Bracketology: Alabama is the NCAA selection committee’s top early seed, with Houston, Purdue and Kansas also being No. 1

The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee announced its top 16 teams this morning, with Alabama being the No. 1 overall finisher. If the Crimson Tide can stay on top for selection Sunday, it would be their first time placing overall.

When asked what made this season different from recent years, committee chairman Chris Reynolds noted that there is very little separation between the teams at the top than there has been in other seasons.

When the committee goes through the bracket and compares teams, sometimes what stands out in a comparison, good or bad, can make all the difference. For Alabama, that was the win at #2 overall Houston. The Cougars have been cited for being undefeated on the road while Purdue has only lost to Quad 1 teams. So is Kansas, which has by far the best game schedule this season but has five losses.

Only one of these losses is in question. That loss to TCU is only questionable because of the goal advantage, and the committee isn’t overly concerned about that. That should be obvious since Alabama’s loss to Oklahoma didn’t do enough to keep the Crimson Tide from becoming the No. 1 pick.

If any of this carries a message, it seems that the quality of a team’s losses isn’t as important as some other factors. They’re certainly not nothing, but quality gains seem more important.

NCAA early tournament top seeds

Check out Palm’s latest bracket, the full field of 68, and all the teams on the bubble on the Bracketology hub.

The two worst losses on the top line of the bracket belong to the top two teams. The second line shows Arizona ahead of UCLA. The Bruins lack quality wins that Arizona has in abundance. All four of Arizona’s losses came from teams most likely to miss the tournament, while the opposite is true for UCLA.

A solid schedule remains important, as evidenced by five Big 12 teams on the committee’s list. Each of these teams has more losses than any other team on their betting line.

On the No. 4 seed line, Marquette and Xavier were switched from their original Regionals to better even out the bracket. That creates a potential regular-season rematch in the Sweet 16 between the Golden Eagles and Purdue.

In my extension of the committee bracket, Purdue, third overall, was paired with a first-four winner in the first round rather than No. 2 Houston because the Boilermakers were in the only Friday-Sunday subregion among the are number 1. The first four winners on each betting line must have one winner to play on Thursday and the other on Friday.

The teams discussed but missing the cut for the top 16 are (in alphabetical order) UConn, Creighton, Miami and Saint Mary’s. I seeded these teams as #5 in the last bracket update.

Of course, by the time you read this, that bracket would be obsolete. That’s the nature of in-season bracketing. More and more games are being added to the mix.

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