Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans are at it again. The Spartans have lost just once in 2013 (at Indiana), and they play the Hoosiers tonight in a heavy-weight tilt in East Lansing. IU and MSU are tied at the top of a strong Big Ten conference. All this considered, Michigan State joins IU, Miami-FL, and Florida as a No. 1 seed in today’s bracket. Duke, Michigan, Gonzaga, and Louisville (among others) are chasing. Those four fall into spots five through eight on the current s-curve. Kansas and Syracuse could also re-enter the No. 1 seed debate over the next few weeks. Arizona has fallen off a bit, but it’s not impossible for the Wildcats to regain some traction if they win out.
Kentucky is among our first five out. Bottom line: UK is 0-1 without Nerlens Noel, and that was a lopsided loss at Tennessee. The Wildcats have time to re-establish their NCAA position, but they have to show the Selection Committee they can win without one of their most important players. North Carolina is among the last five in today. The Tar Heels still have just one Top 50 RPI win (UNLV). Villanova, Arizona State, Temple, and Virginia join UNC as the final teams in the bracket. They are paired in the First Four. Teams just missing today? St. John’s, Maryland, Charlotte and Indiana State – along with aforementioned Kentucky.
While things are starting to settle some, we still have a fair amount of fluidity in the middle and bottom of the bracket. We also have a couple of procedural bumps today. Illinois – which has played its way off the bubble – is a true eight seed, but moves up to the No. 7 spot in the Midwest because of conference conflicts. UCLA is the team that falls a line, dropping from a true seven to an eight. Those things happen on a fairly regular basis. The Selection Committee tries to follow its s-curve (now referred to as Seed List) as closely as possible, but exceptions have to be made.
Geography also plays a factor. Gonzaga is rewarded with the No. 2 seed in the West Region even though they are behind Duke and Michigan on the s-curve rankings. Again, this can – and does – happen. The region is re-balanced later. Kansas, the top three-seed today, is moved West. These are tweaks the Committee uses to create balance based on its Seed List. Enjoy another great week of hoops.