It’s not very likely we’ll see a No. 1 seed bounced in the first round of any NCAA tournament. Then again, this isn’t a normal year.
Highly ranked teams have been victimized time and again this season. March Madness should prove to be even crazier than ever.
Still, there’s a reason no No. 1 seed has ever fallen to a No. 16 seed in the first round. Even if the top-ranked teams cruise through the opening frame, there’s a chance none of the four square off in the championship this year.
Because we don’t know which four teams will earn the No. 1 distinction at tournament time, we have to do some guessing. Let’s take a look at a few teams that have a chance to be a No. 1 seed this year, but may not make it very far in the tournament.
*RPI rankings are from ESPN.
Is there a more enigmatic top team in college basketball this year? The Hoosiers can look phenomenal for stretches, but then absolutely tank against lesser competition (see February 26 against Minnesota).
Victor Oladipo has been masterful this season, but when he’s not playing like one of the nation’s best guards, Indiana struggles to put points on the board. For the Hoosiers to make a deep run in the tournament, their best scorers will have to get hot and stay hot.
Contests against Michigan and Ohio State to close out the regular season will tell a lot about Indiana’s title hopes this year. Seven wins over Top 25 RPI teams is impressive, but inconsistency against lesser competition is troubling.
Don’t expect the Hoosiers to be bounced in the first two rounds, but don’t be surprised if they don’t make it to the fourth and beyond.
In fairness to Michigan and Indiana, the Big Ten has cannibalized itself in regular season play. Along with Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Illinois, no team is safe in conference play.
Michigan looks like one of the top teams in the nation, but all five of the Wolverines’ losses have come on the road. On a neutral floor, it’s hard to predict what Michigan will do in the tournament.
Still, Michigan has several quality wins this year, and expecting a deep tournament run isn’t out of the question. It’s just not guaranteed.
As is the case with so many other top teams this year, expecting a big run in March is premature. The No. 1 seed is not an enviable positioning this year.
I am by no means advocating that Miami isn’t a good team this year. In fact, the Hurricanes look like a potential No. 1 overall candidate.
One thing that really stands out about Miami this year is the team’s bad losses, though. It’s understandable to struggle through a little inconsistency and falter against weaker opponents, but losing by 12 to Florida Gulf Coast and by 15 at Wake Forest isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.
Despite those losses, there’s one more concern about the Hurricanes: inexperience.
Miami has missed the previous four tournaments, and there’s something to be said for experience in March. On the bright side, Shane Larkin is one of the nation's best all-around point guards and Kenny Kadji is a versatile, face-up four man with deadly offensive skills.
With several quality wins and a No. 2 standing in the RPI rankings, there’s plenty of reason to believe Miami can go far in March. It’s just hard to bet on it.
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