NCAA Tournament 2013: Weekend Matchups That Will Affect No. 1 Seeds

Jakub RudnikContributor IIIFebruary 28, 2013

Michigan and Michigan State play Sunday in a game with Tournament implications.
Michigan and Michigan State play Sunday in a game with Tournament implications.Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2013 NCAA tournament fewer than three weeks away, every single game is important for teams hoping to get a No. 1 seed. Wins this late in the season carry more weight on Selection Sunday than wins in November or December.

This weekend, there are three matchups between ranked teams that will have a huge impact on who will get a No. 1 seed.

Saturday, March 2: No. 5 Miami (FL) at No. 3 Duke

The first time these teams met, Miami had just cracked the AP Top 25 when they blew out the No. 1 Blue Devils, 90-63, at home. Miami's victory moved them up 11 spots in the poll, while Duke's poor performance dropped them to No. 5 and prompted Dick Vitale to say "layup" nine straight times.

Both teams are in serious contention for a No. 1 seed, and this game will go a long way toward deciding which ACC team is worthy.

Miami had won 14 straight games before they finally fell to Wake Forest on Saturday. In addition to their victory over Duke, they have wins over No. 9 Michigan St. and NC State. They are currently third in RPI and have the fourth toughest strength of schedule.

Duke has lost one less game than Miami, is first in RPI and is second in strength of schedule, but they still have that Miami loss hanging over them. With just four games remaining before the ACC Tournament, a victory Saturday night could help solidify Duke as a No. 1 seed and possibly as the top overall seed.

Saturday, March 2: No. 10 Louisville at No. 12 Syracuse

On Jan. 14, Louisville was ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 with a 15-1 record. They then lost three straight games, including a 70-68 loss to Syracuse.

Since then, the Cardinals have been fighting to get back into the conversation for a No. 1 seed. They have gone 7-1 since, with the only loss coming in the five-overtime thriller to Notre Dame.

Beating Syracuse would give them a third victory over a Top 25 team and avenge their early loss to the Orangemen. The Cardinals are currently fifth in RPI, could get a No. 1 seed with a strong regular season finish and Big East Tournament.

Sunday, March 3: No. 9 Michigan St. at No. 4 Michigan

For the first half of the season, college basketball power in the mitten state looked like it had shifted. Michigan started the season 16-0, then they took over the No. 1 ranking in the AP Poll for the first time in 20 years. At the time, Michigan State was 17-4 and ranked No. 13.

The Wolverines have struggled in the second half of the season, however, going 7-4 in their last 11 games. Their struggles were capped off Wednesday with a loss to Penn State, the Nittany Lions' first conference win of the season.

The Spartans, on the other hand, have won 11 of their last 14. Their only losses were to Indiana (twice) and Ohio State, two teams ranked in the top 16.

Michigan State won by 23 in their first meeting on Feb. 12, and a second win over the Wolverines would do wonders for their resume. Their six losses may be hard to overcome, but they are currently seventh in RPI and have played 10 games against ranked teams this season.

Michigan is still in the mix for a No. 1 seed as well, despite their loss to Penn State, although they have dropped to 11 in RPI. They have one more matchup with Indiana on top of the game against Michigan State. That gives them the opportunity to add two top-10 victories to their resume before the Big 10 Tournament begins.

The Big Ten has been the toughest conference in basketball this season, and the two teams from Michigan give the conference the best chances for a second No. 1 seed, in addition to Indiana.