Bracketology: The race for No. 1 seeds
It’s New Year’s weekend. Conference play has started. The race toward March is upon us, and with it, the race for No. 1 Seeds. Today, those slots belong to Villanova, Kansas, Baylor, and UCLA. Villanova’s survival against DePaul, and UCLA’s last-second loss at Oregon do not change those team’s positions. Opinions vary, of course, but the next four spots on the Seed List look like this: Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Gonzaga. If you have a different order, that’s fine. For me, UCLA’s win at Kentucky still trumps a one-loss Duke team, whose best win is Florida on a neutral court.
Indiana and Texas AM take the biggest slides. When the Hoosiers are good, they’re really good – as noted by wins over Kansas and Carolina. But IU has also been inconsistent and played a rather ugly non-conference schedule for a team with its roster and pedigree. The result? IU has an RPI of 122 (as of this posting), with the loss at Fort Wayne and then at home to Nebraska. The Hoosiers are too talented to be concerned, but a protected seed has to be earned. With that in mind, Louisville awaits on Saturday.
As for Texas AM, the Aggies have just one Top 100 (RPI) win after losing at home to Tennessee. Thus far, AM has avoided bad losses (per rankings), but with trips to Kentucky and South Carolina up next, the Aggies could have an early SEC hill to climb.
Conference play tends to separate contenders from pretenders. Gimmie games are tough to find – road or home. I’ll have some thoughts about some of the best NC resumes in a Quick Takes soon.
A couple of housekeeping reminders – for those just joining us. Conference champions are predicted at this point. They will be selected based on standings as conference play progresses. Also, the RPI, KenPom, etc. tend to have wide variations right now due to non-conference schedules. Those, too, will even out in January. Enjoy your weekend!