A Baylor team that received zero preseason top 25 votes will find out their path to a Final Four. There are a few things I’m looking at in the bracket reveal. We’ll also Facebook live at 7:00 to break it down.
This normally doesn’t matter a ton because the difference between a No. 2 seed or a No. 3 seed—the likely two potential seeds for Baylor—is not high. But the one main difference is that the Committee often places at least one pretty solid team on the 14-line. Those upsets are still fairly rare, but the quality of the best No. 14 seed—when looked at by metrics like KenPom—is often far higher than a No. 15 seed.
With that said, more No. 2 seeds have lost recently. Michigan State fell last season as a No. 2 seed, and Florida Gulf Coast made a run to the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed. My guess is that the Bears end up the highest overall 3-seed or the lowest No. 2 seed. Oregon may drop a seed line because of the injury to Chris Boucher. That could move Baylor up to the final No. 2 seed.
For weeks, Baylor looked like they’d open in Tulsa. That still seems likely. The first and second round sites can move regardless of what region a team receives. So, if Baylor heads to the East Region, they can still open in Tulsa. It’d be surprising if the Bears do not open in Tulsa.
Baylor could be in nearly any regional site. The least likely seems to be the Midwest because Kansas is likely to be the 1-seed in that region. The Committee does not place two teams from the same conference in the top 4 seed-lines, unless bracketing principles make that necessary.
When looking ahead to potential Elite Eight games, I would prefer Baylor not end up in North Carolina’s region. To me, the worst of all worlds would be if North Carolina drops to a No. 2 seed and Baylor gets a 3-seed. The Tar Heels are giant and a good rebounding team. That can neutralize some of what Baylor does well.
Ultimately, location is less important unless the Bears face a lower seeded team playing far closer to home. That seems very unlikely with Baylor receiving at least a tie for the best seed in program history.
Quality Teams Early:
There are a few teams that will be seeded drastically lower than advanced metrics indicate. The obvious team is Wichita State. They are now the #8 team on KenPom. The Shockers have size on the perimeter, and the best offense in the Gregg Marshall era. If the Committee seeds them as an 11-seed, then the Shockers would probably be favored not only in an opening game, but likely in a game against a No. 3 seed as well. Here’s hoping Wichita State is not slated to play Baylor in the first two rounds.
The flip side of under seeded teams is that a few teams will be over-seeded. A few brackets have Baylor scheduled to play Maryland. While the Bears could lose that game, the Terrapins are going to be vastly over-seeded in comparison to advanced metrics and even some traditional seeding criteria. The ideal scenario would be getting a No. 2 seed and then having Maryland as the potential No. 7 seed.