A few weeks ago, Michigan and Michigan State were both on a path toward No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
Things have gone off course a bit as Michigan has lost twice and Michigan State is in the midst of a three-game skid. However, each still has an overall resume worthy of a No. 2 seed, according to the Men’s Basketball Committee, which revealed the top 16 teams on Saturday afternoon.
Michigan drew the No. 6 overall seed and the No. 2 seed in the East Region where Duke, the top overall seed, was at No. 1. Michigan State was ranked the No. 8 overall seed and drew the No. 2 spot in the West where Gonzaga was No. 1.
The other No. 1 seeds included Tennessee (No. 2 overall) in the South and Virginia (No. 3 overall) in the Midwest. The remaining No. 2 seeds went to Kentucky (No. 5 overall) and North Carolina (No. 7 overall).
“There was considerable discussion about the order of the top seven schools, but certainly those teams separated themselves from the others at this time,” said Brendan Muir, Stanford athletic director and committee chair. “Duke and Tennessee were essentially 1 and 1a; it was that close. A slight edge in some of the metrics was the difference in Duke getting the overall top seed. Virginia was a solid No. 3 team on the top line, and Gonzaga got the fourth No. 1 seed based largely on the teams they’ve beaten and the quality of the opponents they’ve lost to.”
Kentucky, with three wins away from home in the upper half of Quadrant 1, had an advantage as the best of the No. 2 seeds, while Michigan’s head-to-head win over North Carolina slotted the Wolverines at No. 6 on the seed list followed by the Tar Heels seventh.
“The final spot on the 2 line came down to Michigan State’s eight Quadrant 1 wins, five of which have come away from home,” Muir said. “While Kansas has a similar number of Quadrant 1 wins as the Spartans, we thought Kansas’s performance on the road, along with the unfortunate season-ending injury to Udoka Azubuike, kept the Jayhawks behind Purdue. At the same time, the abundance of quality wins kept Kansas in front of Houston.”
The three seeds went to Purdue (South), Kansas (West), Houston (Midwest) and Marquette (East). The No. 4 spots went to Iowa State (East), Nevada (South), Louisville (West) and Wisconsin (Midwest).
Of course, there is a little more than a month to go in the regular season, which could change the seedings significantly. That’s especially true for Michigan and Michigan State as the rivals must still face each other twice in the final two weeks of the season.
“There are more than 1,000 games left in the season so there’s no telling what our top four lines will look like come Selection Sunday,” Muir said. “Last year, 13 of the 16 teams we revealed in February remained in the top 16, and two of the three teams that fell out were on the 5 line. In 2017, 15 of the 16 teams remained the same. At the same time, there are teams dealing with significant injuries while others are getting healthy and improving. A lot can happen. I know all of us are looking forward to the stretch run of the regular season.”
NCAA projected seeding
East (Washington, D.C.): (1) Duke, (2) Michigan, (3) Marquette, (4) Iowa State
South (Louisville): (1) Tennessee, (2) North Carolina, (3) Purdue, (4) Nevada
Midwest (Kansas City): (1) Virginia, (2) Kentucky, (3) Houston, (4) Wisconsin
West (Anaheim): (1) Gonzaga, (2) Michigan State, (3) Kansas, (4) Louisville