I made a handy chart for you to look at the 10 (!) teams still alive for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. (We could see at least three of them eliminated from contention this weekend with losses – Michigan State, Duke, Syracuse/Louisville.) Have fun comparing their resumes! Record vs. Top 25 and Record vs Top 50 are last two columns. Explanation for the 10 contenders below.
Gonzaga: Win at BYU puts the Zags in great shape. Obviously can’t lose in the WCC Tourney. What’d be interesting is if they won out, but were leap frogged anyway. Do you really think the committee is going to put Gonzaga and New Mexico on the No. 1 line if Kansas, Indiana and Miami win their conference tournaments? I’d say nope.
Indiana: Most Top 25 RPI wins in the country. Loss to Minnesota didn’t really hurt. Losses to Ohio State or Michigan might. Big Ten tourney is a minefield, but another regular season loss and not reaching the B10 semis knocks them off the No. 1 line. In that scenario, the Hoosiers be 3-3 in their last six.
New Mexico: The Mountain West is very good and the Lobos have won four straight. Can’t lose to Wyoming, Nevada or Air Force in the regular season if they want the No. 1 seed. How’s this – close regular season 3-0 but lose in MWC tourney final. Still a No. 1? Reminder: Impressive SOS, eight (and counting) Top 50 wins.
Georgetown: Ten wins in a row, but still visit Villanova and host Syracuse. Big East tourney, as usual, will be brutal. Of the Big East trio, the Hoyas have the best shot at a top seed.
Miami: Have won 15 of 16, and a No. 1 won’t be determined by the Duke game Saturday. Lose that but win the ACC tourney and you have to take the Hurricanes over the Blue Devils for the No. 1 seed (tossup in RPI, SOS).
Kansas: Win out (likely) and then the Big 12 tourney and they’ve got a No. 1 seed. Don’t think they’ll get it if they lose to OKSU in the tourney final.
Michigan St: How is Sparty here with two losses in a row? Because they play two more ranked teams (at Michigan, vs. Wisconsin) and if they win those, then the Big Ten tourney, yes, a No. 1 seed is possible. Longshot, but are you ready to doubt Tom Izzo?
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Duke: The Virginia loss wasn’t a bad one; the Blue Devils have eight Top 50 RPI wins, which is just one behind Kansas. Beating Miami at home Saturday is mandatory, though. Can’t expect Duke to lose two of three to the Canes and then get the No. 1 seed over them.
Syracuse: Only 4-5 against the RPI Top 50 and have lost five of nine. Why are the Orange here? Because if they can beat Louisville and Georgetown, and then win the Big East tournament, yes, they’ll steal a No. 1 seed (that would mean possibly taking two of three from Georgetown or possibly sweeping Louisville).
Louisville: Quietly have won seven of eight, but none of those wins are impressive. But win at Syracuse, then beat Notre Dame, and then win the Big East tournament? A No. 1 seed is possible, although a 2/3 seed is much more likely.
My guess, today (no order):
1- Indiana, Gonzaga, Kansas, Miami.
2- Duke, Georgetown, Syracuse, New Mexico
3- Louisville, Michigan State, Florida, Michigan.
I’m assuming New Mexico loses in the conference tourney; Miami wins the ACC tourney, Syracuse wins the Big East tourney, Michigan beats Michigan State this weekend, Florida slips up in the SEC tourney.