The top overall seed, Kansas, is a no-brainer. Despite losing to Georgetown, we felt that Syracuse was the 2nd-best based on the strength of their victories. Kentucky then occupied the 3rd #1 seed. Finally, we had a tough choice between West Virginia, Duke, and Ohio State. Again, by strength of their wins and when they won (@ Villanova, against Georgetown twice, v. a hot Notre Dame, etc.), West Virginia take the spoils over Ohio State and Duke. We would not be surprised at all if Duke gets the nod, because they won a share of their conference's regular season title and the conference tournament.
The Argument for UTEP and Utah State
If you watched either of these teams throughout the season, they are DEFINITELY among the 34 best at-large teams. Each team had 15+ game win streaks during the heart of the basketball season. The sticking point for critics of both teams is who they've played. UTEP is a different team since Derrick Caracter joined the team. Utah State took a while to gel, but they are among the most dominant offensive teams nationally.
Last Four In, Last Three Out
When I completed the seedings late last night, 33 of the at-large teams were decided quite easily. After studying the entire body of work, at-large team #s 30-33 were UTEP, Minnesota, Utah State and California. That left Illinois, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, and Florida.
Ultimately, our deciding point answered the questions, "Who did you play?", "Who did you beat?" , and "How did you play?". If you only looked at the eye test, Virginia Tech would have been the odds-on favorite. If you looked out who you played, Illinois had the best OOC schedule. In the end, Illinois not only challenged themselves the most, but they beat the most teams, and the wins are staggered throughout the course of the season. Do not get me wrong. Mississippi State was fantastic in Nashville and I feel for them, because Kentucky seems to hand-pick referees for SEC games, and I am not sure how DeMarcus Cousins did not foul out of today's game. As far as Virginia Tech's argument that they tested themselves by going on the road to Penn State and Iowa, neither were picked to go to the tournament in the pre-season. Therefore, the argument holds little to no water.
- Villanova fell from a 3 to a 4 seed, while Purdue went from a 4 to a 3 seed.
- Oklahoma State fell from a 7 to an 8 seed, while Marquette went from an 8 to a 7 seed.
- Missouri fell from an 11 to a 12 seed, while California went from a 12 to an 11 seed.
Last Four In
Minnesota, Utah State, California, Illinois
Last Three Out
Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Florida
Seedings (Not Including Conflicts)
1: Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, West Virginia
2: Ohio State, Duke, Kansas State, Georgetown
3: Baylor, Pittsburgh, Temple, Villanova
4: Purdue, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Maryland
5: Tennessee, Michigan State, Vanderbilt, Butler
6: Texas A&M, Brigham Young, Richmond, Xavier
7: Northern Iowa, Texas, Gonzaga, Oklahoma State
8: Clemson, Marquette, San Diego State, UNLV
9: St. Mary’s, Florida State, Notre Dame, Old Dominion
10: Georgia Tech, Louisville, Wake Forest, Washington
11: Missouri, UTEP, Minnesota, Utah State
12: California, Cornell, Illinois, Siena
13: Murray State, New Mexico State, Oakland, Wofford
14: Sam Houston State, Houston, Montana, Ohio
15: UCSB, Morgan State, North Texas, East Tennessee State
16: Vermont, Robert Morris, Lehigh, Winthrop, Arkansas-Pine Bluff