The Sports XchangePosted with permission from The Sports Xchange
Villanova, the defending college basketball national champion, was selected as the No. 1 overall seed by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, which for first time revealed the top 16 seeds one month ahead of Selection Sunday.
Kansas, Baylor and Gonzaga also would be the four No. 1 seeds if the NCAA Tournament started today, the committee announced Saturday in the unprecedented unveiling.
North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville and Oregon earned No. 2 seeds, with Kentucky, Arizona, Virginia and Florida the No. 3 seeds, and UCLA, Duke, West Virginia and Butler the No. 4 seeds.
Using a new policy adopted last summer, the committee asked Villanova for its preferred regional location, and the Wildcats selected the East regional in New York City. The other No. 1 seeds were assigned to regional sites using geographic proximity from their campuses.
Kansas, the second-ranked team on the overall seed list, was sent to the Midwest regional in Kansas City, while fellow Big 12 Conference member Baylor was the top seed in the South regional in Memphis. The fourth No. 1 seed, unbeaten Gonzaga, was assigned to the West regional in San Jose.
"Those four teams are having tremendous seasons but as we know in college basketball, things can change quickly," said committee chair Mark Hollis, the athletic director at Michigan State. "There are more than 1,300 games left before Selection Sunday so how these teams are seeded and where they will ultimately be sent to play in the tournament remains a mystery."
Wisconsin, currently ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll, and No. 11 Cincinnati are noticeable omissions from the committee's top 16 seeds.
The No. 2 seeds also were assigned sites: North Carolina in the South regional; Florida State in the Midwest; Louisville in the East; and Oregon in the West.
"While the committee has conducted this orientation meeting for several years, the new element of publicly releasing our top 16 teams significantly added to the discussions this week," Hollis said. "If nothing else, this week's meeting will help us prepare for the next month, perhaps more so than before. We had terrific conversations about these 16 teams, plus others such as Cincinnati, Creighton, Purdue and Wisconsin, who were on the verge of being a first quadrant team.
"This was a productive and useful exercise, but now the committee can get back to the work we started Nov. 11 and continue evaluating all possible tournament teams."
Hollis is joined on the committee by other athletic directors: vice chair Bruce Rasmussen (Creighton), Mitch Barnhart (Kentucky) Janet Cone (North Carolina Asheville), Tom Holmoe (Brigham Young). Paul Krebs (New Mexico), Bernard Muir (Stanford), Peter Roby (Northeastern), Jim Schaus (Ohio) and Kevin White (Duke).
The actual bracket will be unveiled on CBS Sunday, March 12. March Madness tips off March 14-15 with the First Four in Dayton. First- and second-round games will take place Thursday and Saturday (March 16 and 18) in Buffalo, Milwaukee, Orlando and Salt Lake City, and Friday and Sunday (March 17 and 19) in Greenville (S.C.), Indianapolis, Tulsa and Sacramento.
The Midwest and West regionals will be played March 23 and 25, while the East and South regionals will take place March 24 and 26. The 79th Final Four will be played in Phoenix April 1 and 3.