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Seed List: Breaking down the top line

Dave2015Who’s the best team in college basketball?  It’s a tough question, with four or five terrific options.  Who’s the team with the best resume among those five?  Figuring that out was the goal of a deliberate break-down early this morning.

How did it turn out?  The biggest debate was actually between teams four and five, in other words, the last No. 1 seed and the top No. 2 seed.  In this case, those teams were Virginia and Michigan.

Seed List

Ultimately, Michigan State moved to the first position.  The Spartans have a group-best six road wins, lead the nation’s No. 2 NET-rated Conference, have five wins against the currently projected at-large field and rank No. 1 against the Strength of Record.  MSU also has 11 wins against NET Groups 1/2 – including nine  against Group 1.  Note: the last NET rankings available at the time of publication was through Wednesday’s games (1/23).

Duke was next in line with six wins against the projected field, the best SOS numbers, and a general feeling that had the injury and illness bug not caught up with the Blue Devils against Syracuse, they would be a two-point loss to Gonzaga away from a perfect season.  Also, for the moment, via tiebreaker, Duke would be the ACC leader.

Tennessee sits in the third position (by no fault of their own).  The Volunteers lead the SEC, own a perfect 4-0 road record, have three wins against the projected at-large field, and their only loss came against a full-strength Kansas team in November.

Which brings us to the Virginia – Michigan debate …

The computers favor Virginia.  The NET, BPI, and Ken Pom all rank UVA No. 1; they are No. 2 against the SOR metric (Strength of Record).  Overall quality of wins favor Michigan.  The Wolverines have 11 wins against NET Groups 1/2; the Cavaliers have eight.  Both teams have one loss – Virginia by two points at Duke (who played without Tre Jones) and Michigan at Wisconsin.  Both teams have the same number of wins against the at-large field, Michigan might have one more depending on the bubble breakdown.  Neither’s non-conference SOS was a differentiating factor.

None of us know how this year’s Selection Committee will process its new NET rankings. But if those ratings serve as a form of tie-breaker against two equally comparable teams, then one would think the Committee would go with Virginia as neither is a west coast-based team (which could be a factor for Gonzaga down the line).

All of this could change by Monday morning, of course, but that’s how we reached a conclusion this morning.  Then again, there are no right answers here; debate away.

For demonstration purposes, here’s a breakdown box of items mentioned above.

NET 1/2
Michigan State 3 11-2 4 1 3 5 13/62
Duke 2 8-2 3 3 2 6 5/8
Tennessee 5 8-1 5 5 5 3 26/13
Virginia 1 8-1 1 2 1 3 45/170
Michigan 6 11-1 8 4 6 3 44/132
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