See the post below this one for my updated bracket. But first, here is an exhaustive list of every team that can reasonably get up to the one line.
THE TOP CONTENDERS
· Villanova – The AP’s #1 are 12-1 vs. the RPI top 100, with six top 50 wins (4 of which were on road or neutral courts). With the 20th rated OOC schedule, they should get a one seed if they win the Big East outright.
· Kansas – The Jayhawks are the Coaches’ top team and are 4-0 against the RPI top 50 (with 3 of those wins away from home). With ten top 100 wins and the 35th-rated OOC SOS, they should get a one seed if they win the Big XII outright.
· Baylor – The Bears have 10 top 100 wins, including five top 50 wins. Their great tenth-rated OOC schedule puts them in prime position to land a one seed with a Big XII title.
· Creighton – Greg McDermott’s squad leads the country with 8 top 50 wins, and they only have one loss. They suffered an unfortunate break, though, as Mo Watson was lost for the year. How they do without him will impact their seed.
· UCLA – The Bruins have made a great turnaround this year. They own the best win of the season (at Kentucky), and have 8 top 100 wins. However, the Bruins have just 2 top 50 wins and a poor 176-rated OOC SOS.
· Gonzaga – The nation’s only unbeaten has 7 top 100 wins, four of which are against the top 50. Their overall SOS won’t be great by Selection Sunday, so a one seed seems unlikely if they suffer more than one loss. Even one loss isn’t a one seed guarantee.
· Kentucky – The Wildcats have an outstanding OOC SOS (7th), as well as 8 top 100 wins and 4 top 50 wins. However, they already have two losses to other one seed contenders (UCLA and Louisville), and playing in the SEC does not give many opportunities for quality wins. Beating Kansas at home is a must for a one seed.
· West Virginia – The Mountaineers have surprised this year. They own a top notch road win (Virginia) and a dominating win over Baylor. However, WVU has just 5 top 100 wins (although four are against the top 50) and a brutally poor 253-rated OOC SOS.
· North Carolina – The Heels are a solid 5-1 against the top 50 and are 4-2 against 51-100. However, they already have three losses and the ACC grind is unforgiving.
· Florida State – The Seminoles are flying high this year behind Dwayne Bacon and exceptional athleticism. They are a great 6-1 against the top 50. However, they have just one win against RPI 51-100. I expect the Seminoles will end up on the three or four line when all is said and done, but they are undoubtedly in the one seed race right now.
· Notre Dame – The Fighting Irish have been a pleasant surprise this season. They are 7-2 against the top 100 (with four wins against the top 50), have just two losses, and are unbeaten in ACC play. However, their RPI and OOC SOS are just okay. The Irish will need either the ACC regular season or tournament titles to have a chance at a one, and maybe both.
· Louisville – Rick Pitino’s 2016-17 edition has some major plusses, but also some real negatives. While the Cards have the 11th best OOC SOS, 4 top 50 wins, and 8 top 100 wins, all of their top 50 wins are at home and they already have three losses.
· Duke – The Blue Devils are barely in the discussion with just five top 100 wins and four losses. However, because of their injury issues all season, the suspension of Grayson Allen, and the absence of Coach K for medical reasons, a realistic possibility exists for the Devils to run through ACC play and take the ACC Tournament Championship. If that happens, expect the committee to give the Devils the benefit of the doubt.
· Florida – The Gators have a great RPI, the nation’s best OOC SOS, four top 50 wins, and 10 wins against the top 100. However, they already have three losses and their best win is either Arkansas or Seton Hall. If Florida takes home the outright SEC regular season title and makes the SEC title game, then they’ll likely end up on the one line. But that’s probably not happening.
· Butler – Bulldog basketball always seems to find a way, and this year is no different. Butler leads the nation with 12 top 100 wins against just one top 100 loss. However, they already have three loses, two of which are in the bad loss category. If they end up beating out Villanova and Creighton for a Big East Championship, then they have a great argument. But don’t count on it.
· Arizona – Despite some terrible personnel luck, Sean Miller has his crew in position to get a protected seed. With just two losses, a one seed is possible. But their only top 50 win is by two over Michigan State on opening night, and they also have neutral court losses to Butler and Gonzaga. If they take home the Pac-12’s regular season and tournament, though…
· Oregon – Dillon Brooks was injured to start the year, and they may catch a bit of a break from the committee for that. However, they only have two top 50 wins (both at home), and they have just one road or neutral win against the top 100. Like Arizona, there’s a path to a one seed. But near perfection will be required.