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Michigan a No. 1 seed in NCAA selection committee's initial rankings

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Michigan hasn’t played a game in over three weeks but that hasn’t affected its standing with the NCAA Tournament committee.

The men’s basketball selection committee unveiled its top 16 teams on Saturday and Michigan checked in at No. 3 overall, giving it the No. 1 seed in Region 3.

The other No. 1 seeds were Gonzaga (No. 1 overall) in Region 1, Baylor (No. 2 overall) in Region 2 and Ohio State (No. 4 overall) in Region 4.

The Wolverines have won the majority of their Big Ten games by double figures.

Illinois was the top team on the 2-seed line, followed by Villanova, Alabama and Houston. The 3-seed line was led by Virginia, with West Virginia, Tennessee and Oklahoma right behind. Iowa, Texas Tech, Texas and Missouri rounded out the top 16.

With the entire tournament taking place in the Indianapolis area this year, all 68 teams will be bracketed more closely to their true seeding with the committee relying more on the S-curve than geographical proximity. For example, the top overall seed would draw the weakest No. 2 seed and the strongest No. 3 seed in its region.

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Michigan (13-1, 8-1 Big Ten) last played on Jan. 22, when it beat Purdue, 70-53, for one of its seven conference wins by double figures. Its lone loss was an 18-point beating at Minnesota.

The Wolverines entered play on Saturday ranked third in the NCAA’s NET, an evaluation tool used for selecting and seeding the NCAA Tournament field. They are also 3-1 in Quadrant I games, which are classified as games against top-30 teams at home, top-50 teams at neutral sites and top-75 teams on the road.

"I think our principles don't change," committee chair Mitch Barnhart said during the early bracket reveal on CBS. "It is who you beat. It is where you beat them. It is about the full body of work. It is about opportunities you are presented with for victories, big games and getting those quality wins. Having said that, no one is going to be penalized for being on pause.

"It is not the committee's job to speculate and sit here and say, 'What if they played? What if they had more games on their resume?' We just have to evaluate the resumes as they lie and take a look at those things that have been our principles all along." 

With less than a month to go in the regular season, Michigan could see its seeding change over a busy closing stretch. Four of the Wolverines’ six scheduled games are against ranked foes — at Wisconsin, Rutgers, at Ohio State and Iowa — and they also have five postponed games that could be made up before the postseason.

Michigan returns to action Sunday at Wisconsin, its first game in 23 days following the athletic department’s two-week shutdown.

The full and official bracket will be unveiled during Selection Sunday on March 14.

NCAA Tournament top 16 seeds

Region 1: (1) Gonzaga, (2) Alabama, (3) Oklahoma, (4) Iowa

Region 2: (1) Baylor, (2) Illinois, (3) Tennessee, (4) Texas

Region 3: (1) Michigan, (2) Houston, (3) West Virginia, (4) Missouri

Region 4: (1) Ohio State, (2) Villanova, (3) Virginia, (4) Texas Tech

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins