On Saturday, the men’s basketball committee revealed the top 16 seeds as they saw them heading into Saturday’s action. And while there will be some changes before Selection Sunday, we can learn some things from this reveal that may help us in four weeks.
As I said on Friday, the top 15 teams were a lock. The question was who would be slotted at No. 16. It was a surprise to many but Michigan State earned the 16th spot from the committee. The Spartans have been struggling of late and their resume is a bit weaker than some of the teams bracketed around them, including Big Ten counterparts Iowa and Penn State.
As we examine why MSU was chosen, two factors come into play: strength of schedule and NET ranking.
Strength of schedule could be one of the reasons that Iowa – and even moreso Penn State – was not slotted ahead of Michigan State. The Hawkeyes have a respectable SOS of 67, but their non-conference SOS is a paltry 166. Penn State, however, has a SOS of 95 with a devastating non-con SOS of 313. The committee has always docked teams whose non-con SOS goes over 300, and it appears that is the case here. At what point does Penn State’s outstanding resume overcome the SOS deficiency? My guess is they will have to continue to add on to the resume to break through as a top-four seed.
Another reason Michigan State got the nod was NET ranking, where the Spartans were ranked in the top 15. I suspect if the reveal had been done on Sunday morning, Michigan State could have been replaced on the four line by virtue of their loss to Michigan. On today’s bracket, I moved Kentucky ahead of the Spartans.
LAST FOUR IN: Cincinnati, VCU, Arizona State, Arkansas
FIRST FOUR OUT: Virginia, Stanford, NC State, Georgetown
NEXT FOUR OUT: Mississippi State, Utah, Utah State, UNC-Greensboro
CONFERENCES WITH MULTIPLE BIDS
BIG TEN: 11
BIG EAST: 6
BIG 12: 5
Now it’s time for Bracket Facts:
Tip of the cap to this team: Seton Hall. The top-ranked Big East team opened up a three-game lead by knocking off their closest challenger, Villanova, on Saturday. Seton Hall hosts second place Creighton on Wednesday.
Best team: Baylor. The Bears can have it on cruise control until Feb. 15 when they begin a 22-day stretch in which they face the top six teams in the Big 12 who are currently beneath them.
In the bracket but fading fast: Memphis. The red-hot start and top-16 seed seem years ago as the Tigers are only 5-5 in 2020. Their resume is very thin and they’ve dropped all the way to 60 on the NET rankings.
On the uptick: Kentucky. The ‘Cats have won 10 of their last 12 and have pulled into a tie for the SEC lead. Kentucky will travel to LSU in a week in a huge showdown.
I’ll provide updates each week on Monday and Friday until we reach Selection Sunday. Follow me on twitter @tkbrackets.