One Seed Contenders

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.

LONGER ODDS

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.

Sunday Bracket / Thoughts

A Wabash Welcome – Kansas State’s Rise:

K-State is a newcomer on the eleven line of the bracket after defeating TCU in Manhattan on Saturday.  The ‘Cats are a bit of a controversial selection, but the eye test is too strong to deny them.  Let’s breakdown the resume from Warren Nolan:

The Pros:

  • victory over an elite Oklahoma squad
  • only beaten easily once (at Texas Tech)
  • very easily could’ve beaten Arizona State and Kansas, showing their efficiency

The Cons:

  • OOC SOS is 333 out of 351.
  • Only three wins over quadrants 1 and 2
  • Lost to Tulsa in Wichita, which counts as a home game

Adding it all up, it is a tough call.  But they have a winning record in the undisputed top league in America, and they just plain look like an NCAA tournament team.  The resume isn’t great, but it will do for now.

EAST

1 Villanova
16 Wagner / NC A&T

8 Florida St
9 Alabama

5 Tennessee
12 Belmont

4 Texas Tech
13 ETSU

6 Miami
11 Butler / Houston

3 Ohio State
14 William and Mary

7 Michigan
10 Missouri

2 UNC
15 Iona

WEST

1 Kansas
16 Arkansas Pine Bluff / SE Louisiana

8 Creighton
9 Arkansas

5 Michigan State
12 Buffalo

4 Arizona
13 Wright St

6 TCU
11 Georgia

3 Clemson
14 Hawaii

7 Nevada
10 Washington

2 Xavier
15 Montana

SOUTH

1 Duke
16 Penn

8 Texas
9 Providence

5 Arizona St
12 New Mexico St

4 Cincinnati
13 Louisiana

6 Louisville
11 Kansas State

3 Auburn
14 Vermont

7 Wichita State
10 Gonzaga

2 West Virginia
15 Radford

MIDWEST

1 Purdue
16 FGCU

8 Texas A&M
9 St Mary’s

5 Seton Hall
12 S Dakota St

4 Florida
13 Old Dominion

6 Kentucky
11 SMU / Syracuse

3 Oklahoma
14 Drake

7 Rhode Island
10 Marquette

2 Virginia
15 Bucknell

Friday Bracket / Thoughts

Three-loss Kansas to the One Line:

Kansas is universally regarded as having a down year. Yet the Jayhawks find themselves fourth overall following a huge road win at West Virginia. The Hawks are in sole possession of first in the top conference in the country, they have four wins away from home over the RPI top 40, and their nine Group 1/2 wins are as many as any team has. We cannot ignore the difficulties or the losses, but we have to recognize a great resume that now has an elite true road win to go along with it. As hard as it is to not put one-loss Virginia on the one line, the Cavaliers simply are not in the same ballpark as the Jayhawks when it comes to quality wins.

Ohio State is a four seed:

Did anyone think Ohio State would be racing towards a Big Ten Championship? Even now, it seems a little far-fetched. But the Buckeyes really seem to be coming together, and they are tied atop the Big Ten with Purdue at 7-0. They have a blowout victory over Michigan State to go with five Group 2 victories. It may not be the strongest resume out there, but it is good enough to land the last four seed. And that’s pretty great for year one of a rebuild.

