That’s no longer just speculation — we know that for sure, as the NCAA men’s basketball committee released its top 16 teams Saturday afternoon on CBS.
Nevada is the other team from a mid-major conference included in the top 16. The Wolf Pack landed as a 4 seed and the 14th overall team, headed to the South Region. Nevada was not sent to the West, despite Anaheim being much closer to Reno, because the committee needed to ensure that ACC schools would be kept apart from each other and Louisville could not play on its own home court.
The full top 16 can be seen here:
#MarchMadness Top 16 Seeds!— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 9, 2019
7. North Carolina
8. Michigan State
13. Iowa State
16. Wisconsin#BracketPreview pic.twitter.com/XBYwOm8uqs
Gonzaga earned its 1 seed (for now) by piling up good wins in the non-conference and not slipping up in WCC play. The Zags are 22-2 overall with their best win coming over Duke in the Maui Invitational. They also own quadrant 1 wins over Washington, at Creighton, and at San Francisco. They are 4-0 in quad 2 games and their only two losses are in quad 1, one on a neutral court (Tennessee) and the other on the road (North Carolina).
Gonzaga also ranks second nationally in the NET.
As for Nevada, its resume is a little tougher to figure out. The Wolf Pack have no quad 1 wins, but are 8-0 in quad 2 games, are 11-1 away from home, and are 22-1 overall. They are ranked 15th in the NET, putting them right in the range of a 4 seed.
Nevada’s placement bodes well for other mid-major teams that may need to rely on an at-large bid. It shows that the committee is not basing its decisions solely in a way that would favor Power 5 schools with far more opportunities to beat top-tier teams. A high NET ranking could come into play for teams like Lipscomb and Wofford if they get knocked off in their conference tournaments.
Selection Sunday is five weeks from tomorrow. This. Is. February.