Florida on pace for No. 1 overall seed, but that won't mean much
The last time Florida lost was a week after Thanksgiving. Since then, the Gators have defeated Kansas, Memphis and Kentucky. They haven't lost with their current roster all healthy and eligible, and their only two losses came on the road to Wisconsin (by six points on Nov. 12) and Connecticut (by one point on Dec. 2). In other words, Florida, which just ascended to the No. 1 spot in the AP rankings, now has the inside track on being the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament as well.
The last two national champions -- Kentucky in 2012 and Louisville in 2013 -- began their runs from a similar spot but being No. 1 may not help much this year in such a deep field. At the moment, the most likely team to be paired as the No. 2 in the Gators' region is Duke. That the same team that just beat the squad Florida replaced at No. 1 in the top 25, the Syracuse Orange, and that is second in the nation in offensive efficiency.
Despite the outcome the past two years, being No. 1 overall doesn't mean much historically either. Since the selection committee began awarding No. 1 overall seeds back in 2004, only one other team has gone on to win the national title: Florida in 2007, the second of its back-to-back titles. As the table below shows, only two others made the Final Four.
|No. 1 Overall Seed in NCAA Tournament|
Of course, with three weeks remaining before Selection Sunday, there's no guarantee the Gators will maintain their grip on No. 1. No matter who gets the top overall seed, it will be a point of pride and little else. Consider it college basketball's version of the President's Trophy, which goes to the NHL team that finishes with the most points in the regular season. It won't mean that much once the tournament begins.
1. Florida (25-2, Last week: South 1): The Gators have won 19 in a row and should keep that winning streak intact over the next two games -- at Vanderbilt and home vs. LSU -- leading into the regular season finale in Gainesville against Kentucky.
2. Duke (22-6, LW: S2): The Blue Devils went 2-1 in a busy week, bouncing back after losing to North Carolina with a huge win over Syracuse. Duke shouldn't have a problem in its only game this week, a home date with Virginia Tech, the worst team in the ACC.
3. Creighton (23-4, LW: S3): The Bluejays barely survived a challenge from Seton Hall on Sunday. Their final three regular season opponents will all actually be happy to see them. Xavier, Georgetown and Providence need the type of resume-building win toppling Creighton would provide.
4. Michigan (19-7, LW: S4): Caris LeVert scored 23 points in Sunday's big win over Michigan State. His emergence, along with Nik Stauskas' development into a multi-faceted threat, has made the Wolverines the Big Ten's best offensive team.
1. Syracuse (25-2, LW: East 1): It was a rough week for the Orange, who lost their first two games of the year. Losing at Duke is nothing to be ashamed of, but falling to a 6-19 Boston College club at home ranks among the worst losses in recent memory by a No. 1 team.
2. Villanova (24-3, LW: E2): The Wildcats won a game in the 80s and another in the 50s last week. That sort of adaptability will be a weapon for them in the tournament.
3. Cincinnati (24-4, LW: West 2): Let's not overreact to the Louisville loss. It was by a point and to a team ranked third on KenPom and 35th in RPI. The Bearcats still have six wins against teams in the RPI top 50.
4. Michigan State (22-6, LW: W3): The Spartans have lost three times in their last five games, but they still have six top-50 RPI wins and just two losses to teams outside the top 30.
1. Wichita State (29-0, LW: Midwest 1): The Shockers won two more easy ones last week and now have an 86.1-percent chance to finish the season undefeated, according to KenPom. Their final two games are against Bradley and Missouri State.
2. Kansas (21-6, LW: MW2): The Jayhawks looked like an absolute force in destroying Texas, 85-54. They now have 11 wins against the RPI top 50, the most in the country.
3. Virginia (23-5, LW: W4): The Cavaliers are 15th in RPI and sixth on KenPom. That makes them one of 11 teams to rank in the top-15 in both ratings systems. After Syracuse's losses last week, Virginia is now in first place in the ACC.
4. Saint Louis (25-2, LW: S5): It's finally time to give the Billikens their due. They have four top-50 RPI wins, nine top-100 wins, and their two losses are to Wisconsin and Wichita State.
