One or two?
That was the question for Gonzaga and Baylor – and a lot of college basketball fans – before the NCAA Tournament selection committee showed its homework and revealed its top 16 seeds Saturday on CBS.
Committee chair Mitch Barnhart said there was “no mystery” before announcing Gonzaga as the top overall seed, followed by Baylor, Michigan and Ohio State. Barnhart later noted it was “razor thin” for the top spot.
“We cannot argue this one,” CBS basketball analyst Clark Kellogg said. “Gonzaga is high-octane offensively. They’ve been good for a decade and a half under (coach) Mark Few and clearly this is one of his best teams. Versatility offensively is what’s most impressive about this group.”
Now, can the Zags stay there until Selection Sunday on March 14?
“It would be interesting to me if Baylor is able to run the table and also go into the tournament undefeated, they’ll have more Quad 1 wins than Gonzaga,” CBS’s Seth Davis said. “They could potentially overtake them in about a month’s time.”
The debate will go on, of course, since the Dec. 5 head-to-head meeting was called off in response to COVID-19 issues in Gonzaga’s program. This is the fifth year of the bracket reveal show, and nine of 12 projected No. 1 seeds eventually stayed on the first line. Gonzaga was considered a lock as a one seed last year, but the tournament was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Zags are the top seed in Region 1, followed by Alabama, Oklahoma and Iowa. That would set up a potential GU-Iowa rematch in the Sweet 16. The Zags defeated the Hawkeyes 99-88 on Dec. 19 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The committee’s top four seeds in Region 2: Baylor, Illinois, Tennessee and Texas. Michigan, Houston, West Virginia and Missouri are Region 3’s top four. In Region 4, it’s Ohio State, Villanova, Virginia and Texas Tech.
Top seeds usually remain close to home for the first two weeks of the tournament, but that won’t be the case this time. The entire tournament will be held in the Indianapolis area. Dan Gavitt, senior vice president of NCAA basketball, said “player guests” will be permitted at tournament games. He’s hopeful a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend.
Teams will be administered COVID-19 tests for seven consecutive days prior to arriving in Indianapolis and there will be daily PCR testing upon arrival.
What happens if a player or coach tests positive in Indianapolis?
“We have procedures in place that should not eliminate the team from the entirety of the tournament as long as they maintain that physical distancing and they’re wearing masks and not having prolonged close contact,” he said. “That team should be able to move on safely and continue to compete.”
Gavitt also weighed in on conference tournaments, a hot topic because of the risks and rewards they potentially pose, particularly to NCAA Tournament-bound squads. The West Coast Conference men’s and women’s tournaments are scheduled for March 4-9 in Las Vegas, but discussions continue at the conference level.
The NCAA is giving conferences until Feb. 26 to decide whether its regular-season or tournament champion receives an automatic bid to March Madness. Conferences and universities will determine if tournaments are played, Gavitt said, but the committee “encourages” that all teams participate if they do stage an event.
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