The Division I Men’s Basketball Committee has revealed their top 16 teams.
If the season were to end today, Tennessee, Duke, Virginia, and Gonzaga would all be number one seeds. Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, and Michigan State all would be two seeds, followed by Purdue, Kansas, Houston, and Marquette as three seeds, and finally Iowa St., Nevada, Louisville, and Wisconsin as four seeds.
At first glance, you see just how dominant the Big Ten and ACC have been this year, featuring 50% of the top 16 teams from these two conferences. Top-to-bottom, both of these conferences are tough, where each victory must be earned in conference play, even against teams at the bottom of the standings.
The Big 12 is having a bit of a down year, which is interesting since Kansas, the conference’s top representative for the past decade, is also having a down year. There aren’t as many elite teams in the conference as years past, but should still have quite a few teams in the tournament this year.
The Big 12 may be having a down year, but they aren’t as bad as compared to the PAC 12, who have zero teams in the top 16. The conference as a whole is just terrible this year, and will likely send only a couple teams to the big dance.
The SEC has two legitimate contenders in Tennesee and Kentucky, but after that the conference isnt quite as competitive. These two will likely be the only teams to represent the conference late in the tournament.
Nevada, Marquette, and Gonzaga all come from non-power five conferences, so they are tougher for the committee to gauge their true ranking. However, a couple non-power five conferences have some big wins over the top conferences, most notably Gonzaga’s win over then-number one ranked Duke.
One thing that stood out to me that I found intriguing was Michigan State’s number two ranking. Before Saturday’s win over Minnesota, MSU had lost three straight games, all to non-ranked opponents. It appears the committee is valuing high quality wins over bad losses, which MSU has numerous in both categories. This is good news for bubble teams like Indiana, who also have some bad losses, but have some really high quality teams too.
There’s still plenty of games left in the season, as well as conference tournaments to be played at the conclusion of the season, so teams will have plenty of chances to gain some of them high quality wins and make a case for themselves.