MADISON – With another 20-win season already under its belt and 12 wins over the RPI top 100, Wisconsin is a near lock to make its 19th straight N.C.A.A. tournament. On Saturday, the Badgers found out how that their body of work still has to improve in the eyes of the tournament selection committee.
Revealing the current top-16 teams prior to selection Sunday for the first time in the tournament’s 79 years, the selection committee did not announce the Badgers - or any Big Ten teams - as one their selections.
Defending national champion Villanova is listed as the overall number one seed. Kansas, Baylor and Gonzaga are the other number one seeds in order. The twos (in order) are North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville and Oregon. No.3 seeds are Arizona (9), Virginia (10), Florida (11) and Kentucky (12). Butler is the top overall four seed followed by West Virginia, UCLA and Duke.
Wisconsin is ranked seventh in the Associated Press poll and fifth in the coaches poll, but the Badgers’ computer numbers are lacking behind.
Wisconsin ranks No.18 in the RPI but have a strength of schedule of 105 and are 2-3 against the RPI top 50. UW’s two best RPI wins are currently an overtime win at Minnesota (21) and against Tennessee (33) in a neutral site. The Gophers are currently on the tournament bubble at 17-7 but the Vols are just 13-10.
On the flip side none of Wisconsin’s three losses – vs. North Carolina (4), at Creighton (17) and at Purdue (19) – are considered bad losses. UW is also 17-1 since Thanksgiving.
Wisconsin will have several more chances to add quality wins to its resume. Of the Badgers’ final seven conference games, six opponents have a top 75 RPI, including five in the top 50.
The Badgers host Northwestern (18-6, 7-4) tomorrow night. The Wildcats are No.42 in the RPI.
The show was the brain child of the selection committee looking to capitalize of the success of the weekly college football playoff show that released its top 25 teams on a weekly basis.
While Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard understands the motive for the show, he pointed out how quickly things can change. A prime example was six top-10 teams losing last Saturday.
“It will be ever changing,” Gard said, previously. “It'll be great for fan interest and stirs conversations. In terms of our approach, it doesn't change. We don't watch the rankings or talk about rankings. We just try to move forward one at a time. Take care of those in order and you'll be where you're supposed to be at the end.”