College hoops is right around the corner. Teams are practicing. Tip-off is a mere month away. Can March be far behind?
Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but here at Bracketville, hoops vacations are relatively short. So … what better way to kick-off our 2016-17 campaign than a poll where you get to share your opinions about the early front-runners for No. 1 seeds. Just know this … whether you’re a Duke fan or Blue Devil hater, we’ll be surprised if Coach K’s crew isn’t on a top seed line come Selection Sunday. Read more…
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.
With just over a week until Selection Sunday, the No. 1 seed line remains unsettled. Kentucky will be the No. 1 overall seed; that much is clear. We’re also confident that some combination of these teams will comprise the other three spots on the top line: Virginia, Duke, Villanova, Wisconsin, Arizona, or Gonzaga. That’s six teams for three spots.
Virginia also looks pretty locked-in as a one-seed; it would take a loss Saturday at Louisville, and an earlier-than-expected exit from the ACC tournament, to create the potential for a slip. Which leaves us, more realistically, with five teams for two spots. In today’s bracket, Duke and Villanova hold spots three and four on the Seed List, with Wisconsin and Arizona next in line. Gonzaga will be discussed, but the Bulldogs likely need every team ahead of them to lose in order to move back up. Read more…
The bubble continues to ebb and flow with a collection of pedestrian resumes maneuvering toward Championship Week. So instead of discussing a revolving door, let’s address perhaps the most-debated question regarding current bracket projections: Should Gonzaga be a No. 1 seed?
Let’s start here: the Selection Committee would prefer to have a “West-based” team atop the West Region. Gonzaga – and Arizona, obviously – both fit that description and both teams have resumes that would put them in the discussion. Which brings us to the finer points of the ‘Zags resume. The numbers are pretty strong … Gonzaga is 8-1 against both RPI/BPI top 100 teams. Here’s how the Bulldogs rank on various power ratings: RPI (8), BPI (4) and KenPom (5). Gonzaga has non-conference wins over these current NCAA-projected teams: SMU, St. John’s, and Georgia. The ‘Zags only loss was by three points at Arizona.
Those on the other side of the equation will argue that Gonzaga has played only two Top 100 teams (BYU and Saint Mary’s) since beginning West Coast Conference play, and that the league hasn’t challenged them enough to be a No. 1 seed. They will argue that Gonzaga’s non-conference schedule wasn’t as strong as past years. Both of those arguments are – at least to a certain point on the latter – true. Of course, schedules are often made in advance, and Memphis and UCLA (as examples) haven’t been as good as expected.
Whichever side of the argument you fall on, it’s a healthy debate that will continue in Indianapolis prior to Selection Sunday. But if Gonzaga wins out, and finishes with just one loss, odds would place the Bulldogs as favorites to be a No. 1 seed in the West. We’ll see how it plays out. If Gonzaga loses, the door will certainly be open for the four teams currently residing on the two-line: Villanova, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Arizona.
Let’s take a look:
- Most importantly, the Badgers only play Michigan State and Ohio State once – and both games are at the Kohl Center, where UW is 8-0 this year and 225-30 since the facility opened (according to the uwbadgers.com).
- The Badgers will likely be favored in every league road game they play until traveling to Michigan and Iowa back-to-back in mid-February.
- Wisconsin’s closing stretch (final four games) includes road trips to Penn State and Nebraska (both manageable) and home dates with Indiana and Purdue. By contrast, Michigan State closes with Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio State, and includes trips to Ann Arbor and Columbus. Ohio State closes with Minnesota, Indiana, Penn State, and Michigan State (IU and PSU are on the road). Iowa ends with road trips to Minnesota and Michigan State and home dates with Purdue and Illinois .
- Michigan State plays Ohio State, Iowa, and Michigan twice.
- Iowa plays Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan twice.
- Ohio State plays Michigan State and Iowa twice, and Michigan once.
If results follow projections, Wisconsin certainly has an advantage. And considering the Badgers are 13-0 with non-conference victories over Florida, St. John’s, Saint Louis, Marquette, and Virginia, an outright Big Ten title would put them in prime position for a No. 1 seed with opening games in Milwaukee. That’s a pretty good way to start the New Year.
It’s time to start thinking college hoops. Games begin in a month. As a new season approaches; let’s try something new here at Bracketville: voting for a our Reader’s Preseason Power 24.
We’ll start at the top. Using the poll below choose four teams (of the 12 listed; or list your own) that you would rank as preseason No. 1 seeds in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The team receiving the most votes will earn our fan poll’s No. 1 ranking. Same for spots two through four. We’ll then move onto slots 4-8, etc. until we’ve completed the Power 24.
As always, you’re interest and involvement into Bracketville makes it fun. Prior to the season, we’ll post the completed Power 24 as voted on by readers, as well as my own Power 24 – the way I would rank the Top 6 seed lines heading into year. A preseason bracket projection? That will be on the way, too.