Virginia suffered a surprising home loss to unranked Virginia Tech, ending its winning streak at 16 games.
But one recent defeat was not enough to sway the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee. The Cavaliers are still viewed as the best team in the country a month before Selection Sunday.
Virginia was the top overall seed in preliminary NCAA Tournament rankings released on Sunday, a day after losing to the Hokies. Villanova, Xavier and Purdue earned the other No. 1 seeds. No. 24 Kentucky and Louisville were not among the committee’s top-16 teams.
“Virginia’s a dominant defensive team, but they’re much better offensively than they’ve been,” committee chair and Creighton Athletics Director Bruce Rasmussen said during the selection show. “They have a great strength of schedule and they’re 10-1 from home.”
This year, the committee is using a new quadrant system that gives more weight to wins on the road and neutral courts.
Virginia, No. 2 in The Associated Press poll, would play in Atlanta as the No. 1 seed in the South, a region that includes Cincinnati, Michigan State and Tennessee.
Villanova, the No. 2 overall seed, tops the East Region in Boston with Duke, Texas Tech and Ohio State.
Xavier was the top seed in the Midwest Region, joined by Auburn, Clemson and Oklahoma in Omaha.
Purdue, despite losing both of its games last week, is No. 1 in the West Region with Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona in Los Angeles.
The rankings could certainly change before the field of 68 is selected on March 11 with more than 1,000 games yet to be played.