Da\'Sean Butler (left) and Evan Turner (right) rocked their conference tournaments with buzzer-beating threes. (AP)
NEW YORK -- When West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler hit the banked-in buzzer-beater that rocked the Big East tournament on Thursday night, Ohio State's Evan Turner was watching it on television, 730 miles away in Indianapolis. They were teammates this summer at the World University Games in Serbia, and are still friends, so when Turner was presented with the opportunity to make some last-second March magic of his own -- about 15 hours later -- he said he "just wanted to second" Butler's shot.
What he actually did was one-up it, drilling a 37-foot three as time expired, without needing help from the backboard. Turner's heroics sunk Michigan's hopes of playing its way into the NCAA tournament, just as Butler's banker killed Cincinnati's run at an automatic bid. But those miracle shots didn't just impact the Wolverines and Bearcats: The team that could potentially be most affected is Duke.
From a bracketology standpoint, we've reached the hour where one shot can affect seeding position. Kansas, which plays in the Big 12 semifinals today, and Kentucky, which advanced to the SEC semis by beating Alabama on Friday afternoon, are locks for No. 1 seeds. Syracuse is a near-lock for a No. 1, although I would advise the Orange to keep any bad news about Arinze Onuaku's quad tendon quiet until after the selection committee is finished. Better to be evaluated at 100 percent than without one of your interior enforcers.
Duke is temporarily the fourth No. 1, but there's a chance West Virginia (by winning the Big East) or Ohio State (by winning the Big Ten) could usurp them on the top line of the S-Curve. Especially if the Blue Devils don't win the ACC tournament on Sunday.
Let's compare the three teams' resumes: Duke (2) 27-5 13-3 (1) 1-4 7-4 Maryland, Clemson (x2), Gonzaga N.C. State Ohio State (29) 25-7 14-4 (1) 4-4 5-4 Purdue, Wisconsin, Cal, Michigan State Michigan West Virginia (5) 25-6 13-5 (2) 4-4 6-4 Villanova, Pitt, A&M, Georgetown, Ohio St. None
vs. RPI Top 25
vs. RPI Top 50
Maryland, Clemson (x2), Gonzaga
Ohio State (29)
Purdue, Wisconsin, Cal, Michigan State
West Virginia (5)
Villanova, Pitt, A&M, Georgetown, Ohio St.
The NCAA tournament selection committee will cut Ohio State some slack for its losses while Turner, the likely national player of the year, was injured. But WVU is in much better position for a No. 1: It beat the Buckeyes head-to-head in Morgantown, has no bad losses, an RPI in the top five, and a stronger out-of-league resume. The Mountaineers, with a Big East title trophy to their name, will have a stronger overall resume than Duke, no matter what happens in Greensboro this weekend.
I'd suggest to the Blue Devils that they beat Miami and
Maryland Georgia Tech (or N.C. State) over the next two days, and leave their seeding as little up to chance as possible. We've all seen what Butler and Turner are capable of at the 11th hour.