INDIANAPOLIS — For the sixth consecutive year, the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee unveiled its top 16 teams on the Bracket Preview Show, which aired on CBS earlier this afternoon. For the second consecutive year, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are the overall No. 1 team on the committee’s seed list. It is the fourth straight year in which Gonzaga is one of the four No. 1 seeds on the committee’s February unveiling, which dates back to the 2017 championship.
Auburn, Arizona and Kansas were the other three No. 1 seeds unveiled by Tom Burnett, the commissioner of the Southland Conference and the chair of the committee, which met in Indianapolis Tuesday through Thursday of this week for its annual selection orientation meeting.
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“The margin between Gonzaga and Auburn is razor thin, as is the gap between Auburn and Arizona,” Burnett said. “The committee felt Gonzaga’s wins over Texas Tech, UCLA and Texas, which were all a part of today’s top 16, were reason enough to keep Gonzaga as the overall top team. Being just two overtime losses from being undefeated, combined with having a slightly better road record and strength of schedule, kept Auburn in front of Arizona.
“Of course, all of this could change with this weekend’s results, let alone with what transpires over the next three weeks. There’s a lot of basketball still to be played.”
Another trio of teams were discussed at great length for the final No. 1 seed, and it was Kansas that got the nod over Baylor and Kentucky. The committee cited the Jayhawks’ performances against teams from the first quadrant, as well as its road record, as reasons for having Kansas in that position.
“You could make a case for all three teams, as Baylor has more Quadrant 1 wins than anyone and Kentucky doesn’t have any losses outside of the first quadrant,” Burnett said. “Some head-to-head games involving those three teams certainly was a topic of conversation but as things stand today, we have Kansas with a slight edge.”
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Purdue and Duke joined Baylor and Kentucky as No. 2 seeds, with Purdue getting an edge on Duke based on having more wins within the first quadrant and not having any losses in Quadrants 2-4. Villanova, Texas Tech, Tennessee and Illinois are the quartet of teams seeded third in their respective regions, while Wisconsin, UCLA, Providence and Texas rounded out the unveiling. Villanova’s strong performances on the road, in part, landed them ninth on the overall seed list, while Texas Tech’s win over Tennessee, Illinois’ recent win over Wisconsin and performances against common opponents UCLA and Providence faced, helped determine the sequence of teams on the back end of the list.
Using its bracketing principles, the committee placed the 16 teams into the four regions:
WEST REGION (SAN FRANCISCO)
MIDWEST REGION (CHICAGO)
10. Texas Tech
SOUTH REGION (SAN ANTONIO)
EAST REGION (PHILADELPHIA)
Selection Sunday is March 13. The tournament tips off with the Men’s First Four March 15-16 in Dayton. First- and second-round sites will take place March 17 and 19 in Buffalo, Fort Worth, Indianapolis and Portland, and March 18 and 20 in Greenville, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and San Diego. Regional action take place in San Antonio and San Francisco (March 24 and 26), and Chicago and Philadelphia (March 25 and 27). The Men’s Final Four will be played in New Orleans April 2 and 4. For ticket information, visit www.ncaatickets.com.
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Joining Burnett on the committee is vice chair Chris Reynolds, the director of athletics at Bradley; veteran members Bubba Cunningham, the director of athletics at North Carolina; Charles McClelland, the commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference; Bernadette McGlade, the commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference; Mike O’Brien, the director of athletics at Toledo; and Jamie Pollard, the director of athletics at Iowa State. The committee, which this year expanded from 10 members to 12, also includes five first-year appointees: Greg Byrne, the director of athletics at Alabama; Barry Collier, the director of athletics at Butler; Mark Coyle, the director of athletics at Minnesota; Keith Gill, the commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference; and Martin Jarmond, the director of athletics at UCLA.