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NCAA Tournament chair talks selection process and using NET

What the chair said would seem to bode well for Kentucky.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Nashville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We’re inching closer and closer to March, and every college basketball fan knows what that means — March Madness!

It’s arguably the best month for sports, as it’s full of conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament.

Today, NCAA Tournament Selection Committee chair Bernard Muir held a teleconference to talk about the annual revealing of the top 16 seeds, which will be announced on Saturday at 12:30 pm EST.

This will be the third year in which the Selection Committee has released the top 16 teams for the tournament prior to its start. It’s a great way to build anticipation, along with seeing where the committee’s heads are at.

Obviously, these are subject to change as there is still about a month left to go in the regular season. Muir said that the top eight teams were were settled for now, and the rest still needs a lot of discussion.

“I can say the first two lines, we pretty much are certain of who will occupy those first two lines. It’s the 9 through 24 which still needs a lot of discussion, to be sorted through,” said Muir. “We’ll have a lot of work to do today and tomorrow to figure that out. But we think we know at least the top 8 who are certain to occupy those first two lines.”

One would have to assume Kentucky is part of that eight-team group. You can also safely assume Virginia, Duke, Tennessee and Gonzaga are part of that group. Other teams in the mix for one of those spots include Michigan, Houston and North Carolina.

One of the bigger things to note from the teleconference was the fact that Muir said the committee isn’t looking at RPI anymore. Instead, they’re focusing a lot of attention on the NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) rankings.

“To be quite honest with you, I’m not looking at the RPI any more,” said Muir. “We as a committee have decided the RPI is kind of yesterday’s news. Now we have this new feature called the NET. That’s what we’re plugged into.

“Again, the NET is just one tool that we have at our disposal. When you look at those team sheets, there’s a number of metrics we can pull from. That’s what I’ve been using as my guide.

“Another thing I think we need to underscore throughout this process is observation. Certainly watching games, watching how teams perform, is really important, as well as any metric we can use.”

As most of you probably remember, the Cats were 61st when those rankings first came out, but now, they are 5th. Muir pointed out that he wasn’t concerned about the initial rankings because he knew it would “sort itself out.”

Still, if NET is really a big factor in the process, it’s good news for Kentucky, as they’re just one spot out of a 1 seed if the tournament began today based on NET. And the Cats have plenty of chances to improve it, including two matchups with Tennessee, who is No. 4 in NET.

That’s a lot different than RPI, which currently has Kentucky ranked 10th.

The Wildcats have put themselves in a great position for the postseason to this point. They’re currently ranked No. 5 in the AP/Coaches Polls and No. 5 in the NET rankings. After their blowout win over South Carolina, don’t be surprised if the Cats snag a 1 seed on Saturday. Although, it’s more likely they’ll be a 2 seed, and they continue to pull away from other schools that could rise up and knock them out of the 2 seed line.

Again, these aren’t final, and they will change based on the results of the final month of the season. Still, it will be exciting to see where Kentucky lands.

For now, here is what the NET’s top 16 teams look like as of Thursday afternoon:

1. Virginia Cavaliers

2. Gonzaga Bulldogs

3. Duke Blue Devils

4. Tennessee Volunteers

5. Kentucky Wildcats

6. Michigan Wolverines

7. Houston Cougars

8. North Carolina Tar Heels

9. Michigan State Spartans

10. Virginia Tech Hokies

11. Purdue Boilermakers

12. Wisconsin Badgers

13. Iowa State Cyclones

14. Nevada Wolf Pack

15. Louisville Cardinals

16. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Go here for a recap of everything Muir had to say.