Valentine’s Day is known for breaking hearts, and it’s getting to be that time in the NCAA men’s basketball season, too. After securing the top projected seed last week, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have dropped to No. 2, although that is hardly a sad situation for the perennial Pacific Northwest powerhouse.
Remember, this is about more than just wins and losses, for not all records are created equally. Using advanced metrics, we’ve calculated this Top 16 very carefully and as objectively as possible. We take into account actual performance, offensive and defensive efficiency, road record, schedule strength, and overall team production.
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. We had 34 teams under consideration this week.
Here we go, in order, with new teams in the rankings denoted by an asterisk (*):
- Kansas (23-3)
- Gonzaga (26-1)
- Duke (22-3)
- San Diego State (26-0)
- Baylor (23-1)
- Dayton (23-2)
- Maryland (21-4)
- Michigan State (17-9)
- Louisville (21-5)
- Penn State (20-5)
- Ohio State* (17-8)
- Arizona (18-7)
- West Virginia (18-7)
- Florida State (21-4)
- Seton Hall (18-7)
- Michigan* (16-9)
On the cusp: Colorado, Texas Tech, Creighton, Villanova, Houston, Marquette, BYU, Kentucky, Oregon
The B1G is flexing its collective muscle here, with five teams projected into our Sweet 16 seedings. This is where the strength of schedule, sabermetrically speaking, and not media rankings matter. Remember, you just have to ignore the Associated Press and USA Today polls.
Here is how we would seed these 16 teams regionally, based on the upcoming regional sites for the 2020 tournament, with the top-four seeds getting geographic advantage(s):
- Indianapolis: No. 1 Kansas, No. 8 Michigan State, No. 9 Louisville, No. 16 Michigan
- Los Angeles: No. 2 Gonzaga, No. 7 Maryland, No. 10 Penn State, No. 15 Seton Hall
- New York: No. 3 Duke, No. 6 Dayton, No. 11 Ohio State, No. 14 Florida State
- Houston: No. 4 San Diego State, No. 5 Baylor, No. 12 Arizona, No. 13 West Virginia
This is interesting as we see the Bears fall off the top line yet remain close to home in the Houston regional since the Aztecs defaulted to the location as the lowest No. 1 seed. Also, it’s hard to avoid potential B1G matchups in two of the regionals, since the conference is so strong and well represented in these projections.
Using the offensive and defensive efficiency balance is the best way to project a tourney champion, and right now, the top tier of potential champs include Duke, Kansas, and San Diego State. The second tier entirely made up of B1G teams: Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State.
Stay tuned every Tuesday of the season for updated projections!