The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee will reveal its top 16 teams Saturday on the third annual Bracket Preview Show on CBS. The show will give college basketball fans their first glimpse at how the committee uses the NET in the first season of the metric’s implementation after it replaced the RPI last offseason.
Teams’ resumes will be evaluated through Friday’s games and the committee will rank the top 16 teams in order, then seed them No. 1 through No. 4 in each of the four regions, like it will on Selection Sunday for the full, 68-team NCAA Tournament bracket.
We examined the last two Bracket Preview Shows and compared the committee’s top 16 teams to their seeding in the NCAA Tournament brackets that were finalized a month later.
Ultimately, a team’s standing in the Bracket Preview Show is a pretty accurate indicator of what seed it will receive on Selection Sunday.
|Difference Between Bracket Preview Show Seed and NCAA Tournament Seed||Number of Schools|
|Zero Seed Lines||14|
|One Seed Line||12|
|Two Seed Lines||5|
|More Than Two Seed Lines||1|
Fourteen of the 32 teams, almost 44 percent, that have been part of the Bracket Preview Show have received the same seed on Selection Sunday. That includes six No. 1 seeds from the last two NCAA Tournaments, which means there’s a very good chance the teams that receive a No. 1 seed Saturday will also earn a top seed on Selection Sunday.
Twelve others, almost 38 percent, were seeded just one seed line higher or lower than their seed that was revealed on the Bracket Preview Show.
That means more than 80 percent – or roughly 13 of the 16 teams in the show – of schools that are featured on Saturday’s Bracket Preview Show will be seeded within one seed line of their seed from Saturday, if recent trends continue.
Only Oklahoma last season, which was the 16th team revealed (the final No. 4 seed), has experienced a change of more than two seed lines between the Bracket Preview Show and Selection Sunday. The Sooners received a No. 10 seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament after losing five of their seven games between the preview show and the release of the bracket.
Oklahoma reminds us that the Bracket Preview Show doesn’t serve as the committee’s seeding predictions for the NCAA Tournament, and it doesn’t mean that teams are locked into a certain seed or seed range. It’s simply a look at where schools and their resumes stand through February 8.
Most schools have seven to nine regular season games, plus their conference tournaments, between Saturday’s show and Selection Sunday.
A late-season slide, like the one the Sooners suffered last season, can easily drop a team from a top-four seed. Virginia (2017), Clemson (2018) and Ohio State (2018) each earned a No. 5 seed after appearing in the Bracket Preview Show in the last two seasons.
Teams can also improve their standing between Saturday and Selection Sunday.
Duke, in 2017, was the only team in the last two seasons to be featured in the top 16 reveal, then improve its seed by at least two seed lines by Selection Sunday. The Blue Devils were the final team to make the cut at No. 16 two seasons ago and they earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, in large part because of a road win at Virginia and an ACC Tournament title.
Michigan is another example of a school that improved between the Bracket Preview Show and Selection Sunday as the Wolverines weren’t featured in last season’s top 16 reveal, but they earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
There’s a very good chance that the order – and potentially even which teams are included – in the committee’s top 16 teams would change between Saturday afternoon and Saturday night, if the committee re-evaluated teams’ resume after the day’s games. Duke plays at Virginia, Wisconsin plays at Michigan, Villanova plays at Marquette and Louisville plays at Florida State in a loaded slate of games Saturday.
As a reminder, Saturday’s Bracket Preview show won’t have a 1-to-1 correspondence with the NET rankings, meaning teams ranked No. 1 through No. 4 in the NET won’t automatically earn the four No. 1 seeds, teams ranked No. 5 through No. 8 won’t automatically earn the No. 2 seeds, etc.
Kansas (No. 17 NET) and Marquette (No. 18 NET) are two teams ranked outside of the top 16 in the NET on Tuesday that have a strong likelihood of making the top 16 reveal, barring losses before Saturday.
On the other hand, Virginia Tech (No. 10 NET), Wisconsin (No. 12 NET), Iowa State (No. 13 NET) and Texas Tech (No. 16 NET) are schools whose NET rankings are potentially stronger than their resumes.
We’ll have a better idea come Saturday afternoon.