EAST

1 Villanova
16 FGCU / NC A&T

8 Missouri
9 Florida St

5 Tennessee
12 MTSU

4 Ohio State
13 Vermont

6 Miami
11 Butler

3 West Virginia
14 William and Mary

7 Florida
10 Providence

2 UNC
15 Penn

WEST

1 Kansas
16 Jackson State / Nicholls St

8 Nevada
9 Arkansas

5 TCU
12 Buffalo

4 Arizona
13 Wright St

6 Louisville
11 St Bonaventure / USC

3 Clemson
14 Montana

7 Michigan St
10 Washington

2 Xavier
15 CS Fullerton

SOUTH

1 Duke
16 Robert Morris

8 Texas
9 Texas A&M

5 Arizona St
12 New Mexico St

4 Seton Hall
13 S Dakota St

6 Wichita St
11 Gonzaga / Syracuse

3 Auburn
14 Louisiana

7 Michigan
10 Marquette

2 Oklahoma
15 Radford

MIDWEST

1 Purdue
16 Iona

8 St Mary’s
9 Alabama

5 Creighton
12 Loyola-Chicago

4 Cincinnati
13 ETSU

6 Kentucky
11 SMU

3 Texas Tech
14 Murray State

7 Rhode Island
10 Georgia

2 Virginia
15 Bucknell

Tournament Picture

The season is moving right along, and the path to at-large selections is starting to emerge. While some teams will see huge swings in their profiles, most teams are already grouping themselves into positions that they will remain in for some time based on both resume and actual ability.

With that in mind, here are the teams that are seriously in the at-large tournament picture:

AMERICAN ATHLETIC

>95% Chance: N/A
Good Bet: Wichita State, Cincinnati
The Extended Bubble: Houston, UCF, Temple, UConn, SMU

ACC

>95% Chance: Duke, UNC, Virginia
Good Bet: Clemson, Louisville
The Extended Bubble: Miami, Florida State, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, NC State, Boston College

Big 10

>95% Chance: Purdue
Good Bet: Michigan State
The Extended Bubble: Ohio State, Michigan, Maryland, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana

Big XII

>95% Chance: Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia
Good Bet: N/A
The Extended Bubble: TCU, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Iowa State

Big East

>95% Chance: Villanova
Good Bet: Xavier, Seton Hall
The Extended Bubble: Creighton, Butler, Providence, Marquette

PAC-12

>95% Chance: N/A
Good Bet: Arizona, Arizona State
The Extended Bubble: UCLA, USC, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Stanford

SEC

>95% Chance: N/A
Good Bet: Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee
The Extended Bubble: Arkansas, Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Ole Miss, LSU

OTHERS

>95% Chance: N/A
Good Bet: N/A
The Extended Bubble: Rhode Island, Nevada, Gonzaga, St. Bonaventure, St. Mary’s, Boise State, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, San Diego State, BYU, South Dakota State, Missouri State, Loyola-Chicago

Tuesday Bracket / Thoughts

Michigan State’s Freefall from the One Line:

If you’ve been following the site this season, you’re aware Michigan State had a leaner resume than a highly seeded team should have.  But following a stretch where the Spartans were easily handled by Ohio State and Michigan (while also getting taken to overtime by Rutgers), the thin resume of the Spartans can no longer prop them up into a protected seed.  They now find themselves at a six.  Look at this team sheet from http://www.WarrenNolan.com:

The Spartans may be ninth in the AP poll, but they certainly haven’t earned it.  They do have a nice win over UNC at the Phil Knight Invitational, but what’s their next best win? Surely, it is Notre Dame or Maryland at home.  While those wins were completely dominant, the committee rightfully cares more about your ability to beat great teams than to dominate bubble teams on your home floor.  With only one Group One win and just a .250 winning percentage against Group One opponents, the Spartans are holding onto a six seed based on talent and efficiency numbers.  At this point, winning out is the only possible path to a one seed, and even that would likely not be enough.

ACC Battle for the Top Line:

Duke overtakes Virginia on the one line in today’s bracket.  It has nothing to do with UVA failing in any way, but it really has to do with Duke’s overall body of work coming together. 

 

Check out this side-by-side comparison of the two ACC rivals: 

Look how much more impressive Duke is on the far left side of their team sheets.  They have four wins against top 50 teams, and not one of them was played in Cameron Indoor.  UVA counters with a home win against UNC and a neutral court win over Rhode Island.  Remember, UVA started conference play by playing four of their first five at JPJ.  Going on the road in ACC play will give us a much better picture of UVA’s one seed chops.

