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The NCAA Tournament selection committee released its early top 16 seeds as if the bracket were to be set Saturday and there were no surprises at the top. Like nearly everyone, except voters in the Associated Press Top 25 and Coaches Poll I suppose, the committee has Purdue as the overall No. 1 seed, followed by reigning champion UConn at No. 2, Big 12 leader Houston No. 3 and Pac-12 front-runner Arizona as the No. 4 overall seed.

Purdue is the top seed primarily because it has the most Quad 1 wins, tied with UConn and Houston, and has the most wins in Quads 1 and 2 combined. It isn't just the Boilermakers' number of Quad 1 and 2 wins that gives them the edge though, but the quality of those victories. Not all Quad 1 wins are the same. The Boilermakers are 6-0 against teams in the committee's top 16 and have played only one of those games at Mackey Arena.

What was surprising to NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee Chair Charles McClelland was that the vote was unanimous on those four teams in that order. That had not happened before in his five years on the committee, he said.

North Carolina led the No. 2 seed, followed by Tennessee, Marquette and Kansas. McClelland said that the placement of the Tar Heels, which have lost three of their last five games, was an example of how the committee does not overreact to recent results. Teams are evaluated on their entire season and how they have done recently is not weighted more than how they played earlier.

The No. 3 seeds featured teams largely expected to be in that group – Alabama, Baylor, Iowa State and Duke. I had Auburn ahead of the Blue Devils. The case for Duke is that their best wins are clustered in Quad 1, while the Tigers' are mostly in Quad 2. Both teams played Baylor at a neutral site and Duke won, while Auburn lost.  It has definitely taken a better team to beat the Tigers than the Blue Devils.

For the final line, the committee gave us Auburn, San Diego State, Illinois and Wisconsin as No. 4 seeds. The Badgers were my biggest miss and is another example of not letting recency bias get in the way of decision making. I had South Carolina as a No. 4 seed. The committee considered the Gamecocks along with Creighton, Dayton and Clemson for a spot in the top 16.

NCAA official early top seeds

Check out Palm's latest bracket, Bubble Watch and full field of 68 at the Bracketology hub.

Building the bracket

The committee also placed the teams in a bracket as it will do when the real bracket is revealed on Selection Sunday. Teams going into the bracket in seed order and are placed to the available region closest to their campus. However, there are three rules when it comes to bracketing the top 16. Teams from the same conference must be in different regions unless there are more than four from a conference. The No.1 overall and the No. 5 overall cannot be in the same region, and the regions need to be reasonably balanced. The committee adds up the overall seed numbers in each region and if the highest and lowest are no more than six apart, that is considered good enough. In this bracket, they hit the max with the West adding up to 37 and Midwest at 31. 

And, as always, none of this means anything in terms of what the bracket will look like in March. There is a month to go before Selection Sunday and a lot can happen between now and then.

Top 16 seeds in order

1Midwest 1Purdue21-22
2East 1UConn20-23
3South 1Houston19-31
4West 1Arizona17-54
5East 2North Carolina18-49
6Midwest 2Tennessee16-56
7South 2Marquette17-512
8West 2Kansas17-410
9South 3Alabama16-65
10Midwest 3Baylor15-515
11East 3Iowa State16-511
12West 3Duke16-519
13West 4Auburn18-48
14Midwest 4San Diego State15-520
15South 4Illinois17-514
16East 4Wisconsin16-613