Where will UVA be when the brackets are revealed today? Here's what we know:
Kentucky will be the #1 overall seed and will be placed in the Midwest region. Villanova will very likely receive the second #1 seed and take a spot in the East region. After that, things get dicey. The remaining two #1 seeds will probably go to two of UVA, Wisconsin, and Duke.
Looking at BracketMatrix.com's projections, Duke is a #1 seed in 79% of brackets, UVA in 67%, and Wisconsin in 48%. (Arizona nabs a 1 in 7%, and Gonzaga in one lonely bracket). With Wisconsin still having an opportunity to make an impression with a win over Michigan State today, it's probably close to a toss-up between UVA and Wisconsin, with Duke having the inside track.
Notably, ESPN's Joe Lunardi has flip-flopped a bit during Championship Week. Before Friday night's ACC Semifinal matchups, Joey Brackets had a Kentucky-UVA-Duke-Villanova-Wisconsin pecking order. After the games, he adjusted his top line to drop UVA all the way to 5th on the S-Curve (the top #2 seed), while Villanova jumped to second, and Duke remained at #3, despite notching a similar loss as UVA's. Why? He explained, in a tweet:
The Selection Committee takes injuries into account when selecting the NCAA Bracket. Though Justin Anderson will be playing in the Big Dance, Lunardi appears to have cryptically suggested that his performance in the ACC Tournament, during which he was clearly still hampered by his injured hand, will give the Committee pause. With Anderson such an important part of the team and UVA picking up two of their three losses in the past two weeks, I wouldn't be surprised if much of the conversation in the room involves how to treat a Virginia team with a limited (but available) Justin Anderson.
We can compare resumes all we want, and it's tough to argue that Virginia doesn't have the resume of a #1 seed. But the decision will probably come down to a more qualitative discussion. If the Committee seeds the team at #2, it probably means that they just don't think that UVA right now is the same team as the won that dominated through the first two-thirds of the year.
The next question: Do we want a #1 seed if it's in the West? Assuming that the race for the final two #1 seeds comes down to UVA/Duke/Wisconsin in some order, the committee's top pick of the three will head to the South region, and their next pick will be the #1 seed in the West.
Jerry Palm's bracket at CBS has Virginia as the third overall seed, headed to the South regional in Houston along with #2 Gonzaga. If we can't be in the East, that'd be a great spot for Virginia.
If we end up as fourth on the seed list (and the final #1 seed), Virginia's destination would be the West regional, far from home (and the Wahoo fanbase) in LA, where #2 Arizona (also #2 in the nation on KenPom) would await. That's where SBNation's Bracketology has Virginia.
Joe Lunardi, who has UVA fifth on his seed list and thus the top #2 seed, sends Virginia to the East Regional in Syracuse along with #1 Villanova. Though Charlottesville is technically closer to Cleveland's Midwest regional (where Kentucky awaits), the NCAA's "Principles and Procedures for Selecting the Bracket" never uses proximity as the sole geographic determinant:
Teams will remain in or as close to their areas of natural interest as possible. 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.
Rather, if UVA is the first #2 seed, they would be placed "as close to their area of natural interest as possible." There's no reason this wouldn't be in Syracuse rather than Cleveland. (Especially if it's in our 'natural interest' to stay as far away from Kentucky as we can.)
In order of preference, here's mine:
First: We get the #3 overall seed, and end up as the 1-seed in the South
Second: We get the #5 overall seed and take the 2-seed in the East
Third: We get the #4 overall seed, and are shipped out West as the 1-seed
Fourth: We drop to the 2-line....but actually end up in Kentucky's Midwest region because of the Committee's geography obsession.
I'm going to go out on a bit of a limb and predict that we end up as the 1-seed in the South. I'm intrigued by Joe Lunardi's sudden switch, since it's possible he is basing it on some insider info, but I think the Committee ultimately gains comfort that a full-strength UVA will show up next week and place us at #3, where our resume probably has us. What say you guys?