The NCAA selection committee revealed its second-ever in-season bracket preview Sunday, and the question on every team’s mind is “What does this mean for March?”
Well, lucky for us, we’ve got a year of data to pull from.
Last year’s Top 16 reveal was the first of its kind, and it gave us some interesting insight into how the in-season rankings can inform the final seeding come Selection Sunday.
First takeaway: they’re pretty accurate as a whole.
Last year, 15 of the 16 teams ranked in the in-season Top 16 were ranked in the Top 16 on Selection Sunday. The lone outlier was Virginia, which fell to No. 17, replaced by Purdue.
The committee also got three of the 1-seeds correct in Villanova, Kansas, and Gonzaga, while North Carolina (projected as the top 2 seed in the in-season rankings) replaced Baylor as the final top-seed in the tournament.
|Team||Early-reveal seed (overall rank)||Tournament seed (overall rank)|
|Villanova||1 (1)||1 (1)|
|Kansas||1 (2)||1 (2)|
|Baylor||1 (3)||3 (12)|
|Gonzaga||1 (4)||1 (4)|
|North Carolina||2 (5)||1 (3)|
|Florida State||2 (6)||3 (10)|
|Louisville||2 (7)||2 (8)|
|Oregon||2 (8)||3 (9)|
|Arizona||3 (9)||2 (6)|
|Virginia||3 (10)||5 (17)|
|Florida||3 (11)||4 (14)|
|Kentucky||3 (12)||2 (5)|
|Butler||4 (13)||4 (13)|
|West Virginia||4 (14)||4 (15)|
|UCLA||4 (15)||3 (11)|
|Duke||4 (16)||2 (7)|
Let’s take a look at some of the key risers and fallers and see how they performed between the in-season rankings and Selection Sunday:
Early reveal: 1-seed (3 overall)
Tournament: 3-seed (12 overall)
Performance: Went 4-4 after the rankings, losing to three unranked teams and being bumped from its first game of the Big 12 tournament, though the Bears did pick up a win against No. 10 West Virginia in the penultimate game of the season.
Early reveal: 2-seed (5 overall)
Tournament: 1-seed (3 overall)
Performance: Went 6-2 after the rankings, beating No. 14 Virginia, No. 7 Louisville, and No. 17 Duke. Its two losses came on the road against No. 23 Virginia and in the ACC tournament semifinal against No. 14 Duke.
Early reveal: 3-seed (10 overall)
Tournament: 5-seed (17 overall)
Performance: Went 4-5 after the rankings, losing to two unranked teams (and three ranked ACC foes), but beating No. 5 UNC at home.
Early reveal: 5-seed (12 overall)
Tournament: 2-seed (5 overall)
Performance: Went undefeated after the rankings, winning 10 in a row (including one over No. 13 Florida) and capturing the SEC tournament title.
Early reveal: 4-seed (16 overall)
Tournament: 2-seed (7 overall)
Performance: Went 8-3 after the rankings. Signature wins came against on the road against No. 14 Virginia and at home vs. No. 15 Florida State. Three losses (including two to unranked teams) had the Blue Devils reeling towards the end of the regular season, but running the table in the ACC tournament (with three straight ranked wins) certainly helped their case on Selection Sunday.
The implications for this year’s Top 16 are pretty obvious: Nothing is guaranteed at this point. There’s a month until Selection Sunday, which is plenty of time for hot teams to go ice cold, and sinking teams to right the ship.