The NCAA Tournament committee will release its top 16 seeds as it sees the field Saturday afternoon – four weeks prior to Selection Sunday – and things could change hours after the reveal.
What college basketball fan doesn’t love the drama surrounding Selection Sunday? Unveiling the bracket is at least half the fun of the entire March Madness experience. The NCAA had us right where it wanted us.
Then it decided to diminish that rush with a made-for-TV sham.
Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET on CBS, the NCAA Tournament committee will reveal its top 16 seeds as it currently sees it heading into that day’s action. It’ll do this leading up to the selection show a month later. And I couldn’t be more disappointed that the NCAA Tournament is trying to do something College Football Playoff-like when the format wasn’t broken to begin with.
Aside from ruining some tradition, the show will be broadcast when Florida and West Virginia – two teams quite possibly included in the committee’s top 16 – are in action. If you’re wondering if those rankings could be completely worthless by day’s end, you’re right. There’s a full slate of games and potential upsets waiting to happen. And we won’t get to find out if the committee changed its mind about a particular team until one week later.
Join me in hoping this is made-up event is a bust and we only have to deal with it this year.
Will St. Mary’s Test Gonzaga?
Gonzaga is still rolling at 25-0 and sitting at No. 1 in the AP Top 25 without getting much of a challenge. And that includes the first meeting with No. 20 St. Mary’s, which is the Bulldogs’ best competition in the West Coast Conference.
The Zags dominated the Gaels in a 79-56 win Jan. 14 in Spokane and looked like the far superior team. St. Mary’s has had its struggles lately and shot only 30.6 percent in a win over WCC bottom feeder Portland the other night.
Can the Gaels utilize the rocking crowd in their small gym and rattle the Zags? They did it last year.
Lonzo Ball outshined Dillon Brooks on Thursday night, leading UCLA to an 82-79 win over Oregon after overcoming a 19-point second-half deficit. The Ducks couldn’t hang on for another convincing victory over a Pac-12 contender after crushing Arizona last Saturday, and they’ll now head to USC looking to snap the Trojans’ five-game winning streak.
Speaking of the Wildcats, they’re again alone atop the conference with an 11-1 mark in Pac-12 play. However, they weren’t very impressive in a win over Stanford this week and have to face a surging Cal team that has won five straight games Saturday night.
Don’t Forget About the AAC
Cincinnati might be one of the most overlooked teams in the country. The Bearcats are 22-2, 11-0 in the American Athletic Conference and ranked No. 11 in the AP Top 25, but few seem to be talking about them as a team that could make a deep NCAA Tournament run. They’ve won 15 straight since losing at Butler on Dec. 10 and have a solid player in N.C. State transfer Kyle Washington, who is averaging 13.8 points per game to lead four players in double figures.
Cincinnati might get its toughest Sunday when it travels to Texas to face No. 25 SMU. The Mustangs are also likely to make the NCAA Tournament, as the currently are 21-4 with an 11-1 conference record. That only loss was a tough 66-64 setback at Cincinnati on Jan. 12 as Sterling Brown wasn’t able to get a heave off before the buzzer.
Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye is SMU’s catalyst, and the Bearcats-Mustangs matchup might be one of the better games of the weekend.
In this section each week I pick five games against the spread that I’d put smart money on. I then keep a running record throughout the season. These picks will consist of games taking place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Here’s a look at what I have this week:
Season record: 21-26-3
Last week: 0-5 (ouch)
- Duke (-16) over Pittsburgh (L)
- Kentucky (+2.5) over Florida (L)
- Illinois State (+10) over Wichita State (L)
- Arizona (+3.5) over Oregon (L)
- Arkansas (-8) over Missouri (L)
- Kansas (-4) over Texas Tech
- Gonzaga (-3) over St. Mary’s
- Villanova (-4) over Xavier
- Creighton (-10) over DePaul
- Minnesota (-6) over Rutgers