Based on Friday’s results, I believe the No. 1 seeds for next week's NCAA tournament -- and their order -- are now set. It’s the earliest in a championship weekend that I can remember the top line of the bracket resolving itself.
Let’s break it down:
The Wildcats are the last team standing among our No. 1 seed contenders. As such, no one directly behind them has an opportunity to pass the defending national champions. Heading into Saturday’s Big East title game, the Villanova seniors are a remarkable 127-16 (.888). That includes an 11-2 record against the top 50 this season, best in the nation.
In terms of seeding, the selection committee historically values regular-season championships over conference-tourney titles. In Carolina’s case, the Tar Heels were outright winners of the nation’s best conference. They might have lost two of three to archrival Duke, but the Heels were three games better than the Blue Devils over an 18-game ACC schedule.
I slot the Jayhawks right behind North Carolina on the basis of UNC advancing deeper in the ACC tourney than Kansas did in the Big 12, losing on Day 1 to No. 8 seed TCU. Even with that defeat, the Kansas résumé is nearly impeccable, and the Jayhawks will be rewarded with their seventh No. 1 seed in the past 11 seasons.
If I were king of the world (and let’s be thankful that's not the case), the Zags would be No. 1 overall (the same way they are No. 1 in the KenPom rankings). But the committee had the Bulldogs at No. 4 overall last month in its sneak preview of the top seeds, and that was when Gonzaga was still undefeated. The order of No. 1 seeds should matter least to Gonzaga, though, as its landing spot as the top seed in the West Region has been seemingly predetermined for weeks.
There will be a groundswell, of course, for the Pac-12 tournament winner (Oregon, Arizona or UCLA) to supplant one of the four teams listed above. Given every significant metric -- RPI, schedule strength, top-50 wins -- none of the three can realistically get to the top line. Instead, the West Region’s second seed awaits, with the only real difference being the color of the uniforms in a projected West final against Gonzaga.