EAST

1 Villanova
16 Bethune-Cookman / Nicholls State

8 Florida State
9 Texas

5 Ohio State
12 Buffalo

4 Kentucky
13 Belmont

6 Cincinnati
11 Syracuse / Butler

3 West Virginia
14 Louisiana

7 Creighton
10 Missouri

2 Virginia
15 Radford

WEST

1 Duke
16 Robert Morris

8 Florida
9 Marquette

5 Michigan
12 Middle Tennessee

4 Arizona State
13 ETSU

6 TCU
11 St Bonaventure / LSU

3 Wichita State
14 Montana

7 Louisville
10 Providence

2 Texas Tech
15 Penn

MIDWEST

1 Oklahoma
16 Jackson State / FGCU

8 Gonzaga
9 Texas A&M

5 Tennessee
12 South Dakota St

4 Xavier
13 Wright St

6 Miami
11 UCLA

3 Auburn
14 Rider

7 Arkansas
10 Washington

2 Clemson
15 Bucknell

SOUTH

1 Purdue
16 Cal State Fullerton

8 Nevada
9 Alabama

5 Arizona
12 New Mexico St

4 Seton Hall
13 Vermont

6 Michigan St
11 Georgia

3 UNC
14 William and Mary

7 Rhode Island
10 Notre Dame

2 Kansas
15 Drake

Sunday Bracket / Thoughts

The curious case of Auburn:

Auburn is having one of their best seasons in history, but their spot on the overall seed list is still a bit of a mystery.  On the one hand, they have a whopping four wins over Group 1 teams, and an additional four more wins over Group 2 teams.  Those are fantastic numbers.  But digging into the profile a bit more, what exactly have they done to show they are elite?  They beat Tennessee on the road, but a home win against Arkansas is the only other game that does all that much for the resume.  Auburn is a three in the bracket today.  Consider it a hedge.  They look like a one numerically but they have not done enough to show they are actually one of the country’s elite teams, as shown in their team sheet from http://Warrennolan.com:


The elite Big XII:

There is no question which conference is the best in college basketball; it is the Big XII.  In the next AP poll, it would not be a surprise if the Big XII’s four co-leaders (Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Kansas) are all ranked in the top ten.  Here, Oklahoma remains a one seed after an overtime win over TCU, while West Virginia and Texas Tech end up on the two line following the Red Raiders’ one-point win over WVU in Lubbock.  Kansas drops from a two to a three after a couple of uninspiring home wins over Iowa State and Kansas State.  I expect all four of these teams will likely end up protected seeds.

EAST

1 Villanova
16 Bethune-Cookman / Nicholls State

8 Florida State
9 Texas

5 Ohio State
12 Buffalo

4 Kentucky
13 Belmont

6 Cincinnati
11 Syracuse / Providence

3 Kansas
14 Louisiana

7 Creighton
10 Alabama

2 Duke
15 Radford

WEST

1 Virginia
16 Robert Morris

8 Florida
9 Marquette

5 Michigan
12 Middle Tennessee

4 Arizona State
13 ETSU

6 TCU
11 St Bonaventure / LSU

3 Wichita State
14 Montana

7 Louisville
10 Missouri

2 West Virginia
15 Penn

MIDWEST

1 Oklahoma
16 Jackson State / FGCU

8 Gonzaga
9 Texas A&M

5 Tennessee
12 South Dakota St

4 Xavier
13 Wright St

6 Miami
11 UCLA

3 Auburn
14 Rider

7 Arkansas
10 Washington

2 Clemson
15 Bucknell

SOUTH

1 Purdue
16 Cal State Fullerton

8 Nevada
9 Butler

5 Arizona
12 New Mexico St

4 Seton Hall
13 Vermont

6 Michigan St
11 Georgia

3 UNC
14 William and Mary

7 Rhode Island
10 Notre Dame

2 Texas Tech
15 Drake

Friday Bracket / Thoughts

KANSAS AS A TWO SEED:

Moving Kansas up to the two line wasn’t easy, as the Jayhawks have THREE home losses.  But all three losses are to single-digit seeds, and they have five Group 1 wins (see their team sheet from WarrenNolan.com below). Three of those (at TCU, at Texas, and neutral against Kentucky) are very nice victories.  With outstanding overall and non-conference schedules, the Jayhawks have done too much to be denied the two line  compared to the teams on the three line  (which includes Michigan State and Texas Tech).