1. Arizona (25-2, LW: W1): The Wildcats had lost two of their last four games entering the week and it very nearly became three of five, but they escaped Utah with an overtime win and then routed Colorado in Boulder. Those wins, combined with UCLA's loss to Stanford, gave Arizona a two-game lead in the Pac-12 with four games left in the regular season.
2. Wisconsin (22-5, LW: MW4): Forget their No. 14 AP ranking, or the fact that they lost five of six just a few weeks ago. The Badgers have now won five straight, including Saturday's road win over then-No. 15 Iowa, has the secod-most top-100 wins in the country and is No. 5 in the RPI. Wisconsin also boasts eight wins against the RPI top 50 -- home victories over Michigan State and Florida, road wins over Michigan, Iowa and Virginia and a neutral-court win over Saint Louis -- and closes with four very winnable games: Indiana, at Penn State, Purdue and at Nebraska.
3. Iowa State (21-5, LW: E3): The Cyclones' win over Texas last week was their eighth over a team in the top 50 in RPI, and they've lost just once to a team outside the top 25.
4. Louisville (23-4, LW: E5): Rick Pitino's squad finally got that signature win it had been seeking all season by winning at Cincinnati on Saturday. The Cardinals' next game is at home against a terrible Temple team before they close the regular season with three tests: road games at Memphis and SMU and the finale in Louisville against UConn.
Last Four In
Georgetown: Back-to-back losses had the Hoyas on the ropes, but Saturday's win over Xavier preserved their spot in the field.
Saint Joseph's: The Hawks have lost just twice in the last seven weeks and boast wins over VCU and Massachusetts in that same window. They have to stay the course against Dayton and St. Bonaventure this week.
Oklahoma State: Marcus Smart clearly gave this team a spark in his return on Saturday, putting up 16 points, 10 assists and six steals in a win over Texas Tech. The Cowboys won't be a Last Four In team on Selection Sunday though. With games against Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State remaining, they'll either be safely in, or out of, the picture.
First Four Out
Providence: The hardest omission from the field this week. The Friars have one great win this season, a 13-point victory over Creighton on Jan. 18, but they are just 2-4 against the top 50.
Richmond: The Spiders kept their tourney hopes alive by beating LaSalle on Saturday, but they'll need more than two top-50 wins to make the field. They have just one chance left to get one of those in the regular season when VCU visits on March 6.
Tennessee: The Volunteers were once safely in the tournament field, but they now have more losses to teams outside the top 100 in RPI (2) than they do wins over top-50 outfits (1).
Nebraska: While the Cornhuskers likely got the attention of the committee by beating Michigan State on February 16, they have just one more opportunity for a resume-building win in the regular season. That's against Wisconsin in their season finale. They may need to do some damage in the Big Ten tournament to earn a bid.
The Field of 68
|1. Syracuse |
16. Robert Morris/VMI
|1. Arizona |
|8. VCU |
9. Arizona State
|8. Kansas State |
9. George Washington
|4. Michigan State |
13. Stephen F. Austin
|4. Louisville |
13. Southern Miss
|5. San Diego State |
|5. Iowa |
12. UW-Green Bay
|3. Cincinnati |
14. UC Santa Barbara
|3. Iowa State |
14. Georgia State
|6. Oklahoma |
|6. North Carolina |
|7. UCLA |
|7. Connecticut |
|2. Villanova |
15. Weber State
|2. Wisconsin |
|1. Wichita State |
|1. Florida |
16. North Carolina Central/New Mexico State
|8. Pittsburgh |
|8. Stanford |
9. New Mexico
|4. Saint Louis |
|4. Michigan |
|5. Texas |
|5. Kentucky |
12. Saint Joseph's/Oklahoma State
|3. Virginia |
|3. Creighton |
14. North Dakota State
|6. Ohio State |
|6. Memphis |
|7. SMU |
|7. Massachusetts |
|2. Kansas |
15. Boston University
|2. Duke |