Selection Sunday 2012: Who Will Be the Top Seeds in the Tournament?

Nick HouserCorrespondent IIMarch 10, 2012

KNOXVILLE, TN - JANUARY 14: Anthony Davis #23 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrate at the end of the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena on January 14, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Kentucky defeated Tennessee 65-62. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

After more than 30 games, four NCAA men's basketball teams have proven to be the most deserving of the prestigious No. 1 seed.

Each team has accumulated dozens of impressive wins. They've amassed the best records in the nation. They've endured tough schedules and satisfied the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).

One day removed from Selection Sunday 2012, at least a dozen teams wait anxiously to find out if they'll be representing the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament as the top seed of a region.

But there can only be four.

The teams in contention are the following: Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Marquette, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Murray State, North Carolina, Ohio State and Syracuse.

The selection committee reviews overall records, strength of schedule and recent performance to lay the framework for its choices. RPI, the combination of overall record and strength of schedule, is factored in as well.

So who has done enough to justify themselves as legitimate No. 1 seeds?

Kentucky Wildcats

There can't be much argument from opposing camps on Kentucky's validation as a No. 1 seed.

With 31 first-place votes in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and 63 first-place votes in the Associated Press' ranking, Kentucky appears to be the undisputed top seed.

Kentucky's one and only loss this season came at the hands of Indiana by just one point.

They've won 23 straight since, by an average of 20 points.

Kentucky plays No. 22 ranked Florida in the SEC Championship semifinals on March 10. They've already beaten the Gators twice this season 78-58 and 74-59.

Freshman forward Anthony Davis has been on a terror all season. Davis' season stat line is impressive: 14.4 PPG, 66.3% FG, 9.8 REB.

Davis is already the SEC Player of the Year. He's one of the most likely candidates for the Naismith College Player of the Year award as well.

With the best record and the best player in the NCAA, Kentucky must be a No. 1 seed.

Syracuse Orange

Syracuse has been very streaky in the last month.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08:  Scoop Jardine #11 of the Syracuse Orange celebrates after defeating the Connecticut Huskies during the quarterfinals of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

After blowing out St. John's by 25 points, Syracuse barely beat Georgetown, Louisville and Connecticut in the regular season.

Even as recently as this week, Syracuse narrowly defeated Connecticut a second time before losing in the Big East Tournament to Cincinnati.

But through all of their blemishes, Syracuse should be higher than Kentucky in the rankings according to the RPI. The Orange had a more difficult schedule to withstand and a very similar record.

Unfortunately the RPI does not factor in the margin by which teams win and Kentucky is slightly higher than Syracuse in that category.

Still, a 31-2 record can't be denied of a No. 1 seed.

North Carolina Tar Heels

North Carolina was shocked earlier in the season by UNLV. Even worse, they were destroyed at Florida State 90-57.

On February 8, North Carolina lost to rival Duke University in a thrilling one-point game in which Duke's Austin Rivers hit the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.

Retribution was attained on March 3 when North Carolina upset then No. 3 seed Duke 88-70.

CHAPEL HILL, NC - DECEMBER 21:  John Henson #31 and Reggie Bullock #35 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate during a game against the Texas Longhorns during play at Dean Smith Center on December 21, 2011 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Gra
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

As of today North Carolina has the third best record of the teams hoping for a top seed. They'll play North Carolina State on Saturday as part of the Atlantic Coast Conference's tournament.

It'll be the magic of threes for North Carolina.

Barring a miracle, the Tar Heels should soundly defeat the Wolfpack for the third time this season to affirm the third best record and the third No. 1 seed in the tournament.

Missouri Tigers

The Associated Press has Kansas at three, North Carolina at four and Missouri at five. The USA Today and ESPN Coaches poll features the same order.

Even the RPI claims Missouri has had the 11th toughest schedule compared to Kansas' sixth most difficult.

So why Missouri over Kansas specifically?

First, Missouri has a better record at 29-4 over Kansas' 27-6.

Second, in head to head Missouri has looked more impressive.

In the Tigers' first meeting with the Jayhawks, they won by three. In the second they lost by just one point in overtime.

COLUMBIA, MO - FEBRUARY 11:  Michael Dixon #11 of the Missouri Tigers celebrates with Marcus Denmon #12 and Steve Moore #32 after scoring during the game against the Baylor Bears on February 11, 2012  at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri.  (Photo by Jami
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Now factor in Baylor and the Big 12 Tournament.

Both teams defeated Baylor twice during the regular season. Unfortunately for Kansas, they were upset by the Bears March 9 in the tournament.

If Missouri beats Baylor for the third time, something Kansas couldn't do, the Tigers deserve to leap the Jayhawks in the standings and steal the fourth No. 1 seed.

Missouri will be only the fourth 30-win team in the nation this season. Murray State is another, but their weak schedule pushes them out of consideration.

It all hinges on a win over Baylor.

What about Duke?

Kansas and Missouri are ranked higher in the polls than Duke. RPI lists Duke as having the fourth most difficult schedule though.

If both the Blue Devils and the Tigers win, or both lose, it's difficult to disregard Missouri's record in favor of Duke.

If Missouri wins and Duke loses to Florida State, a team that has beaten them already during the regular season, Missouri locks up the last No. 1 seed. 

If Duke wins and Missouri loses, the Blue Devils have a fantastic chance of acquiring the final No. 1 seed.

Of course there's always the scenario where Duke and North Carolina advance to meet each other in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and Duke wins.

I'm going to boldly state that won't happen. Based on recent history, Duke is going to have trouble against Florida State and the Tar Heels will get the best of them afterward.