Gonzaga, Baylor top NCAA committee's initial rankings

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FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2021, file photo, Gonzaga coach Mark Few huddles with his team during a timeout in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pacific in Stockton, Calif. Few isn't being asked questions about where his team should be seeded for next month's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Instead, the longtime coach is getting a different question with a little more than a month until Selection Sunday does it make any sense for Gonzaga to compete in its conference tournament? (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Gonzaga and Baylor have played like the nation's best teams all year. The committee that will ultimately select the field of 68 for the NCAA Tournament sees it that way, too.

The Bulldogs were the No. 1 overall seed followed by the Bears in rankings released Saturday by the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee. It was part of a snapshot of the top 16 seeds with a month to go before Selection Sunday, starting with the teams that have been 1-2 in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll all season and remain unbeaten.

“No mystery here," Kentucky athletics director and committee chairman Mitch Barnhart said. “There's two teams that have been amazing all year.”

Third-ranked Michigan and fourth-ranked Ohio State followed as the other two No. 1 seeds, while fellow Big Ten team Illinois was the top No. 2 seed and fifth overall.

The Big 12 had the biggest haul in this initial list with five teams. Beyond Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma were No. 3 seeds, while Texas Tech and Texas were No. 4s.

Villanova, Alabama and Houston joined Illinois as the other No. 2 seeds. Virginia and Tennessee joined the Mountaineers and Sooners as No. 3 seeds, while Iowa and Missouri were the other No. 4 seeds.

This first run of seedings comes amid postponements and pauses for teams due to concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the cancellation of last year's tournament. The Wolverines are a notable example; they're returning from a three-week hiatus Sunday.

Barnhart said “no one is going to be penalized for being on pause.” He also pointed back to traditional evaluations such as winning on the road, citing challenges such as following testing protocols while traveling even while playing in venues with few or no fans.