So now that we know the NCAA Men’s Tournament Select Committee’s 16 Favorite Teams — at the moment, anyway — how do you describe this concoction that’s been put in the oven to cook a little more before it’s ranked for real in three weeks?
Look at the ingredient label, of course.
This parenthesis reveals include . . .
- 56 percent non-champions. Nine of the 16 – including the top three in Alabama, Houston and Purdue – have never won a title.
- 18.75 percent Final Four programs without. Alabama, Tennessee and Xavier have never made it this far. The state of Iowa was there once, in 1944. Texas was there once in 75 years. Kansas State hasn’t been in 58 seasons, Purdue in 42.
- A seed no. 1 who has never, ever seen such a thing before. That would be the Alabama Crimson Tide, who are the top seed projected across the entire dance floor. Forty-nine different schools have previously been a No. 1 seed. 1, but never the tide. They appear to be warming to the idea, trashing Georgia 108-59 on Saturday, a result that reminded us of two things: Alabama is on a surprising shot and this is not a football season.
- A team that was picked to finish ninth in its conference. Marchetta.
- A team that was picked to finish last in its conference. state of Kansas.
How is the 68 field chosen?
- 93.75 percent of the current top 16 teams in the Associated Press poll. In other words, 15 out of 16. Sorry Miami, you’re the weird Hurricanes outside.
- 31.25 percent teams from the Eastern Time Zone. That’s unusually low, since good ol’ EST — or EDT, as the title is decided in April — has produced 21 of the last 24 National Champions. This is what happens when the likes of Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, and Villanova don’t appear on this list. But while the East went 21 for 24, the Central zoners of the Big 12 topped the league’s final two night standings with Kansas and Baylor.
- 31.25 percent Big 12. That’s five teams and all five are in the top 12. The Big 12 has as many names on this list as the Big Ten, ACC, and SEC combined. The NCAA’s philosophy is to maintain highly seeded conference teams in different regions, but that probably won’t be possible given the Big 12 tsunami in the bracket.
- 18.75 percent Far Western. In other words UCLA, Gonzaga and Arizona. Now would be the time to mention that it has been 26 years since the last champion arrived from the west, Arizona in 1997.
- A reigning champion. Kansas is a No. 1 seed, and the Jayhawks watched every inch of it on Saturday as they beat Baylor 55-26 in the second half. If this continues, this would be the 16th time I’ve been tied for No. 1, trailing only North Carolina’s record 17. The other three seeds in the bracket reveal — Alabama, Houston and Purdue — have four all-time No. 1s combined.
- 12.5 percent teams that started the season with new coaches. Xavier and Sean Miller, Kansas State and Jerome Tang.
- 6.25% of teams that took on a new manager in December. Texas with interim Rodney Terry taking over after Chris Beard was suspended and subsequently fired.
- 18.75 percent Lone Star Staters: Houston, Baylor and Texas.
- 12.5 percent of teams miss power conferences, if you throw the Big East into the power pile with the usual five. Gonzaga and Houston remain.
- 50% of coaches who have participated in a Final Four.
- 18.75% of coaches who have made a Final Four with another program: Marquette’s Shaka Smart via VCU, Houston’s Kelvin Sampson with Oklahoma, and Tennessee’s Rick Barnes with Texas.
- 6.25 percent of teams that once had the NCAA selection committee chairman in their lineup. Bradley administrator and committee chairman Chris Reynolds served as point guard for Indiana’s 1992 Final Four team.
- 25% of teams that had losing records in February: Iowa State, Kansas State, Tennessee and Purdue. But they play in tough leagues, so they’re forgiven. Especially Purdue, which has lost three of its last four games but is still a No. 1 seed.
- 25% of teams who lost in the group on Thursday or Saturday reveal the weekend. Purdue, Tennessee, Baylor, Iowa State, although the latter two were beaten by other group members. Additionally, Texas narrowly escaped Oklahoma in overtime, and Virginia needed one last stop to edge Notre Dame by two runs, both at home. Nothing offers much safety this season, and that includes NCAA preview brackets.
LEADERBOARDS: See the full top-16
- 25 percent of the Final Four last April. No Duke, NC or Villanova. Kansas only.
- 100 percent of the last three national champions: Kansas, Baylor and Virginia.
- 0 percent of schools that won the previous 10 titles leading up to Virginia in 2019. In fact, only four of the last 25 national championships are represented among the 16. A rather unconventional college basketball season is what this range suggests. But that was revealed a long time ago.
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