Texas predictably slipped a bit in the rankings after falling on the road at Nebraska 70-67 on Saturday, but even from their new spot at No. 5 in the NCAA rankings, Texas is in excellent position to earn a No. 1 seed in San Antonio in the NCAA Tournament.
To begin with, let's just note that the voters who rank the teams cast their votes pretty mechanically. Why is Duke No. 1 this week? Because Texas, Ohio State, Kansas, and Pittsburgh all happened to lose. Had the Longhorns defeated Nebraska, they'd be No. 1 and Duke No. 2. The shuffling in the rankings can be fun to discuss, but it's important to remember that when the Selection Committee sits down to seed the teams, they'll be looking at the teams' bodies of work. Not losing this week helps Duke in this week's polls. But having so few wins over quality teams won't help them come time to seed the bracket.
That's why Andrew has Duke still sitting on the No. 2 line, and why it matters a lot more what the two teams do down the stretch than where the pollsters slot them today. For Texas, I still maintain that this is simple: win the Big 12 regular season and enjoy your trip to San Antonio. It is possible that Texas could win the Big 12 regular season title and, if they sputtered in the Big 12 conference tournament, lose out to Kansas for that No. 1 seed should the Jayhawks win it. But, first of all, history suggests that the committee doesn't use conference tournaments quite like that. And second, in such a scenario I'm inclined to think the Big 12 might get two No. 1 seeds.
As Andrew pointed out this morning, between Texas and Kansas, the Longhorns have the tougher row to hoe the rest of the way, but that presents opportunity along with potential peril. Were Texas to close out the regular season with a win over Iowa State, followed by wins at Boulder, vs K-State, and at Waco, I'd all but book your plans for San Antonio. Again, it depends what happens with everyone else, but from years of experience I'm confident in saying Texas controls its destiny to a large degree.
Where this gets interesting is if Texas drops one of its final four and splits the regular season title with Kansas. The Longhorns would be the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 tournament due to their head-to-head win in Lawrence, but for seeding purposes, the road to San Antonio might suddenly go through Kansas City.
PLAY THE MARCH TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AND YOU COULD WIN A TRIP FOR TWO TO LAS VEGAS! LOOK FOR THE CODE INSIDE SPECIALLY-MARKED PACKAGES 12-PACKS OF BUD LIGHT ENTER CODE AT FACEBOOOK.COM/BUDLIGHT ----- No Purchase Necessary. Open to U.S. residents (except CA & TX) 21+. For a chance to win a Grand or First Prize, Game Period 1 begins 3PM CST on 2/14 & ends 3PM CDT on 3/18. For a chance to win a First Prize only, Game Period 2 begins 3:00:01PM CDT on 3/18 & ends 3PM CDT on 4/30. To participate, obtain a Code from inside specially-marked packages of Bud Light beer or to request a Code without purchase, visit budlight.com/freecode during a Game Period. Limit one (1) free Code request/day/person or email address. To play, text HOOPS to BEERS (23377) & follow prompts or visit budlight.com/freecode & follow instructions. See Official Rules inside package or at budlight.com/freecode for complete details. Void in CA, TX & where prohibited. Enjoy Responsibly – SEE COMPS FOR SPECIFIC FONT FOR THIS ©2011 Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Bud Light® Beer, St. Louis, MO