Kansas, Iowa, and San Diego State climb bracket ladder
Kansas is among the top movers in this week’s bracket projection. The reasons are pretty clear: two quality road wins and an overall schedule ranked No. 1 in the nation. Those types of statistics always play well on Selection Sunday.
In the span of a week, the Jayhawks won road games at Oklahoma and Iowa State – sandwiched with a lopsided home victory over improved Kansas State. It’s mid-January and KU already has seven wins against Top 50 teams (RPI – through Monday, January 13). Thus, Kansas finds itself as a No. 2 seed in today’s update. Also worth noting: the Jayhawks’ four losses are by a combined 17 points and only one of those – San Diego State – occurred in the past month.
Which brings us to SDSU – another of the recent seed climbers. San Diego State followed up its monumental victory at KU by handling Boise State at home and Air Force on the road. The Aztecs are 5-0 away home. None bigger than the one in Lawrence.
Iowa vaulted up the seed list after an impressive win at Ohio State. The somewhat undervalued Hawkeyes are 12 points from a perfect season – having lost only on a neutral court to Villanova, at Iowa State, and at Wisconsin. If there is a knock on the Hawkeyes’ resume, it’s an overall weakish non-conference schedule. How that affects Iowa’s final seeding remains to be seen. Continuing to win league road games will erase much of the concern.
Let’s also mention Cincinnati. The Bearcats have won eight straight. The most impressive victory in that streak was a 16-point road win at Memphis. UC has moved from a potential bubble team to No. 19 on the current s-curve.
Other than rising Virginia – and to some extent Oklahoma after its home win over Iowa State – there hasn’t been a lot of movement around the bubble. If you check last week’s bracket, the names appear much the same – perhaps in a slightly different order. Arkansas is the first team out in today’s update. The Razorbacks continue to struggle on the road – a problem that has plagued them in recent years.
It’s still a little early to be overly concerned with conference standings but there are some potential pitfalls ahead. Take, for example, North Carolina. The Tar Heels are 0-3 in ACC play after their loss at Syracuse. This week’s game with Boston College is huge – which is followed by a trip to Virginia and a home date with Clemson. It’s time for UNC to make a u-turn or risk falling out of the Field. Despite three quality wins, a 1-5 league mark would put UNC on an uphill climb toward tourney selection.