As mentioned in this post last week, there are no elite teams this season.
Most seasons there are a two or three teams that clearly stand out from the rest. This year, I’d argue there are none. Kansas and Kentucky are solid, don’t get me wrong, but both are beatable teams. If your favorite team top 16 or even top 32, I doubt you fear the Jayhawks, the Wildcats, or anyone else.
Once you throw in Purdue, who is now without Robbie Hummel for the rest of the season, three of the projected No. 1 seeds lost last week. Kansas lost at Oklahoma State, Kentucky fell at Tennessee, and Purdue fell to Michigan State in West Lafayette. This should be a wide-open, upset filled NCAA tournament.
Major conferences enter their final week of regular season play, while smaller conferences start their conference tournaments this week. Selection Sunday is less than two weeks away!
The top teams are gunning for protected seeds in the these four regionals: Syracuse, St. Louis, Houston, and Salt Lake City. With no west coast teams vying for No. 1 or No. 2 seeds, the weakest No. 1 seed will likely be ‘protected’ but their regional location will be a long way from home.
The other interesting aspect of slotting the No. 1 seeds is the Syracuse Orange. Even if Syracuse earns a top seed, they are not allowed to be place in the Syracuse Regional. Teams are not permitted to play in sites in which their university is the host school. So, Jim Boheim’s club should get to stay in Buffalo for the first couple of rounds but must be shipped to St. Louis, Houston, or Salt Lake for the second weekend. It will be interesting to see how the committee handles the Orange and how their placement affects the other three No. 1 seeds.
First and second round sites include Providence, Buffalo, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, San Jose, and Spokane.
Here are my updated guesses at the top 16 teams in the NCAA tournament.
These are if the season ended today. They are listed by strength within each seed as well.
No. 1: Syracuse, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke
No. 2: Purdue, Kansas State, Villanova, West Virginia
No. 3: Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, New Mexico
No. 4: Vanderbilt, Butler, BYU, Pittsburgh
Next Four: Temple, Tennessee, Georgetown, Baylor
Big 12 Bids (7)
Lock: Kansas (1), Kansas State (2), Baylor (5), Texas (6), Texas A&M (6), Missouri (7)
Likely: Oklahoma State (10)