The final USTA Top 25 of the regular season came out today with the Florida women remaining at No. 1 while the Virginia men replaced Wake Forest as the new men's No. 1. Virginia defeated Wake Forest in the ACC Championship Final on Sunday to finish the regular season 28-1 while Wake Forest finished with a 27-2 record. Georgia, Oklahoma, and Mississippi State made the biggest jumps on the men's side with Georgia coming up five spots to No. 8 after defeating Mississippi State in the SEC Championship Final, Oklahoma came up four spots to No. 10 after defeating Texas at the Big 12 Tournament, and Mississippi State came up four spots after defeating South Carolina and Texas A&M to advance to the SEC Championship Final.
There was very little movement on the women's side largely due to the SEC and its nine ranked teams finishing up the week before last. Texas Tech came up two spots to No. 7 after winning the Big 12 Championship and USC came up two spots to No. 21 after defeating Washington State and Arizona State in the Pac-12 Tournament. UCLA took the biggest tumble by falling five spots to No. 23 after losing to Oregon at the Pac-12 Tournament.
The Illinois men entered the top 25 while Northwestern dropped out and the Oregon and Rice women entered while LSU dropped out.
I looked at the men's bracket last night now I'll take a look at the women's bracket. Florida, which has been No. 1 all season, was named as the No. 1 seed with North Carolina grabbing the No. 2 despite finishing No. 4 in the final rankings which will be published on Thursday. If the committee would have gone solely off ranking then Ohio State would have been No. 2, Vanderbilt No. 3, and North Carolina No. 4. The other change came at No. 6 with Texas Tech jumping Stanford despite Stanford having almost a 3 point lead in the ITA rankings. It's also interesting to note that all five of these changes revolved around Power 5 Conference Champions.
Usually teams are moved if there are head-to-head results between them but we don't see teams moved too often when there isn't a direct line H2H. I reached out to Marie Scovron, NCAA's Assistant Director of Championships and Alliances, and she told me that while ITA ranking is used they also looked at other criteria such as strength of schedule, record against common opponents, and wins over NCAA teams.
The 2017 NCAA Tournament field was announced earlier today and there really weren't any surprises compared to what I was expecting. ACC regular season champion Wake Forest was named as the top seed with the Demon Deacon's half of the draw having all four Pac-12 hosts, both SEC hosts, and fellow ACC member North Carolina. Virginia, which is the two-time defending NCAA champion, drew the No. 2 seed and in their side of the draw they have all five Big 12 hosts, the lone midwest host (Ohio State), and Florida. Even though TCU is the No. 6 seed I think most would agree they are one of the best four teams in the country so in essence Virginia's side of the draw has three of the top four teams in the country.
Stanford edged out Michigan as the final regional host but Michigan got sent to Stanford as the No. 2 seed so they'll have a chance to decide it on the court in two weeks (that's assuming Michigan defeats Valparaiso which isn't a given).
The selection committee followed the final ITA rankings in all but two instances. Oklahoma State finished ranked No. 10 and Texas No. 11 but the Horns got seeded higher. The teams split two meetings during the season but Texas had one more win against a top 50 opponent and also had three wins over teams that Oklahoma State lost to while Oklahoma State had two wins over teams Texas lost to. The other change came at No. 12 and No. 13 where Texas A&M jumped Georgia due to the regular season head-to-head win in College Station.
The final spot in the field went to Washington despite the Huskies finishing with a 1-7 record down the stretch. Washington was actually ranked one spot behind Portland but Washington got the nod due to an early season 6-1 win over Portland in a match that was much closer than the final score.
The top seeds made their mark over the last three weekends with 21 of 30 conference tournament winners having a 1 in front of its name. The only conference that didn't have a conference tournament was the Ivy League. Dartmouth finished in a three-way tie with Cornell and Harvard but the Big Green got the nod via a tiebreak. There were 18 repeat champions with only Vanderbilt and Furman able to win the tournament on its home court. The longest shot to win a conference tournament was South Florida. The Bulls entered the AAC Tournament as the No. 7 seed but they knocked No. 10 Temple, No. 2 Tulane, No. 3 SMU, and then No. 1 Tulsa to win the title. Down below I have the breakdown by seed along with the list of each conference champion.
The last of the conference tournaments finished up on Sunday so we now know the 31 automatic qualifiers. The only conference that didn't have a conference tournament was the Ivy League. Columbia finished in a three-way tie with Cornell and Harvard but the Lions got the automatic bid due to having the highest ITA ranking in last week's rankings. Down below I have a breakdown of the conference tournament winners by seed which show us that the top seed won in 19 of 30 (63%) tournaments - as a point of reference last year it was 18 of 30 (60%). There were 14 repeat champions and there was only one host, Florida Gulf Coast, that defended its turf. FGCU was also tied with San Diego as the highest seeds to win a conference tournament.