No Big Ten teams among top 16 Tournament seeds

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

East Lansing — New NCAA Tournament Selection Committee chairman Mark Hollis might've felt a tad uneasy unveiling the early top 16 seeds Saturday.

There wasn't a single Big Ten team in the mix.

Wisconsin (21-3, 10-1 Big Ten), Purdue (20-5, 9-3) and Maryland (20-4, 8-3) failed to make the early cut, not that it means much, with the real Selection Sunday still a month away.

Villanova, Kansas, Baylor and Gonzaga were unveiled as the early No. 1 seeds, followed by North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville and Oregon as No. 2s.

Hollis called the No. 1 seeds an easy call, at this point.

"But as we know," Hollis said while unveiling the top 16 seeds on CBS, "things can change quickly.

"There are more than 1,300 games left before Selection Sunday, so how those teams are seeded and where they will ultimately be sent to play in the Tournament remains a mystery."

Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis is also the new NCAA Tournament Selection Committee chairman.

This is the first year the NCAA has released an early sneak peek at the top seeds. No surprise, it was done under Hollis' watch as head honcho, given his willingness to think outside the box.

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He's trying to drum up early buzz for the NCAA Tournament, like the College Football Playoff Committee has done with its weekly updates.

Hollis and the committee only released the top 16 seeds, because given there are so many automatic bids for conference tournament champions, it didn't want to get into the forecasting business for the remaining seeds.

As for the Big Ten, which is by all accounts having a down season, Hollis said Wisconsin and Purdue — ranked Nos. 7 and 16, respectively, in the Associated Press poll, and Nos. 5 and 18 in the coaches' poll — received strong consideration for making the top 16.

"This was a productive and useful exercise," Hollis said.

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Coming in Nos. 9 through 16 were: Arizona, Virginia, Florida, Kentucky, Butler, West Virginia, UCLA and Duke.

After Hollis' segment on CBS ends, CBS bracketologist Jerry Palm unveiled his early look at the entire NCAA Tournament field.

Of note to state basketball fans, he has both Michigan (15-9, 5-6) and Michigan State (14-10, 6-5) in the Tournament, though they definitely are bubble teams. He has Michigan a No. 7 seed playing Southern California, and Michigan State an 11 seed playing Syracuse in a First Four game in Dayton.

The four-seed gap between the teams is interesting, given they split the season series. The Wolverines won the most recent game, though, and in dominating fashion at Crisler Center earlier this week.

Michigan State hosts Iowa on Saturday, and Michigan visits Indiana on Sunday.

NCAA Tournament early top 16 seeds

1. Villanova

2. Kansas

3. Baylor

4. Gonzaga

5. UNC

6. Florida State

7. Louisville

8. Oregon

9. Arizona

10. Virginia

11. Florida

12. Kentucky

13. Butler

14. West Virginia

15. UCLA

16. Duke