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Villanova Bracket Watch: Wednesday Update

Shifts on the four seed line set up two big rematches.

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 25 Div I Men’s Championship - Elite Eight - Team v Team Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Everyday until Selection Sunday, we’re applying the NCAA Tournament Seeding guidelines to the Bracket Matrix to see where Villanova will land. Be sure to check back daily for the latest!


Even the calm before the storm has a few elements of shifting and changing, and today’s bracket watch is no different. There hasn’t been too much change at the top of the seeding tree, but down on the 4 seed line things got reworked a little bit. The result (if everything went chalk) would set up some fantastic revenge game scenarios from the non-conference with Villanova smack dab in the middle.

Villanova Bracket Watch: 3/9 Update

Regions South West Mid-West East
Regions South West Mid-West East
1 Seeds Baylor (1) Gonzaga (2) Arizona (3) Auburn (4)
2 Seeds Kentucky (6) Villanova (8) Kansas (5) Duke (7)
3 Seeds Wisconsin (11) Tennessee (10) Purdue (9) Texas Tech (12)
4 Seeds Providence (15) UCLA (14) Arkansas (16) Illinois (13)

Seeding Rules That Caused Shifts

  • Kentucky can’t be in the East because of Auburn
  • Tennessee can’t be in the East because of Auburn
  • Texas Tech can’t be in the South because of Baylor, switches with Wisconsin
  • Illinois can’t be in the Mid-West because of Purdue
  • Arkansas can’t be in the South because of Kentucky, switches with Providence

Overall True Seed Changes Since Yesterday

  • Tennessee (10): Up One
  • Wisconsin (11): Down One
  • Illinois (13): Up Two
  • Providence (15): Down Two

Impact on Villanova

Yesterday’s bracket already set up a possible Villanova vs Tennessee rematch, but today also brings the rematch that would have everyone talking about the West Region, Gonzaga and UCLA. I think that makes this the perfect time to talk about some of the additional bracketing rules, and specifically who Villanova can or can’t face at different stages of the tournament.

  1. Each of the first four teams selected from a conference shall be placed in different regions if they’re placed on the first four lines. For Villanova this mainly applies to Providence and UConn. Assuming Providence doesn’t play itself out of a Top 4 seed, or if UConn plays itself into one, this means that they’ll be in a different region from Villanova and wouldn’t be able to meet until the Final Four. If they’re a 5 seed or below, they won’t be kept out of Villanova’s region simply because they’re in the Big East.
  2. Teams from the same conference shall not meet prior to the regional final (Elite Eight) if they played each other three or more times during the regular season and conference tournament. - This will apply to anyone Villanova faces in the Big East Tournament. So for example, let’s say Seton Hall upsets UConn and then faces Villanova on Friday night in the Garden. This would then exclude Seton Hall from being put on Villanova’s half of the same Regional Bracket. So in our example above, if Nova’s the 2 Seed in the West, Hall couldn’t be the 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, or 15 Seed in the West because it could result in them playing again before the Elite Eight.
  3. Teams from the same conference shall not meet prior to the regional semifinals if they played each other twice during the regular season and conference tournament. - As we said yesterday, Villanova is practically a lock to be playing in Pittsburgh for the first and second rounds. This rule ensures that they won’t face any Big East teams while they’re there. So in our example where Villanova is the #2 Seed in the West, no Big East team would be able to be the 7, 10, or 15 Seed in the West.
  4. Any principle can be relaxed if two or more teams from the same conference are among the last four at large seeded teams participating in the First Four. - Let’s call this the Xavier rule. Unless Villanova jumped to a 1 seed or fell to a 4 seed, this probably doesn’t apply to them as the at-large teams in the First Four have always been 12 seeds. That said, that’s where a lot of bracketologists have Xavier right now. What this means is that the above rules, or any other for that matter, can be ignored to make the last few teams fit into the tournament. Building the bracket comes after picking which teams get in, so they’re not going to kick a team out just because they may have already played the 5 Seed.
  5. To recognize the demonstrated quality of such teams, the committee shall not place teams seeded on the first four lines at a potential “home-crowd disadvantage” in the first round. - Let’s say for funsies that somehow Pitt made the tournament as a 15 seed. This rule would prevent them from being placed in Pittsburgh as Villanova’s first round opponent. For those of you worried about what this means for Nova’s chances at getting placed in the East Region, don’t worry it only applies to the first round.
  6. Teams will remain in or as close to their areas of natural interest as possible, as determined by mileage from campus to the venue. A team moved out of its natural area will be placed in the next closest region to the extent possible. If two teams from the same natural region are in contention for the same bracket position, the team ranked higher in the seed list shall remain in its natural region. - This is a BIG one, so I left in the full text. The whole philosophy I’ve been using around predicting the regions and seeding the first four lines of the bracket has mainly been around this seeding principle. It’s also why it will be so hard for Villanova to get to the East Region as a #2 Seed. In order for that to happen, they’d have to pass at least two of the teams directly in front of them. The reason is that the four teams ahead of them in true seed (Auburn, Kansas, Kentucky, and Duke) all have Chicago as their primary choice, but Philly as their secondary. So unless Nova get’s up to #6 in True Seeding, it’s highly unlikely they wind up in Philly.
  7. A team will not be permitted to play in any facility in which it has played more than three games during its season, not including exhibitions and conference postseason tournaments. - This is why Nova only plays three games at the Wells Fargo Center during seasons when Philly is a host site for the tournament. Villanova follows the rules here, so there’s no reason for the committee not to place them in the East.
  8. After the top four seed lines have been assigned, the committee will review the relative strengths of the regions by adding the “true seed” numbers in each region to determine if any severe numerical imbalance exists. Generally, no more than five points should separate the lowest and highest total. - This is a little behind the scenes math I’ve been running with each iteration of the bracket watch, and so far we haven’t run into any problems. For today’s bracket, we had South=33, West=34, Mid-West=33, East=36.
  9. If possible, rematches of non-conference regular-season games should be avoided in the First Four and first round. - So if Howard or Mount Saint Mary’s win their conference titles, they can’t play Nova as the 15 Seed.

That’s not all the rules, but it’s the ones that should have the greatest impact on Villanova and their potential path through the bracket. And if you don’t want to ever think about these again, don’t worry, Bracket Watch is here to do that for you! Stay tuned each day as we apply the latest adjustments from conference tournaments and continue the countdown to Selection Sunday!