The Quest for #1

Villanova is looking to make a bid as the NCAA Tournaments late #1 seed (Photo Courtesy of USA Today).

Villanova is looking to make a bid as the NCAA Tournaments late #1 seed (Photo Courtesy of USA Today).

Villanova is looking to make a bid as the NCAA Tournament’s late #1 seed (Photo Courtesy of USA Today).

 

Selection Sunday is this weekend and the high intensive movement to claim a top seed in the NCAA Tournament is building. Leading up to this week’s conference tournaments, many top teams will have a chance to enhance their resumes to the selection committee, while others look to maintain momentum down the stretch.

The discussion of who should represent the 68 team tournament field as the #1 seeds are always a hot topic of debate. A few teams have established themselves as a top seed and whatever goes down in their respective conference tournaments won’t alter any viewpoints already made. Let’s breakdown the teams that have for now cemented their case as top seeds in the field and teams that could need some work.

 

Kentucky Wildcats

There is no argument here. Kentucky has yet to lose a game all season and is wanting a chance to pursue perfection and finish the season at 40-0. Kentucky wants to embark on one of the most historic feats in college basketball and has done so with 5 wins over the RPI Top 25 and 7 wins in the RPI Top 50. Regardless of the “weaker” portion of the SEC, the teams they’ve played have given them their best shots. You could say the SEC Tournament means absolutely nothing regarding their seed line, because, quite frankly, that’s a valid statement. However, in the bigger scheme of things, Calipari doesn’t want to squander a chance to end perfection this late into the season.

The conference tournament has no barring in determining whether or not the Wildcats capture a #1 seed. (Photo courtesy- Bleacher Report)

The conference tournament has no barring in determining whether or not the Wildcats capture a #1 seed. (Photo courtesy- Bleacher Report)

 

Virginia Cavaliers

With the exception of Kentucky, you could make an argument that no one is safe from missing the chance at a #1 seed. Yet for the most part, Virginia is a lock given they won the ACC for the second consecutive year outright. At 28-2, they have done more than enough to impress the committee. With 4 wins over current Top 25 teams and have 9 wins of potential tournament teams, they have the resume to capture a #1 seed.

A cause for concern in the future is frankly their injury circumstances. Second leading scorer Justin Anderson who averages 13.5 PPG recently came off a hand injury in the early part of February, where he missed 2 weeks. Anderson also suffered an appendectomy tear before Saturday’s game at Louisville, where they lost. Guard London Perrantes is still battling health issues but is becoming stronger week-by-week.

The ACC Tournament contains the same bevy of teams that challenged the Cavaliers for the regular season crown. Duke is fighting for a #1 seed as well and is locked in  the conference tournament as #2 seed behind UVA.  If Virginia remains healthy and gets through a few rounds, there is no question a #1 seed is heading there way for the second straight year.

Virginia should be in great shape for the tournament regardless of their conference tournament (Photo courtesy- HDRoom.com)

Virginia should be in great shape for the tournament regardless of their conference tournament (Photo courtesy- HDRoom.com)

 

Duke Blue Devils

Ranked #3 in the nation. Duke is one of the hottest teams in college basketball and hasn’t lost a game since the heartbreak on January 28th at Notre Dame. By winning in a handful of heinous environments, Duke has posted one of the more superb resumes this season. Currently Duke is ranked 3rd in RPI and 13th in SOS. They are tied with the most wins against the RPI Top 25 in the country with Wisconsin (6), who is also in contention of a #1 seed.

When looking at their wins over the RPI Top 25, more so when they won them on the road. The biggest impressive feat in their wins were the overall make-up. In a premiere December showcase game on the road against Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, Duke controlled that game from start to finish, resulting in a 10 point victory. One narrative that gets thrown around during this time is the value of carrying the weight of victories back in the early part of November and December. Truthfully it is tough to compromise this belief however, the best way of looking at it is the margin of either defeat/victory, then a glance at the current state of the team they played. For example, Duke’s 10 point road win over Wisconsin that was a Top 5 opponent at the time carries more volume now than their slim win at home over UConn back at the end of December, who right now won’t make the NCAA Tournament field according to projections.

The ACC Tournament carries a much larger meaning for Duke in this case than Virginia. A conference tournament championship against quality competition such as Louisville, North Carolina, or Virginia will stamp their claim more emphatically. Duke doesn’t necessarily have to win the ACC Tournament, although it would only augment their status. Heck, Duke could claim a #1 seed without winning their respective conference championship in either the regular season or tournament, which is hard to do.

Tyus Jones is trying to keep Duke's #1 seed lives afloat. (Photo courtesy- Getty Images)

Tyus Jones is trying to keep Duke’s #1 seed lives afloat. (Photo courtesy- Getty Images)

 

Villanova Wildcats

Sometimes Villanova falls beneath the notion of the top dogs in college basketball by the public eye. Jay Wright has done wonders with a veteran led team, guiding them to a 29-2 record and a 4th place ranking in the RPI. While the Wildcats don’t have the standout resume in wins over the RPI Top 25, a sweep of St. Johns and road wins against Butler, Providence, and Xavier carry strong consideration of the last #1 seed.

Their SOS is rated at 48, which in all fairness the competition they faced in out of conference was painless. The way that Villanova performed in the Big East helped solidify their place in discussion for a #1 seed. The misconception of how the conference has “dropped off” is a large misnomer. At least 5 teams from the conference will be dancing next week and if 19-12 Xavier gets their act together than a possible 6 teams make the field, 2nd most behind the Big XII who is projected to have 7.

Their 40 point massacre of St. Johns last Saturday at home appears to be their biggest win of the season. Villanova may not have the glamour of non-conference wins, but in one of the more underrated conferences in college basketball. They have dominated their competition forcefully. Projected as the last #1 seed in the field, Villanova needs to make a statement in their conference tournament to solidify their place as a top seed.

Projected as the Tournament's last #1 seed. Villanova has the most work to do to state their claim. (Photo courtesy- USA  Today)

Projected as the Tournament’s last #1 seed. Villanova has the most work to do to state their claim. (Photo courtesy- USA Today)

 

Team that is on the outside-looking in as far as attaining a #1 seed

 

Wisconsin Badgers

College Basketball’s more innovative and efficient team have their eyes set on a #1 seed, though garnering the top spot might have to come down to the performance of Duke or Villanova this weekend. Overall, Wisconsin’s wins against the field are fantastic with 6 soon to be tournament teams. The team has just suffered two losses in the Big Ten, sweeping Iowa and beating Michigan State and Ohio State in the process. For the most part, the depth of the Big Ten isn’t as sweltering as compared to the other Power 5 conferences, such as he ACC and Big XII.

Wins over Oklahoma and Georgetown are their best non conference wins on paper. Oklahoma finished 3rd in the deep and loaded Big XII, while Georgetown attained a 21 ranked RPI. A few factors that hurt Wisconsin’s chances is a very bad road loss to the last placed team in the Big Ten in Rutgers and 50th rated SOS. Wisconsin does have a chance to sneak into the #1 seed line if they were to win the Big Ten Tournament and were to have Villanova falter early in their conference tournament. Most likely, the Badgers fall to the first #2 seed category.

 

Other candidates 

Arizona Wildcats and Gonzaga have dominated their conferences this season. Nevertheless, the Pac 12 and WCC will have a combined 6 teams make the tournament. Even with a Big XII Tournament Championship, the Kansas Jayhawks are far from #1 seed caliber since they are dealing with 7 losses. They do, in fact, have the most wins over RPI Top 25, 50, and 100 in the country. As well as being Number #1 in the RPI polls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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