So now that we know the 16 favorite teams of the NCAA men’s tournament selection committee — at the moment, anyway — how to describe this concoction that has been put in the oven to bake a bit more before they get ranked for real in three weeks?
Look at the ingredients label, of course.
This bracket reveal includes . . .
- 56 percent non-champions. Nine of the 16 — including the top three in Alabama, Houston and Purdue — have never won a title.
- 18.75 percent Final Four-less programs. Alabama, Tennessee and Xavier have never made it that far. Iowa State was there once, in 1944. Texas has been once in 75 years. Kansas State hasn't been in 58 seasons, Purdue in 42.
- One No. 1 seed that has never, ever seen such a thing before. That’d be the Alabama Crimson Tide, who are the projected top seed on the entire dance floor. Forty-nine different schools have previously been a No. 1 seed, but never the Tide. They seem to be warming to the idea, destroying Georgia 108-59 Saturday, a result that reminded us of two things: Alabama is on an astonishing roll and this ain’t football season.
- One team that was picked to finish ninth in its conference. Marquette.
- One team that was picked to finish last in its conference. Kansas State.
❓How is the field of 68 picked?
- 93.75 percent of the current top 16 teams in the Associated Press poll. In other words, 15 of the 16. Sorry Miami, you’re the odd Hurricanes out.
- 31.25 percent teams from the Eastern time zone. This is unusually low, since the good ol’ EST — or EDT, seeing as the title is decided in April — has produced 21 of the past 24 national champions. That’s what happens when the likes of Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State and Villanova are no-shows on this list. But while the East has gone 21-for-24, the Central zoners from the Big 12 have climbed the past two championship night ladders with Kansas and Baylor.
- 31.25 percent Big 12. That’s five teams and all five are in the top 12. The Big 12 has as many names on this list as the Big Ten, ACC and SEC combined. The NCAA’s philosophy is to keep highly-seeded conference teams in different regions but that likely won’t be possible given the Big 12 tsunami in the bracket.
- 18.75 percent Far Westerners. In other words UCLA, Gonzaga and Arizona. Now would be the time to mention it has been 26 years since the last champion came from the West, Arizona in 1997.
- One defending champion. Kansas is a No. 1 seed and the Jayhawks looked every inch of it Saturday as they were thrashing Baylor 55-26 in the second half. If it stays that way, this would be the 16th time they have been a No. 1, behind only North Carolina’s record of 17. And it would be a rather staggering 10th No. 1 seed in the past 16 tournaments. The other three top seeds in the bracket reveal — Alabama, Houston and Purdue — have four all-time No. 1’s combined.
- 12.5 percent teams who started the season with new coaches. Xavier and Sean Miller, Kansas State and Jerome Tang.
- 6.25 percent teams who got a new coach in December. Texas with interim Rodney Terry taking over after the Chris Beard suspension and later firing.
- 18.75 percent Lone Star Staters: Houston, Baylor and Texas.
- 12.5 percent teams not in the power conferences, if you throw the Big East onto the power pile with the usual five. That leaves Gonzaga and Houston.
- 50 percent coaches who have been to a Final Four.
- 18.75 percent coaches who have been to a Final Four with another program: Marquette’s Shaka Smart via VCU, Houston’s Kelvin Sampson with Oklahoma and Tennessee’s Rick Barnes with Texas.
- 6.25 percent teams that once had the chairman of the NCAA selection committee in its lineup. Bradley administrator and committee chair Chris Reynolds played guard for Indiana’s 1992 Final Four team.
- 25 percent teams that have had losing records in February: Iowa State, Kansas State, Tennessee and Purdue. But they play in tough leagues so they’re forgiven. Especially Purdue, which has dropped three of its past four games but is still a No. 1 seed.
- 25 percent teams who lost either Thursday or Saturday of bracket reveal weekend. Purdue, Tennessee, Baylor, Iowa State — though the last two were beaten by fellow bracket members. Also, Texas barely escaped Oklahoma in overtime and Virginia needed a last stop to get by Notre Dame by two points, both at home. Nothing provides much safety this season, and that includes NCAA preview brackets.
🚨RANKINGS: See the full top-16
- 25 percent of last April’s Final Four. No Duke, North Carolina or Villanova. Only Kansas.
- 100 percent of the past three national champions: Kansas, Baylor and Virginia.
- 0 percent of the schools that won the 10 previous titles leading up to Virginia in 2019. Matter of fact, only four of the past 25 national championships are represented among the 16. A rather unconventional college basketball season is what this bracket suggests. But that got revealed a long time ago.