The NCAA Selection Committee peeled back the curtain Saturday to allow for the first time a glimpse of its inner workings a month ahead of the big reveal.

Showcased were the top 16 seedings for the NCAA tournament as the committee evaluated them when it met this month. Of course, these are subject to change, but the committee gave Villanova the No. 1 overall seed. Kansas, Baylor and Gonzaga followed.

Some could argue that as the lone undefeated team the Bulldogs shouldn’t be the last No. 1 seed, but strength of schedule is a major factor here.

Missing from the early bracket peek were Big Ten teams, most notably Wisconsin.

The Badgers are 21-3, sitting atop the conference standings and ranked seventh in the Associated Press Top 25. So what’s the deal?

Again, it’s the schedule.

As well as they have played and for all of their potential, the Badgers have only two top-50 RPI victories (Minnesota and Tennessee). Nine of their triumphs are over opponents outside the top 100, including five ranked between No. 270 (Central Arkansas) and No. 348 (Florida A&M). Their strength of schedule, according to bracketology, is 72nd nationally.

The so-called "eye test" isn’t helped either by Wisconsin’s need for overtime to defeat lesser opponents Nebraska and Rutgers.

Compare that to Duke, the 16th team to get the nod. The Blue Devils (20-5) have six top-50 victories and are 26th in strength of schedule, though they also have nine wins outside of the top 200.

Wisconsin can make up some ground with a victory against Maryland next Sunday. A game against someone such as Purdue in this final stretch would also help the Badgers’ profile, but the Boilermakers don’t appear on the schedule so there is no additional quality win available. Winning its final three road games could enhance Wisconsin’s resume.

Purdue (20-5) could have some gripes. The Boilermakers have five top-50 victories and six more against top-100 teams. They’re 4-3 on the road and beat Wisconsin at home.

But again, it’s clear they need to keep collecting victories if they want to be bumped up into a region’s top four.

If the bracket looks this way on Selection Sunday, it would be the first time since 2004 the Big Ten was shut out of the top 16, according to ESPN.

The committee’s message was clear: Big Ten teams, you had better start to impress.

(Shannon Ryan) Top 16 seeds

AP ranking in parentheses


1. Villanova (1)

2. Louisville (7)

3. Kentucky (12)

4. UCLA (15)


1. Kansas (2)

2. Florida State (6)

3. Arizona (9)

4. Duke (16)


1. Baylor (3)

2. North Carolina (5)

3. Florida (11)

4. Butler (13)


1. Gonzaga (4)

2. Oregon (8)

3. Virginia (10)

4. West Virginia (14)

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