By Michael Donovan

Selection Sunday is still a month away, and here are our picks for the top seeds:

NCAA Tournament Projection: No. 1 seeds

Villanova, Gonzaga, Kansas, Baylor

Villanova (23-2): Pom/RPI: 5/2. vs. RPI top 25: 4-1. vs. RPI top 100: 15-2
Gonzaga (25-0): Pom/RPI: 1/10. vs. RPI top 25: 3-0. vs. RPI top 100: 7-0
Kansas (21-3): Pom/RPI: 9/3. vs. RPI top 25: 3-0. vs. RPI top 100: 13-3
Baylor (21-3): Pom/RPI: 8/1. vs. RPI top 25: 3-1. vs. RPI top 100: 13-3

Villanova has a resume that’s good enough to remain on the top seed line even if the Wildcats suffer a hiccup or two along the way to Selection Sunday. Both of Villanova’s losses came vs. at-large-worthy teams, the Wildcats have outstanding strength-of-schedule numbers (26th overall, 52nd non-con by Pomeroy), and they have wins away from home against Purdue, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Creighton and Providence.

Gonzaga might not have as many Top 100 wins as some of the other No. 1 seed contenders, but that’s a West Coast Conference thing. The Zags beat Arizona, Florida, Iowa State, Tennessee, San Diego State and Akron during the non-conference portion of the schedule. Oh, and there’s the whole undefeated thing.

Big 12 teams Kansas and Baylor are both solidly on the top seed line, too, with a handful of elite wins and a ton of high-quality victories against solid teams.

NCAA Tournament Projection: No. 2 seeds

Louisville, Florida State, Arizona, Virginia

Louisville (19-5): Pom/RPI: 3/4. vs. RPI top 25: 3-4. vs. RPI top 100: 10-5
Florida State (21-4): Pom/RPI: 13/6. vs. RPI top 25: 5-1. vs. RPI top 100: 13-4
Arizona (22-3): Pom/RPI: 22/9. vs. RPI top 25: 1-3. vs. RPI top 100: 10-3
Virginia (18-5): Pom/RPI: 2/14. vs. RPI top 25: 2-2. vs. RPI top 100: 12-5

The top four resumes are pretty clear, and this is where the waters start to muddy. Quite honestly I’m fascinated to see how the committee splits hairs between the teams on the 2-3-4 seed lines, and which teams are left out of this little sneak peak. Let’s start with Louisville. You see the outstanding computer numbers for the Cardinals, who beat Kentucky, Purdue and full-strength Indiana during the non-conference schedule. They’ve struggled a bit on the road in ACC play (2-3 record), but the losses at Florida State and Virginia came without point guard Quentin Snider, who will be back soon. That matters. Florida State played a mediocre-at-best non-con schedule, topped by a very solid home win against Florida. But coach Leonard Hamilton’s team has excelled in ACC play, starting with an incredibly impressive win at Virginia and including wins against Duke, Louisville, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Speaking of Virginia, the Cavaliers have played a much tougher schedule than FSU and have an outstanding true road wins vs. Louisville, Notre Dame, California and Clemson. The committee loves those. As for Arizona, it’s nearly impossible to choose between the top three Pac-12 teams; the Wildcats, Oregon Ducks and UCLA Bruins. We’re going with Arizona slightly ahead of the mix here because they won at UCLA, and also because their two narrow non-con losses came vs. elite teams (Butler and Gonzaga) and also without star Allonzo Trier, who is back playing. That matters.

NCAA Tournament Projection: No. 3 seeds

North Carolina, Oregon, UCLA, Kentucky

North Carolina (21-5): Pom/RPI: 10/5. vs. RPI top 25: 2-2. vs. RPI top 100: 13-5
Oregon (21-4): Pom/RPI: 19/11. vs. RPI top 25: 2-2. vs. RPI top 100: 10-3
UCLA (22-3): Pom/RPI: 18/21. vs. RPI top 25: 2-2. vs. RPI top 100: 9-3
Kentucky (19-5): Pom/RPI: 7/13. vs. RPI top 25: 2-4. vs. RPI top 100: 10-5

