Purdue tops in-season Division I Men’s Basketball Committee rankings

Purdue tops in-season Division I Men’s Basketball Committee rankings

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee unveiled its top 16 teams on the Bracket Preview Show CBS earlier this afternoon, with chairman Charles McClelland revealing the committee’s consensus not only on which teams were worthy of a No. 1 seed but in which order they fell on the true seed list.

By virtue of its seven wins in the top half of the first quadrant, Purdue was selected as the overall top seed for the tournament if it were to start today. The Boilermakers, which are 23-2 against the nation’s toughest schedule, own an impressive list of wins against the likes of Arizona, Tennessee, Marquette, Alabama, Illinois, and Wisconsin, all of which were included in today’s Top 16 unveiling. Right on Purdue’s heels, however, is UConn, which owns 13 wins in the first two quadrants and only has two losses on the season. The defending national champion Huskies are seeking to become college basketball’s first repeat champion since Florida in 2007.

The other two No. 1 seeds are Houston, which sits atop the NET rankings on the strength of arguably the nation’s best defense, and Arizona, which has seven wins in the first quadrant against one of the nation’s schedules. The Cougars are 21-3 and sit tied atop the Big 12 Conference standings in their first year in the league, while the 19-5 Wildcats are leading the Pac-12 Conference and are attempting to win a conference title in their final year in the league.

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“It’s not unprecedented for the committee to be unanimous on which four teams deserve to be the top seeds but to have just about everyone agree on the sequence of those teams in terms of how they were voted in on the seed list is highly unusual,” said McClelland, who is the commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. “If the history of the Bracket Preview Show is an indicator, these four teams will be prime candidates to be No. 1 seeds next month.”

McClelland is spot on with that assessment. During last year’s reveal, Alabama, Houston, Purdue, and Kansas were tabbed as the top seeds in their respective region. All four remained on the top line on Selection Sunday. From the show’s inception in 2017 through 2022 (and removing the 2020 show because of the tournament’s cancellation due to the pandemic), three of the four No. 1 seeds remained the same in March. Each team that didn’t retain its top-seed status was a No. 2 seed in the tournament.

While there was a strong consensus on the quartet of teams voted to the two line, there were differing opinions on the order of those schools, starting with North Carolina and Tennessee. Ultimately, the Tar Heels’ home win over the Volunteers in November gave them a slight edge. Similarly, Marquette’s neutral court win over Kansas played a role in the Golden Eagles edging the Jayhawks for the overall Nos. 7 and 8 spots on the seed list.

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Alabama, which boasts the nation’s most efficient offense, leads the quartet of teams that ultimately landed on the three line. The Crimson Tide edged Baylor, which has a similar resume and efficiency rankings, based on performing slightly better on the road and having an edge in predictive metrics. Iowa State came in at No. 11 on the overall seed list. The Cyclones own one of the nation’s best defenses and have eight wins in the first two quadrants. Rounding out the three line is Duke, which beat out Auburn largely due to the number of wins and its winning percentage in quadrant one games. 

The metrics indicate Auburn would be a dangerous No. 4 seed. The Tigers rank among the top 10 nationally in offensive and defensive efficiency, as well as the predictive models. Last year’s national runner-up, San Diego State, remains one of the better teams in the country when it comes to defensive efficiency and has had some success despite a challenging non-conference schedule. Illinois was voted to the four line as well, with solid resume and predictive metrics and no bad losses. The last team revealed was Wisconsin, which has a 6-5 record in quadrant one games, something only a handful of other teams can match and what gave the Badgers an edge over such teams as Creighton, Dayton and Clemson, which were also considered for the fourth line.

Using its principles and procedures for selecting, seeding and bracketing, the committee placed the 16 teams into four regions. 

Midwest Region (Detroit) East Region (Boston) West Region (Los Angeles) South Region (Dallas)
1. Purdue 2. UConn 4. Arizona 3. Houston
6. Tennessee 5. North Carolina 8. Kansas 7. Marquette
10. Baylor 11. Iowa State 12. Duke 9. Alabama
14. San Diego State 16. Wisconsin 13. Auburn 15. Illinois

“This was a good process to go through, whether you have been on the committee for a number of years or if it was your first time,” McClelland said. “Parity is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but I believe we have seen much more of it than in most years, which makes me think we are in for a wild ride down the stretch of the season and as we get to March Madness. As is the case with millions of college basketball fans around the world, the committee is excited and ready.”

Selection Sunday is March 17. The tournament tips off with the Men’s First Four on March 19-20 in Dayton. First- and second-round sites will take place March 21 and 23 in Charlotte, Omaha, Pittsburgh, and Salt Lake City, and March 22 and 24 in Brooklyn, Indianapolis, Memphis, and Spokane. Regional action takes place in Boston and Los Angeles on March 28 and 30, and in Dallas and Detroit on March 29 and 30. The 85th Men’s Final Four will be played in Phoenix, on April 6 and 8. For ticket information, visit www.ncaatickets.com. 

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