NCAA Tournament Handicapping: The Battle for the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 3/10/2010
Some teams will be looking for more than just winning their conference championship this week during college basketball’s championship week. There are No. 1 and No. 2 seeds up for grabs. In the case of the No. 1 seeds, they are not exactly up for grabs as three teams have all but solidified their spot.
Syracuse, Kansas and Kentucky are virtual locks for the No. 1 seeds. Considering the body of work of those three teams, even colossal upsets in their respective conference tournaments would not be enough to knock them down to a No. 2 seed.
The race for the fourth top seed is a little interesting. There are three teams who look to have the inside track. Duke, West Virginia and Ohio State all have impressive resumes and all have been playing strong lately.
As of right now most NCAA Tournament projections have Duke slotted into that fourth No. 1 seed. They won the ACC regular season and are ranked No. 4 in the country. The one knock of them is a recent loss at Maryland and playing in an ACC that is having a down year.
Fifth-ranked Ohio State has a strong resume and closed the regular season on a 13-2 run. The one problem is that those losses were to Purdue and West Virginia, two teams also in the running for a top seed. Purdue gets crossed off because they are a different team without Robbie Hummel. Looking at West Virginia, the Mountaineers have the best chance out of any team to play their way into that spot. If they can win the Big East Conference Tournament they should easily get a No. 1 seed. A recent win at Villanova vaulted West Virginia into the discussion.
A loss in anywhere but the title game would certainly make West Virginia a No. 2 seed. Right now it looks like the last No. 1 seed is Duke’s to lose. The only way they can lose that is if West Virginia surges towards a Big East title this week or if they lose early in the ACC Tournament.
There are a few more teams in the running for the No. 2 seeds. Obviously, Duke, Ohio State or West Virginia would be two seeds—most likely the two who do not earn the No. 1 seed. The other two spots look to be up in the air between Purdue, Kansas State, Michigan State, Villanova and Pitt.
The Robbie Hummel situation is really hurting Purdue but they are still ranked No. 6 in the country. It looks like Purdue and Michigan State will meet in the Big Ten semifinals, the winner of that game should earn a No. 2 seed. Villanova and Pitt have struggled down the stretch but both have some really impressive wins. Either could lock up a No. 2 seed by making a run to the Big East title game. Even a loss in that game should be enough to vault them to No. 2.
There has been a lot of discussion about Kansas State earning a top seed, but a blowout loss at Kansas and a curious loss at home to Iowa State have put the kibosh on that. The Wildcats can expect to be seeded No. 3 barring an upset win over Kansas and a Big 12 title.
Right now the No. 2 seeds appear to be West Virginia, Ohio State and then two of their conference counterparts, either Pitt or Villanova from the Big East and either Michigan State or Purdue from the Big Ten.
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