If there’s one stand-alone takeaway (here’s ten) from the first leg of the NCAA tournament, it’s that inexact seeds are not a reliable barometer for how teams stack up.
The selection committee badly bungled the bracket, leaving some regions saturated with heavyweights, others diluted and seeding a hodgepodge of inaccuracy across the board.
The best three teams still standing aren’t all No. 1s. The worst three aren’t necessarily double-digit seeds. Lend the committee a do-over to rectify the bracket in light of the first three rounds and the picture would look appreciably different.
But the selection board doesn’t get a second chance. It so badly flubbed its first opportunity that it doesn’t deserve another. Busting Brackets has opted to bear the burden itself, re-ranking the teams 1 through 16 on the basis of overall team quality and performance.
Note, this is NOT an evaluation of the hottest teams remaining in the field. Such an undertaking would favor a team like Arizona, which overpowered a pair of frail, double-digit seeds. The “what have you done for me lately” thinking would also overvalue a team like Ohio State, which hasn’t lost since February 17 after knifing through the Big Ten tournament.
What’s more, this is NOT a ranking of the 16 teams from most likely to cut down the nets to least. That lens would penalize teams from the Midwest Region for having the toughest path to Atlanta while rewarding Ohio State and Florida because their intra-region resistance is much lighter.
Instead, look at this list as a holistic assessment of the teams judging by tournament performance, roster strength, overall body of work and recent trends. Were the teams to play an organized round robin this week, we’d expect the final standings to mirror the following: