NCAA Tournament bracketology: Gonzaga will again be top overall No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday

Shelby Mast and Scott Gleeson
USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga made quick work of Saint Mary's in Tuesday's West Coast Conference tournament final, cruising for an 82-69 victory. It served as revenge over a Gaels squad that upset the Bulldogs at the end of last month for its only WCC loss. 

This isn't the dominant 'Zags team that nearly went undefeated last year and is arguably the best Mark Few has coached. But this version of Gonzaga (26-3, 13-1 WCC, No. 1 NET ranking) is just as capable of cutting down the nets in April. Also a factor this year: there is no team that's as good as last year's Baylor team that won it all, so Few's first national title is within reach.

As such, the Bulldogs' credentials will reflect the fact that they're the favorite to win it all as the top overall seed in March Madness for a second consecutive year. No matter what fellow No. 1 seeds Baylor or Arizona do in the Big 12 and Pac-12 tourneys, respectively, Gonzaga's got the top seed secured. 

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Gonzaga Bulldogs celebrate after defeating the Saint Mary's Gaels after the game in the finals of the WCC Basketball Championships at Orleans Arena.

Gonzaga's three losses were all Quadrant 1 (top-25 home, top-75 away) and its latest win over Saint Mary's counts as a Q1 (top-50 neutral court) victory to give Gonzaga 10 Quad 1 wins — more than last season's team entering the NCAAs. Only Baylor (11) has more and that's because the Bears played in the toughest conference in the country (ranking first in NET score rankings). The West Coast Conference did Gonzaga's résumé favors with the potential for four teams reaching the NCAAs and ample opportunity to bolster the Quad 1 box by winning against those foes on the road.

Despite not being undefeated like last year's team entering the tournament, Gonzaga's profile is just as good and it doesn't have the pressure of a perfect season going into March Madness.

No. 1 seeds

Gonzaga, Baylor, Arizona, Auburn. 

Last four in

Wyoming, Xavier, Wake Forest, SMU.

First four out

Dayton, VCU, BYU, Indiana. 

Next four out

Saint Louis, Florida, Saint Bonaventure, Santa Clara.

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Others considered for at-large bids: St. Johns, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Colorado.

On life support: Richmond, Mississippi State, Virginia, Virginia Tech.

Multi-bid conferences: Big Ten (8), Big East (7), Big 12 (6), SEC (6), ACC (5), Mountain West (4), American Athletic (3), Pac-12 (3), West Coast (3).

Leaders or highest NET from projected one-bid conferences - (22 total)A10 - Davidson; America East - Vermont; Atlantic Sun - Jacksonville; Big Sky - Montana State; Big South - Longwood; Big West - Long Beach State; CAA - Delaware; C-USA - North Texas; Horizon - Wright State; Ivy League - Princeton; MAAC - Iona; MAC - Toledo; MEAC - Norfolk State; Missouri Valley - Loyola-Chicago; Northeast - Bryant; Ohio Valley - Murray State; Patriot - Colgate; Southern - Chattanooga; Southland - Nicholls State; SWAC - Alcorn State; Summit - South Dakota State; Sun Belt - Georgia State; WAC - New Mexico State.

  • Ineligible schools: Oklahoma State (banned), Cal Baptist, North Alabama, Merrimack, Dixie State, Tarleton State, Bellarmine, UC San Diego, St. Thomas.

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NCAA Tournament language explainer:

  • NET stands for the NCAA Evaluation Tool, which is the barometer for the selection committee. It includes game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin (capping at 10 points per game), and net offensive and defensive efficiency.
  • Quadrant 1 wins: Home games vs. 1-30 NET teams; Neutral-site games vs. 1-50 NET; Away games vs. 1-75 NET
  • Quadrant 2 wins: Home games vs. 31-75 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 51-100 NET; Away games vs. 76-135 NET
  • Quadrant 3 wins: Home games vs. 76-160 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 101-200 NET; Away games vs. 136-240 NET
  • Quadrant 4 wins: Home games vs. 161-plus NET; Neutral-site games vs. 201-plus NET; Away games vs. 241-plus NET

Note: Most statistical data is used from WarrenNolan.com. The NET rankings (NCAA Evaluation Tool) also are a reference point. 

About our bracketologist: Shelby Mast has been projecting the field since 2005 on his website, Bracket W.A.G. He joined USA TODAY in 2014. In his ninth season as our national bracketologist, Mast has finished as one of the top three bracketologists in the past eight March Madnesses. He’s also predicted for The Indianapolis Star, collegeinsider.com and is an inaugural member of the Super 10 Selection Committee. Follow him on Twitter @BracketWag.

About our college basketball reporter: Scott Gleeson has covered men's college basketball for USA TODAY since 2012, contributing to bracketology and running Bubble Tracker before tackling everything March Madness following Selection Sunday. He correctly forecasted Virginia would win the national championship in 2019 before the season began and also picked Loyola-Chicago as a Cinderella mid-major in 2018. Follow him on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.