Bracket update: Xavier grabs final No. 1 seed
It’s almost March and the No. 1 seed lines remain an open book. Kansas is best positioned to retain its slot on the top line, assuming the Jayhawks avoid a cluster of losses. The remaining spots are more open for debate. Xavier is the latest newcomer – following Wednesday’s victory over Villanova. Quietly, the Musketeers have compiled a resume worthy of top-seed consideration. Keeping a spot won’t be easy, however. North Carolina continues to push, as does a surging Michigan State team that is finally healthy. Today, Oklahoma and Villanova hold the other No. 1 seed positions.
As it looks right now, a group of teams from the Atlantic 10 could have a lot at stake in the next two weeks. Dayton is strongest positioned, and most likely safe, even as the Flyers teeter a little. The next four – Saint Joseph’s, VCU, St. Bonaventure, and George Washington – all have various tasks remaining. Although St. Joe’s is the final No. 7 seed today, the difference between the Hawks and VCU and St. Bonaventure (among the First Four OUT) is not nearly as deep as it appears. In fact, it’s rather small – which serves as a good illustration of where we stand in the middle and lower-end of the bracket. To varying degrees, teams on seed lines 7-12 all have work remaining.
Consider Providence. After losing five of six games and six of their past eight, the Friars find themselves among the last four teams with a bye (meaning just above the First Four). Their last three games should be manageable, but their margin for error is fading – fast.
It could really get interesting if we have a few “upsets” during Championship Week. How will the cutline look if a few teams like Arkansas-Little Rock, Monmouth, San Diego State, Valparaiso and even Hawaii or Chattanooga lose in the the championship games of their conference tournaments? What if Gonzaga wins the West Coast tourney? Has Saint Mary’s done enough? And what if an upstart – say a team like Mississippi State in the SEC – goes on a hot streak for three days? Stay tuned.