We’ll start with the two Pac-12 teams. Oregon started the season just 2-2, but star Dillon Brooks didn’t play against Baylor and was obviously limited in his 13 minutes off the bench in the loss to Georgetown. With him back in the lineup, the Ducks rattled off a 17-game winning streak (he sat out in a win vs. Stanford, though). The dominating home win against Arizona was certainly impressive, and they would have been a No. 2 seed today if they hadn’t let a 15-point second-half slip away in a loss to UCLA on Friday. And that win is why UCLA is on the 3-seed line today; the Bruins are an elite offensive team but they’ve struggled on defense most of the year. Resume-wise, they played a mostly awful non-conference schedule (rated 295th by the Pomeroy formula) but they did record the country’s splashiest win in December, when they went into Rupp Arena and beat Kentucky, 97-92. Thing is, until the Oregon win, that UK victory stood alone as UCLA’s only one against an at-large lock. North Carolina would have been a No. 2 seed with a win at Duke on Thursday; it’s not that it was bad for the Tar Heels to lose the game, but it was a missed opportunity to record an elite road win. UNC could still potentially rise up to a No. 1 seed if other teams slip up, because they still have a bunch of resume opportunities ahead (two vs. Virginia, home vs. Louisville and Duke). Kentucky doesn’t have that No. 1 seed chance at this point. The Wildcats are still very legitimate title contenders, but they just don’t have enough elite wins/opportunities to get any higher than a No. 2 seed.

NCAA Tournament Projection: No. 4 seeds

Duke, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Purdue

Duke (19-5): Pom/RPI: 15/19. vs. RPI top 25: 1-3. vs. RPI top 100: 9-4
Wisconsin (21-3): Pom/RPI: 12/18. vs. RPI top 25: 1-3. vs. RPI top 100: 12-3
Cincinnati (22-2): Pom/RPI: 20/15. vs. RPI top 25: 2-1. vs. RPI top 100: 8-2
Purdue (20-5): Pom/RPI: 11/20. vs. RPI top 25: 2-3. vs. RPI top 100: 11-5

Duke presents a complicated picture for the committee, because the Blue Devils have only had their full contingent of players/coaches for a handful of games. Grayson Allen has missed the Virginia Tech loss. Amile Jefferson missed the Louisville and Florida State losses. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski missed the Louisville, FSU and N.C. State losses. How much will the committee weigh those absences? We’ll find out Saturday. Wouldn’t surprise me to see Duke as high as a No. 3 seed or not in the top four seeds at all. Wisconsinhas a shiny record, sits atop the Big Ten standings and only has losses to elite teams (UNC, full-strength Creighton and Purdue), but the Badgers have zero elite wins. Heck, they have zero wins against at-large locks (Minnesota/Marquette are the best, but not locks yet); their resume is built around wins vs. bubble teams — Wisconsin has 13 wins vs. teams ranked 30-94 in the Pomeroy formula. That’s not the resume of a top-two seed. Fellow Big Ten team Purdue has better wins than Wisconsin (Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Maryland and Northwestern) but the Boilermakers also have a couple of questionable road losses (at Nebraska and Iowa). Cincinnati doesn’t have a ton of quality wins, but the Bearcats have only two losses (Butler and Rhode Island) and high-quality wins vs. Xavier, SMU and at Iowa State. Their ceiling is probably a No. 3 seed right now, though a combination of continued winning and slip-ups from the team above could result in a No. 2 seed by Selection Sunday.

Other teams in contention …

Butler (19-5): Pom/RPI: 23/8. vs. RPI top 25: 4-2. vs. RPI top 100: 15-3
West Virginia (19-5): Pom/RPI: 4/33. vs. RPI top 25: 3-0. vs. RPI top 100: 8-4
Florida (19-5): Pom/RPI: 6/7. vs. RPI top 25: 1-4. vs. RPI top 100: 12-5
Creighton (20-4): Pom/RPI: 24/17. vs. RPI top 25: 4-2. vs. RPI top 100: 10-4
Maryland (20-4): Pom/RPI: 35/22. vs. RPI top 25: 1-1. vs. RPI top 100: 12-3

Butler has a ton of quality wins, but for now the losses to Indiana State and St. John’s keep the Bulldogs out of the top four seeds. Butler will be an intersting good-win/bad-loss litmus test for the committee. West Virginia has the elite wins (vs. Kansas, Baylor and Virginia), but the Mountaineers played a mostly awful non-con schedule (ranked 342nd of 351 teams by the Pomeroy formula) and that’s a tough hill to climb in the committee’s mind, especially when you add in losses to two teams out of the bubble picture (Temple and Oklahoma). Florida has outstanding computer numbers and a great strength of schedule, but only one win against an at-large lock (home vs. Kentucky). Wouldn’t be surprised if the Gators are a No. 4 seed on Saturday. For Creighton, it will be interesting to see how the committee views the Bluejays’ body of work with and without point guard Mo Watson, Jr., who’s out for the season with a knee injury. The win at Butler on Jan. 31 was huge for them, proving they can still beat really good teams even after Watson’s injury. Losing at Penn State on Tuesday definitely keeps Maryland out of the top 4 seeds for now; the Terps are a good team with a shiny record but thin resume.

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