tech Cincinnati Wofford VCU
Buffalo Villanova Louisville UCF
Auburn Maryland Miss State Baylor
Wisconsin Marquette Iowa State Washington
9 10 11 12
Utah State Syracuse Seton Hall Belmont
Ole Miss Temple NC State New Mexico State
Oklahoma Arizona State Minnesota Clemson / Georgetown
Iowa St. John’s Murray State TCU / UNC Greensboro
13 14 15 16
Hofstra Georgia State Montana Norfolk State
UC Irvine Old Dominion Sam Houston State Gardner-Webb
Yale Bucknell Liberty Bradley / PV A&M
Vermont No. Kentucky Omaha Iona / St. Francis (PA)
Last 4 Byes: Last 4 In: First 4 Out: Next 4 Out:
Seton Hall Clemson Florida Creighton
NC State Georgetown Furman Alabama
Minnesota TCU Ohio State Xavier
Belmont UNC Greensboro Indiana Lipscomb
First, I’d like to point out that even though the NCAA has dismissed the RPI and implemented the new NET ranking system this season, it isn’t that simple. You can’t take a system that’s been in play for years and suddenly discount it fully in favor of a new, unproven ranking system. That said, my logic for these selections comes from a weighted combination of RPI, NET and, of course, the EYE TEST (sorry Ohio State and Alabama, you both fail that one)!
The One Seeds – That fourth spot is essentially up for grabs between Duke, Tennessee and Kentucky. I have Tennessee there right now because I don’t think their loss to Auburn is as bad as Kentucky’s loss to Alabama. If either Kentucky or Tennessee wins the SEC tournament, put that team alongside Virginia, Gonzaga and UNC. Duke would have to win the ACC tournament as well to get back to the top line.
Bubble Watch – To me, any team from Arizona State down is still subject to missing the tourney, while Temple and up are all safe. It’s obvious the new NET ranking is much friendlier to mediocre “Power 5” teams than really good mid-majors, whereas RPI tends to (rightfully so) favor a 27-5 mid-major over a 17-15 “Power-5” team. That’s why I take both into account.
Last 4 Byes – NC State’s an interesting case. The Wolfpack beat who they’re supposed to (minus two bad losses @ Wake Forest and vs Georgia Tech) and lose to who they’re supposed to (only good win is vs Auburn). That gives them a respectable NET ranking of 32 but a horrific RPI of 102. If they’re in, that’d be the lowest RPI among at-large bids. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt because they’re 21-10 and went .500 in the ACC.
Belmont – A win at UCLA, a season sweep of Lipscomb and a win at Murray State highlight the Bruins’ season. Their resume also features a respectable loss at Purdue and a not-so respectable loss at Green Bay. With a NET of 45 and an RPI of 40, Belmont is one of the few teams in the country whose two rankings are extremely consistent, put ‘em on the right side of the bubble.
Last 4 In / First 4 Out – Let’s make some comparisons! How can I have Georgetown in and Florida out??? For starters, the Hoyas are seven games over .500 while the Gators are just three over. They both have low RPIs with Georgetown’s at 78 and Florida’s at 70, however, the Gators have a NET of 33. That’s solely because the NET favors those mediocre big schools. Against Quadrant I and II opponents, Florida is 6-12 while Georgetown is 11-10. That’s my deciding factor. UNC Greensboro gets in as long as they play Wofford tight in the Southern Conference title game. With an RPI of 32 and ZERO losses outside of the first quadrant, they make sense over Ohio State and Indiana, who have RPIs of 64 and 84.
Big Ten 7
Big 12 7
Big East 5
Mountain West 2
Ohio Valley 2