Saturday, March 12, 2005

Another Look at the Number One Seeds
By Zach

As I see it, the picture at the top of the bracket is starting to clear up.

Illinois will of course be the #1 overall seed and stay at home in Chicago

Despite losing to Georgia Tech today, it seems like UNC will be a #1 as well, though where they'll get placed is a bit up in the air.

Beyond that, things get dicey.

Wake's quarterfinal loss to NC State may be understandable without Chris Paul, but it might be hard to give a #1 seed to a team that didn't even make their conference tournament semis.

Kansas lost a close game to Oklahoma State, but if they're even considered for a #1 the committee should be ashamed. The Jayhawks have lost 5 of their final 7 games, and bowed out in the semis. They'll be lucky to get a 3 seed, in my opinion.

Kentucky is probably in great shape if they can beat Florida tomorrow. I'd have to imagine that if the bracket came out today, they'd be a 1.

Duke can probably get a #1 at the expense of Wake Forest if they beat Georgia Tech tomorrow in the ACC Final. I'm not sure that beating Virginia (11th seed) NC State (7th seed) and Georgia Tech (5th seed) should really impress anyone, but I suspect that winning the ACC tournament (and being Duke) would get the Blue Demons over the hump.

I think the only way someone beyond Illinois, UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, or Kentucky gets a #1 is if Kentucky loses. If they do, the spot will probably go to one of these three teams:

Oklahoma State will have to be considered, assuming they beat Texas Tech to win the Big 12 tournament. Having just beat Kansas, they're on a bit of a roll, but they lost three of four games to close the regular season, and barely managed to beat a bad Colorado team in the Big 12 quarterfinals. They're probably at the end of the list.

To me, Washington and Louisville are the only two other teams who have a shot at claiming a #1 seed. Lousiville did win the Conference USA title today, but needed a free-throw choke by Darius Washington Jr. to survive a Memphis team that's probably NIT bound. Washington meanwhile survived a 37-point effort from Salim Stoudamire to beat #8 Arizona (who should be a #2 seed, #3 at worst).

Both teams have similar records, but I'd have to give the nod to Washington. Their road to the Pac-10 title was much harder than Louisville's, and they're now 4-0 against RPI Top 25 teams on neutral courts, something the committee tends to weigh fairly heavily. Memphis does have the advantage of having won their last 9 games, but I'm not sure how impressive their wins are, especially considering that Washington has 2 wins over Arizona in the same time span.

So, my scenarios look like this:

If Duke and Kentucky both win (all of these assume a win by Oklahoma State):

#1s: Illinois, UNC, Duke, Kentucky
#2s: Washington, Louisville, OK State, Wake Forest

If Duke wins and Kentucky loses:

#1s: Illinois, UNC, Duke, Washington
#2s: Wake Forest, Kentucky, Louisville, OK State

If Duke loses and Kentucky wins:

#1s: Illinois, UNC, Kentucky, Wake Forest
#2s: Washington, Lousiville, OK State, Duke/Arizona

If Duke loses and Kentucky loses:

#1s: Illinois, UNC, Wake Forest, Washington
#2s: Louisville, OK State, Kentucky, Duke/Arizona


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