Bracket Watch: Tigers enter weekend as ACC's top projected seed


by - Staff Writer -
Simms and the Tigers are well-positioned going into the rest of the ACC slate. (ACC photo)
Simms and the Tigers are well-positioned going into the rest of the ACC slate. (ACC photo)

We're still a couple of months from NCAA Tournament action in Indianapolis, but Brad Brownell's Tigers are well-positioned going into a home matchup with No. 18 Virginia Saturday (6 p.m./ESPN).

Clemson moved into sole possession of the top ranking in the ACC this week by the Associated Press, vaulting seven spots to No. 12 after a 9-1 start (3-1 ACC).

KenPom's rating metric has Virginia slightly above the Tigers (16th; Clemson 19th) for the conference's best, where Clemson has the No. 1 defense and No. 72 offense when it comes to efficiency (Virginia 33rd on offense; 13th on defense). The Tigers are 15th in the NCAA's NET ranking tool, which also paces the league. They have a No. 25-ranked strength of schedule.

In the early bracket projections, Clemson is as high as a 2-seed. CBS Sports has the Tigers as a 3-seed in a rematch with Alabama. ESPN's Joe Lunardi pegs Clemson as a 4-seed currently against Liberty.

The NCAA announced a change Friday in how they will construct the field as all the teams will be in one area this year: "While the participating schools’ geographic proximity to the sites hosting preliminary rounds largely drives the committee’s bracketing decisions in a typical year, this year’s bracket will be mostly determined by the overall seed list, which is the committee’s ranking of the 68 teams participating in the event.

"The method, commonly referred to as the S-curve, involves the same first step the committee would normally use, which entails putting the top four teams on the seed list in the four separate regions. From there, however, things will be different in 2021. The overall No. 5 seed will be placed in the same region as the overall No. 4. The overall No. 6 will be placed with the overall No. 3. The overall No. 7 seed will be paired with the overall No. 2, and the overall No. 8 will be in the same region as the top-seeded team. The next step would be to place the third-seeded teams, with the overall No. 9 seed joining the Nos. 1 and 8 seeds in one region, the No. 10 seed being placed with the Nos. 2 and 7 seeds, the No. 11 seed going to the same region as the Nos. 3 and 6 seeds, and the No. 12 seed joining the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds. The first quadrant of tournament teams is completed by placing the fourth-seeded teams in each region as follows: the overall No. 13 with Nos. 4, 5 and 12; No. 14 with Nos. 3, 6 and 11; No. 15 with Nos. 2, 7 and 10; and No. 16 with Nos. 1, 8 and 9. The process repeats itself for teams seeded 5-16, using the overall seed list to place teams in their respective regions.

"The committee’s intent will be to stay true to the S-curve for placing teams on the bracket, though the following existing principles will still be applied accordingly:

-Each of the top four teams selected from a conference shall be placed in different regions if they are seeded on the first four lines.

-Teams from the same conference shall not meet before the regional final if they played each other three or more times during the regular season, to include the conference tournament.

-Teams from the same conference shall not meet before the regional semifinals if they played each other twice during the regular season, to include the conference tournament.

-Teams from the same conference may play each other as early as the second round if they played no more than once during the regular season, to include the conference tournament.

-If possible, rematches of nonconference regular-season games should be avoided in the First Four and first round.

Selection Sunday is scheduled to be March 14. Tournament games will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, along with Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.

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