CINCINNATI AS A SEVEN SEED:

The Bearcats are ranked in the top 15 in both the AP and Coaches’ polls.  But they are a seven seed right now due to a lack of quality wins.  Numerically, they have some good wins, featuring three wins against Group 1 opponents.  But a neutral court win against Buffalo and a road win over an 8-8 Temple team don’t exactly knock your socks off.  With half of their wins coming against Group 4 teams, there simply isn’t much heft to this resume.

EAST

1 Villanova
16 Bethune-Cookman / Oral Roberts

8 Rhode Island
9 Louisville

5 UNC
12 William and Mary

4 Auburn
13 Vermont

6 Miami
11 UCLA / LSU

3 Texas Tech
14 Radford

7 Texas
10 Providence

2 Duke
15 Penn

WEST

1 Virginia
16 Jackson State / SE Louisiana

8 Arkansas
9 Nevada

5 Arizona
12 New Mexico State

4 Kentucky
13 Old Dominion

6 Creighton
11 St Mary’s / Syracuse

3 Michigan State
14 Murray State

7 Ohio State
10 Notre Dame

2 Kansas
15 CS Fullerton

SOUTH

1 West Virginia
16 Robert Morris

8 Marquette
9 Washington

5 Tennessee
12 Buffalo

4 Xavier
13 Wright State

6 Florida
11 Michigan

3 Clemson
14 Furman

7 Georgia
10 Butler

2 Wichita State
15 Bucknell

MIDWEST

1 Oklahoma
16 Montana

8 Gonzaga
9 Missouri

5 TCU
12 Lipscomb

4 Arizona State
13 Louisiana

6 Texas A&M
11 Saint Bonaventure

3 Seton Hall
14 Rider

7 Cincinnati
10 Florida State

2 Purdue
15 Drake

Sunday Bracket / Thoughts

 

CHAOS ON THE TOP LINE:  With losses by Duke and Arizona State, two new one seeds are atop the bracket, joining Villanova and Oklahoma (who stays on the one line after Michigan State lost to Ohio State). West Virginia has impressive wins against UVA and Oklahoma and they haven’t lost since their first game, while one-loss Virginia has looked the part of a one seed with their only loss coming at the home of a fellow top seed (West Virginia).

 

EAST

1 Villanova
16 Bethune-Cookman / New Orleans

8 Ohio State
9 Nevada

5 TCU
12 Old Dominion

4 Auburn
13 William and Mary

6 Arkansas
11 St Bonaventure

3 Kansas
14 Radford

7 Creighton
10 Houston

2 Duke
15 Penn

MIDWEST

1 Virginia
16 Jackson St / Canisius

8 Washington
9 Missouri

5 Tennessee
12 New Mexico St

4 Michigan State
13 Murray State

6 Miami
11 Marquette / Alabama

3 Wichita State
14 Wright St

7 Florida
10 Syracuse

2 Texas Tech
15 Montana

SOUTH

1 West Virginia
16 Oral Roberts

8 Georgia
9 Notre Dame

5 Arizona
12 Lipscomb

4 Clemson
13 Vermont

6 Florida State
11 St Mary’s

3 Xavier
14 Louisiana

7 Butler
10 Gonzaga

2 Purdue
15 Robert Morris

WEST

1 Oklahoma
16 Navy

8 Rhode Island
9 Providence

5 Kentucky
12 Buffalo

4 UNC
13 UC Davis

6 Texas A&M
11 UCLA / Michigan

3 Arizona St
14 ETSU

7 Cincinnati
10 Texas

2 Seton Hall
15 Drake

Surprising Profiles

Below are three resumes that might surprise people.

LOUISVILLE:

The Cards have a strong 11-3 record and they’ve played the 44th best schedule in the country, but there is nothing in this profile.  The highest-rated team they’ve beaten?  Southern Illinois (136th) at home.  Louisville has a good squad, but they better start winning some big games if they want a dance ticket.

KANSAS: 

While Louisville’s resume is surprisingly hollow, Kansas’s is surprisingly strong. The Jayhawks have been limping along this season, falling to Washington, Arizona State, and Texas Tech at home.  That would’ve been truly unthinkable prior to the season.  Despite that, the Jayhawks have three wins against Group 1 teams and two more against Group 2 teams, in addition to stellar SOS numbers (7th overall and 17th in OOC play).  While a loss to TCU tomorrow night could potentially spell doom for Kansas’s Big XII Championship streak, their resume would still be in solid shape.

AUBURN:

Auburn is better than people expected, but do people know their resume looks like they belong towards the top of the bracket?  Look at that team sheet.  Three Group 1 wins, two more Group 2 wins, and only one loss (which is against a Group 1 squad). The teams they’ve beaten might not have excellent name cache, but that resume is too strong to be ignored. If Auburn beats Arkansas on Saturday, they’ll be a protected seed in my next bracket. Who would’ve guessed that back in November?

Weak Out of Conference Schedules

Every year, one or two otherwise worthy teams will miss the NCAAs because of a poor OOC schedule and some others will get a lower seed than they’d like.  This year, some teams have already identified themselves as teams that will be affected by a weak slate.

In danger of missing the tournament:

Florida State – Despite an AP ranking, the Noles have zero Group One wins and the 201st-ranked OOC schedule. A sterling OOC record really didn’t help much.

Creighton – The Bluejays managed to beat UCLA in Kansas City, but that was their only Group One win to go with a 206th-ranked OOC schedule. How UCLA performs this year could end up being a deciding factor for the Jays, but my guess is they raise their game in Big East play and end up between an 8-10 seed in the NCAAs.

Boston College – Handing Duke their only loss so far is great. But their OOC schedule? Brutal. With no good wins out of league play, they’ll have to show very well in ACC play to overcome a 260th-ranked non-league slate.

Mississippi State – The Bulldogs have just one loss, but they have no notable wins. A 300th-ranked OOC slate will spell doom unless they leave no doubt they are tournament-worthy in SEC play.

Virginia Tech – Buzz Williams has a team capable of returning to the NCAAs for a second consecutive season, but like Mississippi State, they’ll need to leave no doubt in conference play to secure a bid. With a 266th-ranked OOC schedule, they better hope Washington can sneak into the top 50 to give them at least one non-conference Group One win to offset the brutal neutral court loss to Saint Louis.

Kansas State – I have no doubt KSU is a tournament quality team, but their 287th-ranked non-conference schedule leaves them zero OOC Group One or Two wins and one bad loss (Tulsa).  Like last year, I expect the Wildcats to win so many tough games in Big XII play to make field. But it won’t be easy.

Baylor – The Bears are ranked in the AP Poll, but are in serious tournament danger. Baylor has zero Group One wins and their 293rd-ranked OOC schedule is going to be cannon fodder for the committee. Baylor is good enough to make the field, but their non-conference slate put them at such a disadvantage that I’m going to predict them to miss the NCAAs altogether.

Worse seed than they expect:

Cincinnati – Get ready for Mick Cronin to tell the media that his Bearcats are underseeded. Despite two Group One wins in OOC play, the Bearcats still have a 206th-ranked OOC schedule. And one of those Group One wins is Buffalo, which should end up being downgraded to a Group Two win by March. Considering the lack of quality win opportunities in AAC play, look for Cincinnati to once again pair a strong overall record with a non-protected seed.