THE TOP CONTENDERS
KANSAS (94%) – There is little doubt the Jayhawks would be the overall one if the committee seeded the field today. With wins over Duke and Kentucky away from home, as well as a sweep of Baylor, the Jayhawks have shown they can beat the best of the best away from Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks have their annual loss at Oklahoma State coming up. They can likely sustain a loss there and in the Big XII tournament, and still end up as a one. They have made it clear they are the best team in the nation’s most efficient conference.
VILLANOVA (82%) – The reigning champions looked like a sure one seed until they lost at home to Butler. Still, they are in great shape. They currently have fifteen top 100 wins and nine of those are against the top 50. A Big East tournament title will clinch it.
GONZAGA (64%) – I think the Zags will end up on the top line, but this is far from a sure thing. The Bulldogs can lean on four RPI top 15 wins, only one of which was at home. But even if the Zags win out, other one seed competitors may simply do too much by winning out. One thing looks quite likely at this point; the Zags need to be unbeaten to be on the top line.
NORTH CAROLINA (52%) – The Heels have made quite the run to the one line. They sit at my overall three right now (ahead of Gonzaga). Looking at the resume, there are an impressive nine wins over the top 50, including six wins over teams currently in my top six seed lines. The problem for UNC is they may have to win the ACC tournament to stay on the one line because teams like Oregon, Arizona, Louisville, and Baylor can dramatically improve their resumes during their conference tournaments. Even if they don’t win the ACC Championship, if they can win out during the regular season (which would include a revenge win over Duke) and perform reasonably well in the ACC tournament, then that will likely be enough.
OREGON (29%) – The Ducks are right on the verge of a one seed, and a decent argument can be made they’re already there. They have fourteen wins over the top 100, and they own wins over UCLA and Arizona (in highly impressive fashion). Also importantly, they have the Dillon Brooks injury to excuse some early season woes. Oregon will almost certainly end up on the one line if they win out through the PAC-12 tournament. But that’s a tall order.
BAYLOR (13%) – The Bears were the overall three seed a couple of weeks ago. But Kansas’s win in Waco has changed their outlook pretty significantly. Without a Big XII regular season championship, the Bears will need to win the Big XII tournament. Fortunately for the Bears, they will almost certainly end up with double digit RPI top 50 wins if they do that. With such non-conference wins as Louisville, Oregon, Xavier, VCU, and Michigan State thrown in there, that would probably be enough to sneak onto the one line.
ARIZONA (9%) – The Cats are my top three seed right now, with only three losses on the season. However, they went 0-3 against the three best teams they’ve played (Oregon, Gonzaga, and Butler). If it comes down to a head-to-head comparison, then the Zags could be in trouble. Still, if Arizona can enter the tournament with only three losses, then they’d have to be a strong bet to end up a one.
LOUISVILLE (7%) – The UNC loss wasn’t bad, but it was a huge missed opportunity. Winning out through the ACC Championship will likely get the Cards on the top line, but doing that appears unlikely.
DUKE (4%) – The loss at Syracuse doesn’t hurt all that much, but that game was really important to Duke’s one seed chances. But with nine top 50 wins already and a visit to Chapel Hill upcoming, the opportunity to get in the conversation is there. If Coach K’s team wins out, they’ll probably find the one line.
FLORIDA STATE (3%) – Nine top 50 wins is a good start. But they’ll need to win the ACC tournament, and the fading Noles don’t look like they’ll do that.
ALL OTHERS (7% combined) – Florida, Kentucky, Butler, UCLA, etc. aren’t completely done. But there are too many holes in their resumes to consider them strong contenders.