There are some distinct groups separating themselves in this week’s rendition of Top 16 projections for the high seeds in the NCAA Tournament next month. To clarify, the different between the 16th and 17th teams below is profound—as is the difference between the 21st and 22nd schools.

What this means is that games are taking on more significance, and the cream is rising to the top of the pile. There was more shuffling in the Top 16, of course, and with just two weeks left in the major-conference, regular-schedules, we are just three weeks out from Selection Sunday.

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 35 teams under consideration this week.

Here we go, in order, with new teams in the rankings denoted by an asterisk (*):

  1. Kansas (25-3)
  2. Baylor (24-2)
  3. Gonzaga (27-2)
  4. Duke (23-4)
  5. San Diego State (26-1)
  6. Dayton (25-2)
  7. Michigan State (18-9)
  8. Arizona (19-8)
  9. Maryland (22-5)
  10. Louisville (23-6)
  11. Florida State (24-4)
  12. West Virginia (19-9)
  13. Ohio State (18-9)
  14. Texas Tech* (18-9)
  15. Creighton* (22-6)
  16. Villanova* (21-6)

On the cusp: Michigan (18-9), BYU (23-7), Seton Hall (20-7), Houston (21-7), Oregon (21-7)

Remember, you just have to ignore the Associated Press and USA Today polls. They go by record only, which means next to nothing, clearly. As noted above, there is a considerable gap in our projections between the Wildcats and the Wolverines, and there is a big gap between the Ducks and the Penn State Nittany Lions. Go figure.

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 Arizona, No. 9 Maryland, No. 16 Villanova
  • Houston: No. 2 Baylor, No. 7 Michigan State, No. 10 Louisville, No. 15 Creighton
  • Los Angeles: No. 3 Gonzaga, No. 6 Dayton, No. 11 West Virginia, No. 14 Texas Tech
  • New York: No. 4 Duke, No. 5 San Diego State, No. 12 Florida State, No. 13 Ohio State

The Bears, even with their loss to Kansas at home, moved back into the top line, albeit still in the Houston Regional. The Los Angeles Regional looks like fun as is, with the Red Raiders perhaps ready to make another Final Four run. All in all, this shapes up to be a great Sweet 16, really.

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 still remains full with Duke, Kansas, and San Diego State. The second tier is Baylor and Michigan State—with Michigan sneaking in there, too, strangely enough.

How does that happen? Well, the efficiency balance is based on all games and all outcomes, and both Michigan (7-7 in games decided by single digits) and (even more so) Michigan State (4-7) have been extremely unlucky in games outcomes this year, while the two teams’ overall performance has been excellent—just like most of the B1G, actually, by far the best conference top to bottom in the country this season.

Stay tuned every Tuesday of the season for updated projections!