As we settle in for the final push toward Selection Sunday, the race for No. 1 seeds is as open as it’s been in several years. With its victory at Oklahoma on Saturday, Kansas resides in today’s Pole Position. The aforementioned Sooners are close behind, followed by Villanova and North Carolina.
Within that group of four, Villanova has the easiest path to retain a No. 1 seed. If you look at the Wildcats’ remaining schedule, they should be favored in every game – with the exception of their trip to Xavier. As such, Nova could be 27-4 (assuming just one more loss – which is a dangerous thing this season) heading into the Big East Tournament. Given the likelihood that a few of the other No. 1 contenders will also lose another game or two, it leaves Villanova in prime position to be a top seed next month. It may or may not be in the East Region.
Who are the other No. 1 seed contenders? Today’s two-line includes Virginia, Xavier, Iowa, and West Virginia. We would also have to include Maryland, Michigan State, and Miami-FL. Could someone else sneak in? It’s possible, but not as likely – given the teams ahead of them. Even so, the fact that we have 11 teams in play at this point in February is quite remarkable.
The bubble remains an on-going merry-go-round and that’s unlikely to change. Championship Week is shaping up to be an important separator for the final at-large positions.
This should not come as a surprise: Oklahoma is the No. 1 overall seed in today’s bracket. After dispatching Oklahoma State and West Virginia last week, the Sooners own the top spot in the RPI, their only blemish a triple-overtime classic at Kansas.
The rest of the top line is as follows: Kansas, North Carolina, and Villanova. Elsewhere, the carousel continues. Between Saturday morning and Sunday night, all but two teams (Maryland and Texas AM) ranked between No. 9 and No. 16 on the Seed List suffered defeats. We should probably be used to that by now, and it’s likely to continue.
Clemson is this week’s biggest mover. While there are certainly question marks on the Tigers’ resume (including a rather horrid non-conference SOS number), the Selection Committee would not ignore a team with a 5-1 mark in the ACC that includes five straight victories over Florida State, Syracuse, Louisville, Duke, and Miami. Four of those five games were at home and Clemson now embarks on a journey that includes four of five games on the road. We’ll see how the Tigers handle prosperity. Read more…
What a weekend for college hoops – headlined by a matchup of Big East contenders who are coming off losses on New Year’s Eve – Butler and Xavier. The Cintas Center in Cincinnati will be rocking.
Given the New Year’s Day bracket – and weekly updates to follow – here’s a quick peek at this weekend’s action as it relates to the current “bracket” landscape:
Seeding Games (based on where we stand at time of writing) …
- Butler at Xavier
- Baylor at Kansas
- Iowa at Purdue
- Iowa State at Oklahoma
- Louisville at Wake Forest
- Arizona at Arizona State
If you’re a team that plays in a power conference you can survive an average (or even below average) non-conference slate and still earn an at-large bid. Last year’s Purdue team is a good example. The Boilermakers dropped non-conference decisions to Kansas State, North Florida, Vanderbilt, and Gardner-Webb. What Purdue was able to do, however, was win 8 of 9 Big Ten games during a mid-season stretch and finish 12-6 in league play en-route to a 9-seed in the Midwest Region.
If you’re a team from outside the power conferences, non-conference results become much more critical. Opportunities for resume-changing wins are more limited. With that thought in mind, here are five opening weekend games with March in mind … Read more…
For the past couple of weeks, Duke and Kansas have been battling for the final No. 1 seed position. With Kansas losing at Oklahoma State this past weekend, Duke and KU flip-flop on the Seed List and the Blue Devils now sit atop the South Region. Not that it’s a huge difference, Kansas is the No. 2 seed in the same region. The other No. 1 seeds remain the same: Kentucky, Virginia, and Gonzaga. It’ll be interesting to see how the Selection Committee ultimately handles Gonzaga. If the Bulldogs win out and enter Selection Sunday with only one loss, it’s tough to imagine a scenario in which they are not a No. 1 seed in the West. But on paper, one could clearly make a case that both Duke and Kansas have superior resumes.
Elsewhere, the Big Ten benefits from its bunching of teams. Illinois, Purdue, and Michigan State are all among the last six teams in today’s bracket – giving the B10 eight representatives. It’s doubtful that will hold up over the next month; five to six bids is much more likely.
A final thought … given the current landscape, Championship Week may become more like Tiebreaker Week for the Selection Committee. Conference tournament results could well determine the final few teams in and out of this year’s NCAA tournament.
Enjoy another week of hoops. Next bracket update is Friday.
It’s possible, given the current resumes of its contending teams. Before moving forward, let’s acknowledge two things … 1) there’s a lot of basketball yet to be played; 2) we have no idea how Championship Week will play out – do we end up with an unexpected team claiming an automatic invitation by winning its league tournament?
At this juncture of the college basketball season, four Mountain West teams have realistic at-large hopes: San Diego State, Wyoming, Colorado State, and Boise State. Only SDSU has a victory over a projected tournament team (Utah). Against the current RPI Top 50? The group is a combined 2-8. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of each team’s profile (current RPI in parenthesis – per ESPN): Read more…
It’s certainly been an interesting two months in college hoops. We’ve seen a variety of odd upsets. We’ve seen mid-major hopefuls slide out of contention for at-large consideration. And we’ve seen some traditional powers skid into the holidays. What hasn’t changed – thus far – is our projected No. 1 seeds. If anything, Kentucky and Duke have further solidified their positions atop the Midwest and East Regions. There’s nothing blue about Christmas in Lexington and Durham this year, except for their appropriately dressed fans.
Regular bracket updates resume in early January. It should be quite a ride. The current bubble is so fluid, a big road win (such as Stanford’s victory at Texas) can vault a team up the Seed List. With the exception of the Top 7-8 teams on our current seed rankings, you’ll find some quirky resumes. Some teams have a bad loss. Some teams lack a quality win. Some teams haven’t ventured far from home. And some are merely treading water as conference play looms. It’s safe to say, the middle and lower bracket positions will revolve in the coming weeks. Maybe more than usual. We’ll see.
Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Have a safe and joyous holiday season.