Kentucky and Syracuse remain 1-2 in January 30 bracket
Kentucky and Syracuse remain No. 1 and No. 2 on the s-curve in this week’s bracket. That scenario may not change when the actual Field of 68 is announced on Selection Sunday. Wildcat fans can start making plans to watch their team in nearby Louisville during Rounds 2 and 3 of March Madness. It would take a mighty February fall for UK to leave the Commonwealth. Syracuse is most likely headed to Pittsburgh as the top seed in the East Region.
Ohio State remains entrenched as the No. 1 seed in the Midwest. Which leads us West, where the race includes five teams: Baylor, Kansas, Duke, Missouri, and North Carolina. Those are the teams ranked 4 to 8 on the s-curve today. Baylor gains the edge with its seven (7) Top 50 RPI wins and 8-1 record away from home (road + neutral). By comparison, Kansas has six (6) Top 50 wins and Missouri four (4). Kansas is 6-3 away from home and Missouri is 7-2. Duke has five (5) Top 50 wins and is 8-2 away from home. Baylor has lost only to Kansas (road) and Missouri (home). If you prefer a different order, that’s fine.
Schedule of key games this week
Could we have a surprise No. 1 seed? It would take a team like Vanderbilt, Florida, or Michigan State winning a regular-season and/or conference tournament title. The Mountain West and Missouri Valley are strong leagues, but neither UNLV or Creighton is in position to reach the top line. There simply aren’t enough power victories on their schedules.
How many bids for the Big 10? With the No. 1. RPI rating and no teams ranked below 150, the Big Ten could easily garner bids from teams that finish 9-9 in conference play. Even an 8-10 finish wouldn’t eliminate a team – depending on the eight wins. If in doubt, look at the resumes of the current bubble teams. Because of the Big Ten’s overall strength, quality wins are more available. Think back to the 11 bids captured by Big East teams in 2011. The scenario is similar. That doesn’t mean Big Ten teams will dominate the tournament, but the odds of seven to nine teams making the final bracket is pretty good.
Cincinnati is this week’s ultimate test case (again). Riding a three-game losing streak, the Bearcats have fallen to No. 101 in the RPI (at collegerpi.com). That would be a very dangerous place to be on Selection Sunday. Looking past the RPI number, we find UC with a 2-3 record against Top 50 teams (good wins at Georgetown and Connecticut). They are 6-4 vs. the Top 100 and have a 5-3 mark in true road games. UC has losses to teams ranked 135, 148, and 229 in the current RPI. Then there’s the albatross of a non-conference SOS ranked No. 330. Now, let’s look at Colorado’s numbers from 2011 … four Top 25 RPI wins (beat K-State three times), five Top 50 wins and losses to RPI teams ranked 120, 126, and 138. The Buffaloes also had a non-conference SOS over 300. The Selection Committee chose not to invite Colorado with those numbers – despite its quality wins. The Bearcats are one of the final teams IN today. But the odds won’t be in UC’s favor if the current trend continues.
Enjoy another week of hoops. After Super Bowl Sunday, we being updating the bracket twice a week. Bubble Banter returns soon.