The Super 10: The Top Ten Contenders for a One Seed
It’s almost February, so we are getting far enough into the season to start determining which teams are the biggest threats to land on the one line.
MORE LIKELY THAN NOT
Villanova – The Wildcats are already clearly on the one line and there’s no reason to believe they won’t run away with the Big East. They might land the overall one seed for the second consecutive season.
Duke – The Blue Devils are so explosive offensively, and they are getting more experienced by the day. With four Group 1 wins and a 17-2 record to go along with top ten overall and non-conference schedule strength numbers, Duke looks slightly more likely than not to land on the top line.
BORDERLINE ONE SEEDS
Purdue – The Boilermakers are 19-2 and undefeated in the Big Ten. Still, their RPI is only ninth in the country, as the Big Ten isn’t providing many opportunities for quality victories. Looking at Purdue’s remaining schedule, their only regular season game remaining that is likely to be a Quadrant 1 game is at Michigan State. The Boilers might need to be unbeaten in the Big Ten to land on the one line, as they are sure to get passed in the quality win department.
Kansas – The Jayhawks currently have sole possession of first in the Big XII after winning at West Virginia, their biggest competition for the Big XII Championship. But following three home losses this season (Washington, Arizona State, and Texas Tech), even an outright Big XII Championship might not be enough to land a one seed. More importantly, the Jayhawks simply don’t “look” like a one seed. They keep scraping by bottom-tier Big XII teams at Allen Fieldhouse (Iowa State, Kansas State, Baylor), while West Virginia “looks” like a one seed. If the Jayhawks can’t hold off the Mountaineers, then their Big XII rival will likely overtake them for the one line.
West Virginia – As just stated, WVU is still a very serious threat to unseat Kansas atop the Big XII for the first time in fourteen seasons. If they’re successful in doing that, it will likely be enough for a one seed, as they lost just one game in OOC play and they pair that with a win over fellow one seed contender Virginia. A bit of a hindrance to their one seed bid, though, is a non-conference SOS in the 200s.
Virginia – The Wahoos are in sole possession of first in the ACC, and they have a good win over UNC in Charlottesville. That said, you’d expect a one-loss ACC team to have a better overall resume than the Cavaliers have at this point. They are just 3-1 against the current field. Two of those wins are Rhode Island and Syracuse (currently 7 and 11 seeds) at a neutral site and at home. That means UVA has ZERO true road wins over a tournament team. That’s why they currently find themselves on the two line despite only one loss. Alas, opportunity abounds. They have FIVE remaining ACC road games against teams currently in the field. It’s going to be put up or shut up time for UVA.
Oklahoma – The Sooners lost a heartbreaker to rival Oklahoma State in overtime yesterday, but Trae Young’s squad can still move up to the top line quite feasibly. They get Kansas and West Virginia in Norman, and they already have five Quadrant 1 victories. Don’t count the Sooners out yet.
Texas Tech – Despite a blowout loss at Iowa State yesterday, the Red Raiders still have seven games left to go that would currently qualify as Quadrant 1 games. With huge wins at Kansas and home over West Virginia already in the books, the opportunity to fly up to the one line remains.
North Carolina – This doesn’t look like a vintage Heels squad, but they already five Quadrant 1 wins and four additional Quadrant 2 wins. Although the loss in Chapel Hill to Wofford will remain a deadweight all the way through Selection Sunday, the Heels will likely end up on the one line if they can find a way to win the ACC outright.
Ohio State – The Buckeyes are playing great basketball right now, and that’s why they are the last team to make this list (just above Arizona and Xavier). Ohio State is unbeaten in Big Ten play and they get 6 of their last ten at home. While going to Purdue is daunting, it’s also a huge opportunity to put an exclamation point on a one seed resume. It’s not crazy to think Ohio State can lose only 1, or even 0, in Big Ten play. If so, the Big Ten tournament is played a week earlier than normal because Jim Delaney insisted on playing it at Madison Square Garden. That means OSU could have both a Big Ten regular season title and tournament title in their pocket by the time the Selection Committee first meets.