Getting Set For March

Derek Dimino, Staff Writer |

For the first time in March Madness history, the selection committee revealed the top 16 seeded teams (top four seeds in each of the four regions) in the tournament prior to the March 12 “Selection Sunday” tradition. The March Madness selection committee is made up of ten members who are athletic directors at major universities, such as Michigan State, Duke, Creighton and Northeastern, to name a few. While we will have to wait until mid-March to get the remainder of the 68 teams in the tournament, the 16-team reveal will hold us over until the overwhelming excitement and camaraderie fill our appetites.

For the men’s tournament, Villanova, Baylor, Kansas, and Gonzaga took the first seeds in each of the respective regions. While it’s unlikely that any of the first seeds will lose in the first round (as it’s never happened in March Madness tournament history), having the selection of the top 16 teams well before the end of the regular season leaves much room for improvement or decline for each program before the tournament starts.

Baylor went 20-1 in the first 21 games of the season, and has since lost four of the last six games (1-2 since they were selected as first seed). Because the top four seeds in each region are fixed, Baylor may be a second or third seed-worthy team by the time the tournament rolls around, but will still hold the first seed advantage.

Reigning champion, Villanova was chosen as the top overall first seed, jumping top-polled Gonzaga. Villanova has had an extremely tough schedule, only losing a close one to Marquette and an early-season game to Butler.

After an uncharacteristic loss to Iowa about a month ago, Kansas has turned on the jets, fighting past fellow first-seeded, Baylor, twice. If Kansas can keep up the pace and hit the ground running going into the first round, an elite eight appearance is inevitable.

In the Women’s tournament, the selection committee concluded on UConn, Baylor, South Carolina, and Mississippi State as the decisive first seeded teams in each region.

With undefeated UConn on a record-breaking 101-game win streak, it was clear they would be the unanimous top ranked first seed in the tournament. This accord was not uniform throughout the first seed though, as many thought Maryland was snubbed a top seeded position.

Maryland, the second ranked team in the country and first ranked team in the Big 10, was 24-1, only losing to top-ranked Connecticut by six points, before the selection committee made their top four seeding decisions. The Committee chose Maryland as a third seed, and ninth overall, for a reason that is entirely unclear. Maybe Maryland’s strength of schedule is not what the committee was looking for, or the committee doesn’t hold the BIG 10 conference to the caliber that they do the SEC or BIG 12. Regardless, it seems like the most unjustified seeding of any of the teams.

While the early selection of the 16-teams may leave a lot of room for error by the time the tournament starts, the early selection release builds up anticipation and excitement. Where most college basketball fans usually get into the Basketball-all-day mindset only a few days before the tournament starts on Selection Sunday, the early selection of 16-teams gives the fan more time to build up the hype and prepare for the colossal sporting event.

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