Selection Sunday is here. Tonight, the Selection Committee will reveal its 2017 NCAA tournament bracket. While there will be a healthy debate about whether Duke’s late-season run should vault them onto the No. 1 seed line, what we do know – or at least believe – is that reigning champ Villanova will be the No. 1 overall seed.
For now, North Carolina remains the top seed in the South Region. It may change this afternoon. Either way, your top line figures to end up with Villanova (East), Kansas (Midwest), North Carolina/Duke (South), Gonzaga (West).
With league favorites winning most of their conference tournaments, potential bid thieves have largely been eliminated. The biggest bubble debate figures to be centered around Syracuse. Will the Orange’s high quality wins outweigh its losses, record-high RPI, and poor record away from the Carrier Dome? That’s something we won’t know for sure until tonight.
As the final seconds ticked away in Brooklyn on Friday night, Duke celebrated a victory over rival North Carolina. With it, the Blue Devils may also have secured the No. 2 seed in the East Region behind Villanova. They certainly look dangerous. Arizona tripped UCLA in the Pac-12, setting up a rematch with Oregon. The winner will likely be the No. 2 seed out West.
Vanderbilt continues its climb and could become the first at-large team with 15 losses, assuming they fall short in the SEC tourney. Elsewhere on the bubble, teams like Kansas State, Wake Forest, USC, and Illinois State must sit and watch; their resumes complete. Pay special attention to the Atlantic 10 semifinals. Rhode Island is close to grabbing a spot, and two potential bid thieves lurk opposite the sets of Rams (URI, VCU). Today, it’ll be time to re-scrub the seed list again as more resumes fill up.
If you’re a golf fan, you’ll understand the reference to Moving Day. Moving Day in a Major tournament is Saturday. It’s the day when golfers position themselves for the final round on Sunday. Today is a Moving Day in college hoops.
Bubble teams Kansas State, Illinois, Iowa, California, and Vanderbilt- among others – take the court with a lot on the line. The same can be said, potentially, for Xavier, and even USC, although both helped themselves by avoiding a bad loss on Wednesday. Elsewhere, middle of the bracket teams like Michigan and Northwestern look to solidify their positions. Read more…
Wichita State took care of business Sunday in St. Louis, locking up the Missouri Valley’s automatic bid, and with it, a ticket to the Big Dance. Winners of 15 straight, the Shockers enter the 2017 tournament on quite a roll. Advanced metric models like their profile more than the RPI. We’ll know more about how the Selection Committee views them when seeding is revealed on Sunday. Regardless of where they fall, the Shockers will be a dangerous opponent.
Meanwhile, Illinois State begins a long, arduous wait. The Redbirds’ body of work is complete. All they can do is watch what unfolds in places like the Big 12, Big Ten, Atlantic 10, SEC, and even the Pac-12. They’ll be rooting for league favorites to advance.
It’s a big day in the Valley. The Missouri Valley, that is. Illinois State and Wichita State square off for the MVC championship under the Arch in St. Louis. The winner punches its dance ticket. The loser figures to have an anxiously long wait until Selection Sunday. As of this morning, Wichita State retains its at-large spot in the bracket. Illinois State is in as the auto bid due to its No. 1 seed in the league tourney.
The questions are easy. The answers not so much. Both Wichita State and Illinois State have put together outstanding seasons. Unfortunately, the rest of the MVC was along for the ride; no other team cracked the Top 100 of the RPI. Which leaves this year’s Selection Committee with an intriguing debate. How to weigh consistency on the court over a full season versus the opportunities to collect notable wins in a more accomplished conference? We’ll have to see how it plays out.
March is here. Madness awaits. The next ten days will be filled with hope, excitement, and anxiety as teams and fans await their 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket on Selection Sunday. Between now and then, we still have several things to sort out. Here’s what we know: Kansas, fresh off yet another Big 12 title, sits atop the bracket, followed closely by Villanova. Both the Jayhawks and Wildcats look fairly entrenched on the top line. The other two spots remain in play. Will Gonzaga hold on? Will a Pac-12 team make a jump to the one line? Can North Carolina survive the ACC tournament and keep its perch in the South?
Each of those story lines should be fun to watch. And we haven’t even talked about the bubble. Illinois, Wake Forest, and Kansas State all helped themselves Wednesday. USC and California are trying to hold on and state their case. Xavier continues to struggle, its NCAA outlook now unclear. Next week’s conference tournaments loom large for final seeding and selection. If a few bid stealers emerge, hold on.
If today were Selection Sunday, and North Carolina was the ACC champion, the Selection Committee would likely be inclined to reward the Tar Heels with a No. 1 seed over a very good Baylor team whose profile is equally impressive but lacks a conference title. In the world of splitting hairs, we just did. On that note, two interesting twists await. First, UNC hosts Louisville on Wednesday, and the Cardinals are No. 6 on the Seed List. If Louisville wins in Chapel Hill, the Cards could make a strong case for the top line on Thursday. Second, the Tar Heels close with an incredibly tough slate, going to Pittsburgh and Virginia before finishing at home with Duke. Baylor can easily play its way back up.
In the race for No. 1 seeds, Villanova and Kansas are sitting in strong positions as the regular season comes to a close. Should Gonzaga finish unbeaten, it would hard to drop the Zags from their No. 1 perch in the West. Which leaves, at least for now, one top seed up for grabs, and it could go any number of ways.
Another meh and blah weekend along the cutline. Should we lose solid mid-major programs like Middle Tennessee State, UNC Wilmington, and say, Monmouth or Illinois State during their conference championships, the Committee will have to heavily weigh a bunch of mediocre power teams versus some solid programs who have fewer chances for marquee wins.