It’s creeping into deep winter now across the country, and that means we’re getting closer to the NCAA Tournament to decide the Division I men’s basketball championship—perhaps the most legitimate way to determine a title winner in the serious sports world of modern-day America.
We explained our process for these rankings in the first volume of this series, using these factors: actual performance, offensive and defensive efficiency, road record, schedule strength, and team production. Unlike the Associated Press pollsters, we don’t just rank teams by their win-loss record, because not all wins (or losses) are created equally.
Check in every Tuesday this regular season to see how we would rank and seed the top 16 teams in the country, regardless of conference, for March Madness. Here we go, in order:
- Kansas (14-3)
- Duke (15-3)
- Gonzaga (20-1)
- Baylor (16-1)
- Michigan State (14-4)
- Louisville (15-3)
- Dayton (16-2)
- West Virginia (15-3)
- San Diego State (19-0)
- Seton Hall (14-4)
- Arizona (13-5)
- Maryland (14-4)
- Florida State (16-2)
- Butler (15-3)
- Iowa (13-5)
- Oregon (15-4)
On the cusp: Kentucky, Purdue, Texas Tech, Ohio State, Florida, Villanova, Wisconsin
The Jayhawks have played the toughest schedule in the country so far, and that primarily is why they rise above other teams. The Blue Devils still have excellent balance on offense and defense, sabermetrically, while Gonzaga and Baylor mostly get dinged for their soft non-conference schedule strength.
Here is how we would seed these 16 teams regionally, based on the upcoming regional sites for the 2020 tournament, with the top seeds getting geographic advantage(s):
Indianapolis: No. 1 Kansas, No. 8 West Virginia, No. 9 San Diego State, No. 16 Oregon
New York: No. 2 Duke, No. 7 Dayton, No. 10 Seton Hall, No. 15 Iowa
Los Angeles: No. 3 Gonzaga, No. 6 Louisville, No. 11 Arizona, No. 14 Butler
Houston: No. 4 Baylor, No. 5 Michigan State, No. 12 Maryland, No. 13 Florida State
In terms of winning it all, the teams with the best chances right now are still Duke and Kansas, in that order (which may be confusing in terms of the rankings above, but we explained this last year—there is a difference between what has happened and what could happen). A second tier of teams with good shots at winning it all include Louisville, Michigan State, and Butler.
Everything is subject to change, of course, as we get deeper into the season. That’s the fun part of this weekly update, right?
Stay tuned every Tuesday of the season for updated projections!