When a new bracket appears on Monday, Kentucky, Syracuse, and Ohio State will remain as No. 1 seeds. Yes, Syracuse lost at Notre Dame on Saturday, but the Orange were not headed to the NCAAs with a perfect record. That’s unrealistic when you play in a Top 10 RPI conference. It’s more likely that Syracuse will have two or three losses by Selection Sunday. If that’s the case, SU could/should be a No. 1 seed. The question: Which teams are currently in the hunt for the final No. 1 seed? Data comes from collegerpi.com.
The best candidates right now are Duke and three teams from the Big 12: Missouri, Kansas, and Baylor. Some people will point at Duke’s home loss to Florida State and discard the Blue Devils. Just keep in mind that Duke is 4-2 vs. Top 25 RPI teams – including non-conference wins over Michigan State and Kansas. The Blue Devils have also beaten Michigan, Virginia, and Davidson – a team that won at Kansas – and boast the nation’s No. 1 strength-of-schedule. Duke may or may not be one of the best four teams, but the Blue Devils’ overall resume is still pretty strong. We’ve seen it before: if Duke wins both an ACC league and/or ACC tournament title, the Blue Devils could again be a top seed.
Missouri boasts an impressive 18-1 record and is coming off a strong road victory at Baylor. By comparison, the Tigers’ are 2-0 against Top 25 (RPI) teams and 3-1 vs. the Top 50. Missouri’s best additional wins: Illinois, California, Iowa State, and Texas. Of those, only Illinois is a confident NCAA pick at this juncture. As a footnote: Missouri’s non-conference SOS ranks No. 260 – Duke’s non-conference SOS is No. 3
Kansas leads the Big 12 and dominated Baylor in Lawrence. KU still plays Missouri twice, so that will be a huge factor in the final analysis. The Jayhawks are 5-3 vs. Top 50 teams and 8-3 vs. the Top 100. That ties them with Duke (and a few others) for the most Top 100 wins, and is only behind Syracuse (10 Top 100 wins). KU’s losses are on neutral courts to Duke and Kentucky, plus a home loss to Davidson. The Jayhawks have wins over Baylor, Ohio State (no Jared Sullinger), Georgetown, and Kansas State. Those are four tournament level teams.
Baylor had a tough schedule this past week, visiting Kansas and hosting Missouri. A split (road/home) would have been expected. Instead, Baylor lost both and is now two-games back of Kansas. Overall, Baylor is 7-1 away from home and 4-1 in true road games. Those are strong numbers. Road wins include Kansas State, Northwestern (by 27), and BYU. There are questions about Baylor’s ability to win physical games, but the Bears’ resume to date remains impressive. Their only losses are to teams mentioned here as potential No. 1 seeds. Read more…