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Forget NCAA’s early rankings, tourney committee starts over

NCAA Basketball Tournament Selection Committee Meets In Manhattan

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 8: Led by committee chairman Mark Hollis, the NCAA Basketball Tournament Selection Committee meets on Wednesday afternoon, March 8, 2017 in New York City. The committee is gathered in New York to begin the five-day process of selecting and seeding the field of 68 teams for the NCAA MenÕs Basketball Tournament. The final bracket will be released on Sunday evening following the completion of conference tournaments. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) The NCAA selection committee has started sorting out which teams will appear in the NCAA Tournament field on Selection Sunday. Just don’t expect it to simply be an update of the top seeds announced last month.

“We are starting anew, meaning today is a restart of our season-long evaluation of teams,” selection committee chairman Mark Hollis said during a Wednesday teleconference. “It’s not a refresh of the work we did nearly four weeks ago.”

The committee began what Hollis called “Day One of Selection Week” from New York, four days before the field of 68 is announced. That comes roughly a month after the NCAA released in-season preliminary rankings of the top 16 seeds for the first time, which listed Villanova as the overall No. 1.

Hollis, Michigan State’s athletic director, noted roughly 1,300 games have been played since the NCAA followed the College Football Playoff’s lead by releasing in-season rankings Feb. 11. He said committee members were submitting their first ballots to vote teams into the field Wednesday afternoon.

“We still kind of term it as the PSAT, where what we’re starting today at 1 o’clock is the SAT,” Hollis said of last month’s rankings. “This is the real test.”

The first rankings of the top four seeds in each region had Kansas, Gonzaga and Baylor joining Villanova as No. 1 seeds. Three Atlantic Coast Conference teams - North Carolina, Louisville and Florida State - joined Oregon as No. 2 seeds.

Of that group, the top-ranked Jayhawks and second-ranked Wildcats still look solid for a No. 1 seed. The fourth-ranked Zags, who enter the tournament at 32-1, are still contending for a top seed as well, though the No. 9 Bears likely have slid off that line entering this week’s Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri.

The sixth-ranked Tar Heels were the top No. 2 seed last month and are contending for a No. 1 entering the ACC Tournament after winning the regular-season race by two games.

“If you watched the CBS show, you saw me crumple up a sheet of paper at the end of the show,” Hollis said. “That was the end of that process from the committee’s perspective.”