NCAA Tournament 2013: Hottest Storylines Headed into Selection Sunday

Mike Shiekman@TheRealShiekFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2013

Conference tournaments are in full swing as NCAA tournament hopefuls make their one final impression before March Madness.

While the mid-major conferences finalize their automatic bids, the major conferences are starting to get into the meat of tournament play.

Bracketology will be a convoluted mess from here on out, so let’s boil the weekend down into the weekend’s top storylines.

It’s never too early for college basketball narratives, and we’re giving them to you right here.

 

Can Syracuse Run the Table to a No. 3 Seed?

The Orangemen underachieved down the stretch, but have rediscovered new life in the Big East tournament. Their Achilles heel this year has been the three-pointer—besides senior James Southerland, no Syracuse player shoots over 30 percent from beyond the arc (min 90 attempts). Southerland carried his weight against Pittsburgh, though, going 6-of-6 en route to a fitting three-point victory. Their shooting from this point on will be key for a higher seed.

With two victories in the books, a Big East tournament run looks more promising. 'Cuse will get their chance against Georgetown, with Notre Dame or Louisville on the horizon.

If they were to win out, three Top 25 wins (including Pittsburgh) will provide a huge boost to their seeding. A No. 3 seed would give Syracuse an easier road with much lower seeds, as opposed to a No. 5 or No. 6 seed's path to a Final Four.

 

Will Duke Challenge for a No. 1 Overall Seed?

If the selection committee weighs Duke’s resume with Ryan Kelly more so than without him, the Blue Devils could make a case for No. 1 overall.

As it has been repeated ad nauseum, the Dukies have not lost a game with Kelly on the floor. With their senior leader, they are 18-0 with wins over Ohio State, Kentucky, VCU and Louisville (without Gorgui Dieng).

In addition, when they play against ACC opponents with their entire rotation, the Blue Devils have been scoring a ridiculous 0.29 points per possession. An ACC Tournament championship with Kelly in tow will equal the finest resume in the country, as ESPN's Dan Dakich notes:

 

By potentially taking out North Carolina and Miami once again, the Blue Devils will prove dominant in the ACC and should leapfrog Indiana and Gonzaga for the easiest road in the tournament.

 

Can Kentucky Finish on the Right Side of the Bubble?

Regardless about how you feel about the defending champions, there’s no denying they would be one of the most talented First Four teams in history and for years to come.

A SEC tournament win against Vanderbilt will do wonders for their resume, while a semifinals matchup against Ole Miss or Texas A&M is a winnable game for these Wildcats.

Kentucky will certainly be a topic of conversation for the selection committee, but it seems they have closed strong enough without Nerlens Noel to end up in the tournament field. These next few days will be telling for their future.

 

Mike Shiekman is a Breaking News Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow his sports musings and random life observations on Twitter.

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