Wichita State overcomes lack of quality wins with undefeated record
Wichita State may be one of three remaining undefeated teams in college basketball, but that doesn't mean it has one of the three best resumes. The Shockers best win is its five-point victory at Saint Louis in December. Outside of that, they own just one win against a top-50 RPI team. Do they have a more impressive body of work than Villanova, Florida, Kansas or Wisconsin, the four No. 2-seeds in this week's Bracket Watch? They probably don't. And that won't matter for seeding purposes in March if they're undefeated.
If the Shockers enter the Big Dance with an unblemished record, they will be one of the four top seeds. They just cleared their first legitimate hurdle last week, putting a 20-point drubbing on Indiana State at home. They visit Illinois State, a team that is 4-2 in the Missouri Valley Conference, this week. Should the Shockers win that game, they will likely be able to rest easy until back-to-back road games at Indiana State and Northern Iowa early next month. If they get through those games unscathed and win their conference tournament, the stats still may not support them being a 1-seed, but that's exactly where they'll be.
The Top Four Seeds
1. Arizona (18-0, Last week: West 1) -- The Wildcats rose to the top of Ken Pomeroy's rankings this week and will be heavy favorites to move to 20-0 with home games against Colorado and Utah.
2. Florida (15-2, LW: Midwest 2) -- The Gators got Casey Prather back over the weekend, and he promptly scored 21 points in a win over Auburn.
3. Iowa State (14-3, LW: East 2) -- They may have lost their last three games, but the Cyclones are still 4-3 against the top 50 teams in the RPI. That is good enough to keep them on the 3-line.
4. Cincinnati (17-2, LW: MW6) -- Mick Cronin has the Bearcats on top of the American Athletic Conference, a status that likely won't be tested until they visit Louisville on January 30.
1. Syracuse (18-0, LW: E1) -- Tyler Ennis pushed the Orange past Pittsburgh with six points in the final two minutes. They go on the road twice this week, though they'll be big favorites against Miami and Wake Forest.
2. Wisconsin (16-2, LW: MW1) -- The Badgers allowed 75 points in a loss to Indiana before giving up 77 while falling at home to Michigan. It's true that Bo Ryan hasn't had an offense like the one he has in a long time, but he hasn't had a defense this leaky, either.
3. Oklahoma State (15-3, LW: MW3) -- A two-point loss at surging Kansas is not enough to push the Cowboys below a 3-seed. Their only game this week is against West Virginia on Saturday.
4. Massachusetts (16-1, LW: South 5) -- Chaz Williams starred in leading UMass to a comeback victory over George Mason last week. The Minutemen look like co-favorites with Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10.
1. Michigan State (17-1, LW: S1) -- The Spartans claim the top spot in their home region after wins over Northwestern and Illinois, both at less than full strength, last week.
2. Villanova (16-1, LW: S2) -- The battle for early-season supremacy in the new Big East takes place Monday, with the Wildcats hosting Creighton. You don't hear much about Villanova's defense, but it ranks eighth in efficiency on KenPom.com.
3. San Diego State (16-1, LW: S3) -- Do the Aztecs have enough offense to make serious noise in the tournament? We may not have an answer to that until we see them play in March.
4. Pittsburgh (16-2, LW: S7) -- The Panthers' two losses this season have come at Syracuse and on a neutral court against Cincinnati. They play Clemson and Maryland this week before their first ACC showdown with Duke.
1. Wichita State (19-0, LW: W2) -- The Shockers may not have the greatest resume in terms of who they've beaten, but it will be impossible to keep them off the 1-line if they enter the tournament undefeated.
2. Kansas (13-4, LW: S4) -- The Jayhawks are coming off possibly the most impressive week any team has posted this season, beating Iowa State in Ames and Oklahoma State. That they managed to score 80 points against the Cowboys while Andrew Wiggins had just three tells you just how dangerous they are.
3. Iowa (15-3, LW: E5) -- The Hawkeyes are third in adjusted offense on KenPom.com and their three losses are on a neutral court to Villanova and on the road against Iowa State and Wisconsin. They'll get a test on Wednesday against a resurgent Michigan team.
4. Kentucky (13-4, LW: E3) -- The Wildcats are flawed, but so are all the teams that could have been slotted here. This should be an academic week for them, as they host Texas A&M and Georgia.
Last Four In
Texas -- The Longhorns picked up a season-changing win against Iowa State last week. It was their first victory over a top-50 RPI team this year.
Tennessee -- The Volunteers get a chance to get back into the bracket with a home game against Arkansas on Wednesday.
Georgetown -- Losing to Seton Hall at home has the Hoyas stuck in a play-in game. A looming three-game stretch against Creighton, Villanova and Michigan State could knock them out entirely.
Stanford -- The Cardinal own a solid win at Oregon in their conference but still have more work to do. They'll head down south to take on UCLA and USC this week.
First Four Out
BYU -- The Cougars are just 1-4 against the RPI top 50 and will probably have to get wins over Saint Mary's and/or Gonzaga to get in the big dance.
Louisiana Tech -- Conference USA is probably a one-bid conference. Right now, Southern Miss owns that bid by virtue of its head-to-head win over the Bulldogs.
Arizona State -- The Sun Devils are 0-3 against the RPI top 50 and their best win is over DePaul. That just won't cut it.
Indiana -- The win over Wisconsin will certainly help the Hoosiers' chances, but not as much as the home loss to Northwestern will hurt them.
The Field of 68
|1. Arizona |
16. Nofolk State/Chicago State
|1. Syracuse |
16. Robert Morris/Murray State
|8. Virginia |
9. Saint Louis
|8. UCLA |
|4. Cincinnati |
13. Southern Miss
|4. Massachusetts |
13. Stephen F. Austin
|5. Duke |
12. UW-Green Bay
|5. Memphis |
|3. Iowa State |
14. Boston University
|3. Oklahoma State |
14. Georgia State
|6. Michigan |
|6. Oregon |
|7. Cal |
10. North Carolina
|7. Gonzaga |
10. Florida State
|2. Florida |
|2. Wisconsin |
15. Stony Brook
|1. Michigan State |
16. Western Carolina
|1. Wichita State |
|8. Connecticut |
9. Kansas State
|8. Xavier |
|4. PIttsburgh |
|4. Kentucky |
|5. Baylor |
|5. Creighton |
|3. San Diego State |
|3. Iowa |
|6. Ohio State |
|6. Louisville |
|7. Colorado |
10. Virginia Commonwealth
|7. George Washington |
10. New Mexico
|2. Villanova |
15. UC Irvine
|2. Kansas |
15. Northern Colorado