Ask any coach whether he'd rather be highly ranked in the polls or highly seeded in the NCAA tournament, and he'll take the high seeding quicker than an LIU fast break. So we've convened a panel of media experts across the country to act as a kind of tournament selection committee. Each week panel members will vote as if the season had ended that Sunday. They'll select the top seeds for the four NCAA regions and tip off SI readers as to who the true title contenders are, because only three times since seeding began in 1979 has a fifth seed or lower won the NCAA championship.
This week's results are noteworthy for their near unanimity. North Carolina, Duke and Kansas were on almost every ballot as No. 1 seeds, in the East, South and Midwest, respectively. Arizona and Utah split the vote for No. 1 in the West, with Stanford getting the support of a couple of voters, so the committee chair gave the nod to the defending champs.
The most tenuous seeds, of course, are our No. 4s, which barely outpolled other notable teams like New Mexico, Michigan and surprising Oklahoma State, still undefeated at week's end. The team most on the bubble is probably Princeton (page 62), which has a high enough RPI rating to justify a fourth seed—at least for now. In the coming weeks that number is bound to drop, even as the Tigers keep winning, because their all-Ivy diet will undermine their strength-of-schedule ranking.
1. North Carolina