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Joe Boozell | | February 11, 2019

NCAA bracketology: Let's break down the Top 16 for the men's tournament

Andy Katz analyzes the selection committee's Top 16 teams from Saturday's reveal

Here is a full look at the top 16 teams if the season ended today, according to the Division I Men's Basketball Committee.

Top 16 teams
Current Seed Line School
1 Duke
1 Tennessee
1 Virginia
1 Gonzaga
2 Kentucky
2 Michigan
2 North Carolina
2 Michigan State
3 Purdue
3 Kansas
3 Houston
3 Marquette
4 Iowa State
4 Nevada
4 Louisville
4 Wisconsin

The 1-seeds were predictable, and it's hard to argue with any of them. Duke, Tennessee, Virginia and Gonzaga have a combined six losses between them and are the top four teams, in some order, in the NET rankings and the AP Poll.

ANDY KATZ PREDICTION: The complete March Madness field of 68 predicted after the Top 16 reveal

They've been the four most consistently dominant schools this year. And two of those losses came against other current 1-seeds; Virginia lost to Duke, while Duke fell to Gonzaga.

Duke, Tennessee, Virginia and Gonzaga all have outstanding resumes, and they look the part. All are legitimate national title contenders.

Move down to the 2-line, and you have more great teams, but they haven't been as consistently good as the 1s. Kentucky, for instance, has been playing like a 1 seed since about mid-December. But it struggled early on in a way that the top four teams haven't. The Wildcats are 12-1 since Dec. 15 with wins over North Carolina, Louisville, Auburn, Mississippi State, Kansas and Florida. That's incredible work, and nobody wants to play Kentucky right now. It could inch its way up to the 1-line by season's end. But for now, this is right.

The same goes for teams like Michigan and Michigan State. The Wolverines started off 17-0 but haven't looked as good in the last six games, falling to Wisconsin and Iowa. The Spartans, meanwhile, ripped off a 13-game win steak but are currently on a three-game skid. That includes a loss to Illinois, and Michigan State recently learned that Joshua Langford won't return this season.

Illinois upsets Michigan State

Michigan State has done enough to justify a 2-seed at the moment, but the arrow is pointing down. Keep an eye on the Spartans the rest of the way. And North Carolina is sort of the anti-Michigan State: the Tar Heels were up and down until about a month ago, and they've won six straight games since. UNC has the talent to beat anyone.

Things get more interesting after the top two seed lines, and Kansas is an interesting inclusion as a three. The Jayhawks are ranked 18th in the NET and have really struggled lately. But their overall resume is still solid: Kansas banked wins over Michigan State, Marquette, Villanova and Tennessee early. Like Michigan State, we'll see if the Jayhawks can maintain this seeding. Because they've lost four of six and haven't looked right since Udoka Azubuike went down. Here's the committee's explanation on Kansas, which was close to nabbing a No. 2 seed:

“The final spot on the 2 line came down to Michigan State’s eight Quadrant 1 wins, five of which have come away from home,” said Muir. “While Kansas has a similar number of Quadrant 1 wins as the Spartans, we thought Kansas’s performance on the road, along with the unfortunate season-ending injury to Udoka Azubuike, kept the Jayhawks behind Purdue. At the same time, the abundance of quality wins kept Kansas in front of Houston." college hoops home | NET rankings

It's also a bit surprising that Marquette is a 3-seed, but Villanova isn't in at all. The Wildcats rank higher than the Golden Eagles in the NET, and their records are identical. But Marquette notched nonconference wins over Wisconsin, Buffalo and Louisville, while Villanova really struggled before Big East play began.

Marquette and Villanova face each other on Saturday. Again, it's interesting to see how the committee views the top two squads in the Big East now, but there is a lot of basketball to be played before Selection Sunday. From the committee on Villanova:

"While a handful of teams were considered for the final spot, it eventually turned into a two-team race between Wisconsin and Villanova, and the Badgers ended up getting more votes based on having six Quadrant 1 wins, including four away from home.”

Wisconsin survives at Minnesota, 56-51

A note on the final seed line: Nevada as a four may seem low at first glance, and its 21-1 record is pristine. But it doesn't have the quality wins that the schools on the top three lines do. A four feels fine. Iowa State, Louisville and Wisconsin all deserve to be in that range, too.

Selection Sunday is just around the corner. March Madness can't come soon enough.

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