Villanova, the reigning college basketball national champion, was selected as the top overall seed by the NCAA tournament selection committee as part of the first-ever March Madness bracket preview show on Saturday on CBS.
The committee ranked the Top 16 teams as they currently stand based on the same procedures they'll use to make the 68-team field on Selection Sunday, which is set for March 12. Kansas, Baylor and Gonzaga were chosen as the other regional No. 1 seeds.
Here's a look at the complete list of choices the group made with one month before the Big Dance takes hold of the national sports spotlight:
|2017 NCAA Tournament: Bracket Preview Show Results|
|Seed||Region||Team (Overall Rank)|
|2||Midwest||Florida State (6)|
|2||South||North Carolina (5)|
|4||West||West Virginia (14)|
NCAA March Madness passed along the bracket view:
Although 'Nova landed in the No. 1 overall spot over top-ranked Gonzaga, it didn't necessarily lead to an "easy" section of the draw. Howie Lindsey of Cardinal Sports showcased an East region that features four storied programs:
David Gardner of Sports Illustrated wasn't shocked Villanova received top billing despite being ranked second in both major polls right now:
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have emerged as a championship contender by rattling off 25 consecutive wins to open the campaign, but they only earned the No. 4 overall spot from the committee. Their toughest remaining test of the regular season comes Saturday night when they take on No. 20 Saint Mary's in Moraga, California.
In January, Jim Meehan of the Spokesman-Review passed along comments from longtime Zags head coach Mark Few, who had no interest in "looking at March or late February" as the team moved toward the top of the Associated Press and USA Today polls.
"We've done it here before," Few said. "This group has done an excellent job of just focusing on the process and trying to get better week to week and not really focusing on stuff we can't control."
While his feelings are probably similar following Saturday's release of the bracket preview, it does put the team in a slightly less promising position. Gonzaga may not have as much margin for error in terms of a top seed as it likely seemed before the release.
The one legitimate gripe about the announcement is the lack of concrete information regarding bubble teams. All of the teams placed in the bracket Saturday are virtual locks for the tournament, so listing the Top 16 seeds didn't provide a lot of groundbreaking information.
Showcasing the full 68-team field or at least a "Last Four In" and "Last Four Out" portion could have generated a little more drama and conversation.
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis, the current chairman of the selection committee, explained to Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated why they didn't feel comfortable making those type of bracket predictions at this stage of the process.
"I don't want us to do anything that could be seen as an assumption or a projection," Hollis said. "If you do that, you become a bracketologist, not a committee member."
Hollis also preached caution to Davis when it comes to reading too much into why certain teams are ranked ahead of others right now, and how that could impact those bubble decisions in March.
"Coaches want the magic formula, but that's not something that can be delivered," he said. "As we go through the teams and get to the last few spots, the criteria never changes, but the reasons for our decisions might change. That's something we're going to have to be careful about explaining."
So that leaves a lot of guessing for teams on the tournament fringe heading into the stretch run of the regular season. Numerous high-profile programs, including Syracuse, Michigan State and Michigan, are part of that fight for the final handful of spots. At least for now.
Of course, the alternative option is getting an automatic bid by winning a conference tournament. Otherwise, there will be a lot of nervous moments come Selection Sunday for teams that are accustomed to playing deep into the NCAA tournament.