The wait is over!!! Finally, after an entire month of hearing about Quadrant 1 wins, the bubble, and RPI we know the 68 teams that have a chance to cut down the nets in San Antonio come early April. However, let’s not sit here and believe every Cinderella has a prominent place at the ball when we know our eventual national champion almost always comes from the power 16 seeds.
Once the top seeds were unveiled naturally those of us at Bet the Board headquarters took umbrage with a few of the selection committee’s curious decisions. As it pertains to the final few teams receiving at large bids, we won’t waste our precious words here knowing the boys will inevitably discuss that in greater detail on Wednesday’s opening weekend podcast, so lets focus on the real contenders.
1 Seeds: Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, Xavier
Kudos to the committee; they nailed the top two teams in the entire field. That said, being right 50% of the time as a sports bettor means you’re consistently handing over an envelope to your neighborhood bookmaker. Kansas deserves a ton of credit for winning the BigXII regular season for the 1,654th time in a row before closing the campaign with a nice win against West Virginia in the conference tourney, but they’re not one of the nation’s top teams anymore than Xavier is. Pencil both these sides into the Final 4 at your own peril despite the lofty seed.
2 seeds: Duke, North Carolina, Cincinnati, Purdue
Surprisingly enough, we didn’t have any major qualms about this quartet of teams landing on the two-line. There’s a strong case to be made by their overall power profile that Duke and Cincinnati deserve to be higher but the slight under-seeding here doesn’t appear to provide additional road blocks.
3 seeds: Tennessee, Texas Tech, Michigan, Michigan St
Michigan State being mentioned in the same breath as their in-state counterpart Michigan along with Texas Tech is definitely fair play. Now when you want to discuss the difference between best teams and most deserving take a look at the Volunteers questionable candidacy. Quick spoiler; they’re not included in our Top 16. Rick Barnes deserves a ton of credit getting a team pegged to finish 13th in the SEC preseason media poll into such a strong postseason position, but expecting a deep run in the dance could have Bracketologists flirting with fire.
4 seeds: Gonzaga, Auburn, Wichita St, Arizona
Stop me if you’ve heard this before; Gonzaga has been disrespected by the committee on selection Sunday. Last year not withstanding, Mark Few’s program consistently receives the shaft for the path laid out in front of them to win a national championship. Fortunately for the Zags, they landed in a region with the most overrated 1-seed, so there’s a real possibility ending up as a 4 gives the Bulldogs an inside track to the elite 8. In regards to the other three teams, Wichita State appears a touch low but not enough to launch an investigation. However, Auburn and Arizona shouldn’t be included here. Before Arizona fans want us chased out of town with pitch forks, lets reserve judgment to see if the Wildcats even find a way to navigate into the Sweet 16 despite having the #1 player in all of college hoops on their roster.
Here’s a complete look at our Bet the Board Sweet 16 and how we see the top of the board.
7) Michigan State
8) North Carolina
10) West Virginia
12) Wichita State
13) Texas Tech