The Big East has three co-champions in the regular season this year in Villanova, Creighton and Seton Hall.
All three are in the mix to secure a No. 2 seed on Selection Sunday, with Villanova’s résumé holding the slight edge over the other two. Depending on what happens during conference tournaments this week, these Big East teams could see a favorable draw and even leapfrog ACC regular-season champ Florida State at the No. 2 line.
While the Big 12 is all but locked to notch two No. 1 seeds with Kansas and Baylor, the Big East could be the ultimate winner of Selection Sunday. The league led the country in NET score by a mile and will likely have seven of its 10 teams to the NCAA tournament. That’s made the conference’s three champions battle-tested and primed to advance deep into brackets as the they teams own a combined 28 Quadrant 1 wins.
In non-conference play, the Wildcats (24-7, 13 NET) handed Kansas one of its two losses, the Bluejays (24-7, 11 NET) beat tourney teams Arizona State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech, and the Pirates (21-9, 15 NET) topped Maryland. Factor in that the Big East’s middle-of-the-pack teams in Providence, Butler, Xavier and Marquette are all safe enough to evade the bubble on Selection Sunday.
So look for the Big East to be a winner on both Selection Sunday and the NCAA tournament’s first weekend. And don’t be surprised if half the Elite Eight teams hail from the Big East.
► No. 1 seeds (in order): Kansas, Baylor, Gonzaga, Dayton.
► Last four in: Texas Tech, Richmond, Stanford, North Carolina State.
► First Four out: Cincinnati, UCLA, Northern Iowa, Texas.
NCAA tourney explainer:
- Quadrant 1 wins: Home games vs. 1-30 NET teams; Neutral-site games vs. 1-50 NET; Away games vs. 1-75 NET
- Quadrant 2 wins: Home games vs. 31-75 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 51-100 NET; Away games vs. 76-135 NET
- Quadrant 3 wins, losses: Home games vs. 76-160 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 101-200 NET; Away games vs. 136-240 NET
- Quadrant 4 wins, losses: Home games vs. 161-plus NET; Neutral-site games vs. 201-plus NET; Away games vs. 241-plus NET
Others considered for at-large bid (in order): Memphis, Arkansas, Saint Louis, Rhode Island, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Purdue.
On life support (in no particular order): Tulsa, Notre Dame, Syracuse.
Multi-bid conferences: Big Ten (10), Big East (7), Pac-12 (6), Big 12 (5), ACC (5), SEC (4), West Coast (3), Atlantic 10 (2), American Athletic (2), Mountain West (2).
Leaders or highest RPI from projected one-bid conferences — (22 total): America East – Vermont, Atlantic Sun – Liberty, Big Sky – Eastern Washington, Big South – Winthrop, Big West – UC Irvine, Colonial – Hofstra, Conference USA – North Texas, Horizon – Wright State, Ivy – Yale, MAAC – Siena, MAC – Akron, MEAC – North Carolina Central, Missouri Valley – Bradley, Northeast – Saint Francis (Pa.), Ohio Valley – Belmont, Patriot – Colgate, Southern – East Tennessee State, Southland – Stephen F. Austin, SWAC – Prairie View A&M, Summit – North Dakota State, Sun Belt – Little Rock, WAC – New Mexico State
- Transition schools ineligible to participate: Cal Baptist, North Alabama, Merrimack.
- Banned from participating: Georgia Tech, Detroit.
Note: Mostly all statistical data is used from WarrenNolan.com. The NCAA’s NET rankings are also a reference point.
About our bracketologist: Shelby Mast has been projecting the field since 2005 on his website, Bracket W.A.G. He joined USA TODAY in 2014. In his seventh season as our national bracketologist, Mast has finished as one of the top three bracketologists in the past six March Madnesses. He’s also predicted for The Indianapolis Star, collegeinsider.com and is an inaugural member of the Super 10 Selection Committee. Follow him on Twitter @BracketWag.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.