March Madness 2013: How Do Recent Losses Affect Potential Seeding for Top Teams?
2012-13 will go down as one of the most unpredictable seasons in college basketball history.
The thought of an undefeated season is a distant memory. Only one current AP Top 25 team, No. 2 Gonzaga, has two losses, while none of the teams to hold the coveted No. 1 ranking so far have fewer than three.
And after a host of recent losses, many top 10 teams could see their hopes for a top seed fall by the wayside.
The most high-profile team to bite the dust in the past week is Indiana, which will almost assuredly lose its spot atop the Top 25 after a 77-73 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday night. Though the Hoosiers had been ranked No. 1 in the last four AP polls, Gonzaga, conference rival Michigan and either Duke or Miami (FL) could all surpass them in next week's poll. Tom Crean's team will have to rely on solid fundamental play and a little luck to reassert themselves as a top seed in the season's final weeks.
Miami, meanwhile, could see itself fall out of bidding for the top 10 entirely by the end of this week. A loss to Wake Forest last week dropped the Hurricanes from No. 2 to No. 5, while a key matchup with No. 3 Duke on Saturday has major implications for both teams. The winner will have a signature victory to rely upon come seeding time, while the loser will likely drop out of the AP Top Five altogether and have to play catch up in its final few games of the season.
Michigan State is in full-on panic mode after falling from No. 4 to No. 9 in this week's poll. The Spartans could now end the week on a three-game losing streak. After dropping games to Indiana and Ohio State last week, they'll take on rival Michigan on Sunday, with the loser almost sure to kiss its hopes for a top two seed goodbye.
But the Wolverines have been shaky of late as well, going 3-3 in their past six games and losing to Michigan State on February 12.
As for Florida and Syracuse, too many losses in the past few weeks have already ended their hopes for anything better than a third seed. The Gators fell to unranked Tennessee, 64-58, on Tuesday night, after a 63-60 loss to unranked Missouri last week.
Meanwhile, Syracuse is now 4-5 in its last nine games, including losses to No. 11 Georgetown last Saturday and No. 22 Marquette on Monday.
But if there's one lesson to be taken out of this college basketball season, it's that it only takes one or two games for a team's prospects to change entirely. Gonzaga could blow it against BYU on Thursday night, Duke could lose its high-profile matchup with Miami and the upward-trending Kansas and Georgetown teams could fail to capitalize on their opportunities this week.
If any of those things happen, this week's losers may be able to breathe easy as the week becomes a write-off. Putting faith in another team to lose isn't the easiest way to recover from a defeat, but if there's ever been a season to do it, this might be the one.
For more from Christopher Leone, follow @christopherlion on Twitter.
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