USA TODAY Sports’ Nicole Auerbach says you should be wary of these teams as they head into the NCAA tournament.
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Kentucky, which tips off in the SEC tournament today against Georgia, is suddenly in the mix to notch the last and most fought after No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament come Selection Sunday.
Kansas’ loss to TCU on Thursday moved the Jayhawks to the third No. 1 behind Villanova and North Carolina, but all three of these teams are relatively locked in as top seeds.
While Oregon currently holds the final spot in today’s bracket, should the Ducks lose in the Pac-12 tournament, that opens the door for a few teams hanging on the No. 2 line. The most hotly debated of those will surely be Gonzaga, and whether the one-loss ‘Zags land a No. 1 or No. 2 seed based on their lack of losses yet lack of eye candy on the résumé. Both Louisville and Baylor were in contention for the final top seed but bowed out of their conference tournaments early. At the No. 3 line, Arizona and UCLA can conceivably land the final top seed should either win the Pac-12 in Las Vegas. But they’re not nearly as well positioned as Oregon.
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That leaves Kentucky (26-5, 16-2 SEC, RPI of 5, top-15 strength of schedule), which has a legitimate shot of winning the SEC tournament but would likely have to face Florida along the way to beat out Gonzaga or a Pac-12 team. Riding an eight-game winning streak, John Calipari’s Wildcats are hotter than any of the teams in the mix for a No. 1. The committee won’t fully consider that, but the momentum can’t hurt.
One thing to keep in mind for today’s bracket: The selection committee looks at the entire body of work. Duke’s big win over Louisville did not vault the Blue Devils to a No. 2 seed. And TCU’s huge win over Kansas did not put them in the field. One win can make a difference, as Kansas State’s victory over Baylor has them positioned to dance. But that’s only because there was enough there on the profile beforehand.
? No. 1 seeds: Kansas, Villanova, North Carolina and Oregon
? Last four in: Providence, Kansas State, USC, Illinois
? First four out: Georgia, Syracuse, Illinois State, Rhode Island
Moving in: Kansas State
Moving out: Iowa
? Others considered for at-large bids (in no particular order): California, TCU, Indiana, Ole Miss
? On life support: Houston, Clemson, Iowa
? No longer considered for at-large: UConn, Texas, Charleston, New Mexico, Boise State, LaSalle, Davidson, Chattanooga, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Joseph’s, BYU, Oklahoma, Charleston, Nebraska, Temple, North Carolina State, Stanford, Nevada, Texas A&M, Memphis, Utah, Auburn, Texas Tech, Georgetown, Penn State, Tennessee, Ole Miss, TCU, Alabama, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech
? Multi-bid conferences: ACC (9), Big Ten (8), Big East (7), Big 12 (6), SEC (5), Pac-12 (4), A-10 (2), AAC (2), WCC (2).
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? Or highest RPI from projected one-bid conferences – (23 total): Vermont (America East), Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun), North Dakota (Big Sky), Winthrop (Big South), UC Irvine (Big West), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), Middle Tennessee State (Conference USA), Northern Kentucky (Horizon), Princeton (Ivy League), Iona (MAAC), Akron (MAC), N.C. Central (MEAC), Wichita State (Missouri Valley), Nevada (Mountain West), Mount Saint Mary’s (Northeast), Jacksonville State(Ohio Valley), Bucknell (Patriot), East Tennessee State (Southern), New Orleans (Southland), Texas Southern (SWAC), South Dakota State (Summit), Texas-Arlington (Sun Belt), CSU Bakersfield (WAC).
- Banned from participating: Southern Mississippi, Alcorn State, Savannah State, Northern Colorado
- Transition Schools, ineligible for the tourney: Abilene Christian (Southland), Grand Canyon (WAC), Incarnate Word (Southland), Massachusetts-Lowell (American East)
Note: All RPI and statistical data is used from WarrenNolan.com.
About our bracketologist: Shelby Mast has been projecting the field since 2005 and has finished as one of the top 5 national bracketologists for his website, Bracket W.A.G. He’s predicted for The Indianapolis Star, collegeinsider.com and is an inaugural member of the Super 10 Selection Committee. Follow him on Twitter @BracketWag.
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