With Selection Sunday six days away, Villanova snags a No. 1 seed
Heading into the final week of the regular season, six teams could lay claim to the fourth No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Five of those teams lost once last week. As such, the sixth, Villanova, finds itself atop the East Region in the final Bracket Watch of the season.
The Wildcats already had a better record than the other teams in the running for the No. 1 seed, but they had just three wins against top-50 RPI teams. Xavier, a team they've defeated twice, is No. 51. Compare that to Kansas, which has 12 top-50 wins, and Wisconsin, which has eight. Villanova's three losses are to Creighton (twice) and Syracuse, but they still needed help to get to the top line. With Kansas, Wisconsin, Duke, Virginia and Syracuse all suffering losses at one point or another last week, the Wildcats got that help.
They're not by any means safe on the top line. While Duke and Syracuse may have trouble earning a No. 1 seed, the Jayhawks, Badgers and Cavaliers could all make a play for the top of the East Region by winning their respective conference tournaments. Michigan, too, could win its way to a top seed if it wins the Big Ten championship. For now, though, Villanova has the inside track for the No. 1 seed in the East, which would allow the Wildcats to play close to home in New York if they make it to the second weekend.
1. Florida (29-2, Last week: South 1) -- The Gators polished off a perfect SEC season with an 84-65 drubbing of Kentucky on Saturday. They're locked in as a No. 1 seed and will almost certainly be the top overall seed in the tournament.
2. Michigan (23-7, LW: East 3) -- The Wolverines won their first outright Big Ten regular season championship since 1986 this season. They need some help but could end up on the top line on Selection Sunday.
3. Cincinnati (26-5, LW: S4) -- The Bearcats finished off their season with wins over Memphis and Rutgers, earning a share of the American Athletic Conference regular season championship with Louisville. This is likely their seed ceiling in the NCAA tournament.
4. Iowa State (23-7, LW: Midwest 4) -- The Cyclones nearly went into the Big 12 tournament on a major slide, but they rallied to beat Oklahoma State on Saturday to avoid a third consecutive defeat. Despite their recent struggles, they're 9-6 against the RPI top 50.
1. Wichita State (34-0, LW: MW1) -- The Shockers became the first team since UNLV in 1991 to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated. There will be doubters until and unless they make a trip to Dallas, but they should be atop the Midwest Region.
2. Wisconsin (25-5, LW: MW2) -- The Badgers would have been the No. 1 seed in the East Region had they won at Nebraska on Sunday, but the loss kept them on the 2-line for now. They will have a strong argument for a top seed if they win the Big Ten tournament.
3. Duke (24-7, LW: S2) -- While the surprising loss at Wake Forest essentially ended the Blue Devils' hopes for a No. 1 seed, they bounced back with an impressive win over North Carolina on Saturday. If they win the ACC tournament, they could move up a line.
4. Oklahoma (23-8, LW: W4) -- An 8-5 record against the RPI top 50, including road wins over Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State, lands the Sooners a No. 4 seed. They head into the Big 12 tournament on a three-game winning streak.
1. Arizona (28-3, LW: W1) -- The Wildcats lost their regular season finale at Oregon, but that is not enough to take them off the top line. They could be in trouble if they fall early in the Pac-12 tournament, but that does not seem likely.
2. Kansas (23-8, LW: E1) -- The Jayhawks are still within range for a No. 1 seed, but they're slotted here after losing at West Virginia on Saturday. A Big 12 tournament championship would give them a great chance to move back to the top line.
3. Virginia (25-6, LW: W3) -- The ACC regular season champions find themselves as a No. 3 seed because they're just 4-4 against the RPI top 50, but the Cavaliers could move up by winning the conference tournament. That could give them two more top-50 wins before the NCAA tournament.
4. Creighton (24-6, LW: S3) -- The Bluejays got back on track with a win over Providence Saturday after losing back-to-back games to Xavier and Georgetown. With four losses outside the top 50, they may need to win the Big East tournament to move up higher than this.
1. Villanova (28-3, LW: West 2) -- Despite being just 5-3 against the RPI top 50, the Wildcats emerged from the scrum to get to the top of the East Region this week. If they win the Big East tournament, they'll likely still be there on Sunday.
2. Syracuse (26-4, LW: E2) -- It has been a rough three weeks for the Orange, but they looked great in taking care of Florida State on Sunday. A healthy Jerami Grant could make a huge difference in the tournament.
3. Louisville (26-5, LW: MW4) -- The Cardinals looked like a Final Four team last week, cruising to a win at SMU and crushing Connecticut at home. They earned a share of the AAC championship, along with Cincinnati, and could get a better seed if they win the conference tournament.
4. San Diego State (27-3, LW: E4) -- The Aztecs won an ugly game against New Mexico on Saturday, giving them their first top-50 win since beating Kansas in early January. A strength of schedule that ranks 105th in the country shouldn't allow them to move much higher than a No. 3 seed.
Last Four In
Nebraska -- After beating Wisconsin on Sunday, the Cornhuskers now have four top-50 wins, including three over teams in the top 30. They appear primed to earn their first bid to the tournament since 1998.
First Four Out
California -- Cal has four top-50 wins, two of which came on the road. The Golden Bears also own a win over Arizona. They can definitely play their way into the field in the Pac-12 tourney.
Tennessee -- The Volunteers are one big win shy of having a better case for the tournament than some of the teams above. Their only chances will be against either Florida or Kentucky in the SEC tournament.
Providence -- The Friars are 1-5 against the RPI top 50 and 5-10 against the top 100. That will not get them into the dance.
Missouri -- Two wins over top-50 teams is not going to be good enough for the Tigers to earn an at-large bid. Like the Volunteers, they likely need to beat Florida or Kentucky to have a good shot at making the field.
The Field of 68
|1. Florida |
16. Weber State/Coastal Carolina
|1. Wichita State |
16. Alabama State/Wofford
|8. Oregon |
|8. Kansas State |
9. Arizona State
|4. San Diego State |
|4. Oklahoma |
|5. Michigan State |
|5. Connecticut |
12. Southern Miss
|3. Cincinnati |
14. North Carolina Central
|3. Duke |
14. North Dakota State
|6. Saint Louis |
|6. Kentucky |
|7. New Mexico |
|7. VCU |
|2. Michigan |
15. Stony Brook
|2. Wisconsin |
15. Boston University
|1. Arizona |
16. Wright State
|1. Villanova |
16. Utah Valley
|8. Iowa |
9. Oklahoma State
|8. George Washington |
|4. Creighton |
13. Georgia State
|4. Iowa State |
13. Stephen F. Austin
|5. Ohio State |
|5. North Carolina |
|3. Virginia |
|3. Louisville |
|6. Memphis |
11. St. Joseph's
|6. Texas |
|7. Massachusetts |
|7. UCLA |
|2. Kansas |
15. Robert Morris
|2. Syracuse |
15. Eastern Kentucky