The defending national champions have the same record they had entering their conference tournament last season, with two major differences: in 2013 that tourney was the Big East, not the spinoff American Athletic Conference, and the Cardinals already had plenty of quality victories under their belt.
This season, Louisville is 6-5 against teams in the top 50 of the latest RPI and 20-0 against everyone else. It's 3-5 against teams that were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 at the time of the game, but that does include victories at Cincinnati and SMU in the last three weeks.
If the Cardinals were to win the AAC tournament as the No. 2 seed (only after losing a coin flip, of all things, to regular-season co-champion Cincinnati) and others falter this week, the title defense could start from the No. 1 line.
Three weeks ago it would have been grounds for a psychiatric exam to say Syracuse wasn't going to be a No. 1 seed. The Orange were 25-0 and even with a loss looked like a shoo-in for the top overall seed.
Then that loss came, but to lowly Boston College of all teams, and at home. That was followed by a "good" loss at Duke, then after a narrow victory at Maryland came two more losses. The first was at Virginia, which put Syracuse's chances of getting a No. 1 seed in serious risk, but the next one at home to Georgia Tech pretty much sealed the deal.
But Syracuse does have street cred, with a 6-2 mark against RPI top 50 teams, and if it can right the ship by knocking off the likes of Duke and either North Carolina or (preferably) Virginia en route to an ACC tourney title, a No. 1 seed might still be in play.
The ACC regular season champion went 16-2 in the league and won 13 straight before falling Sunday at Maryland. That loss put a little tarnish on a Cavaliers team whose conference performance was helping to mask a non-conference showing that included scoring 38 points in a loss to Wisconsin, falling at mid-major Green Bay and getting blown out at bubble team Tennessee.
Similar to how SEC football principals believe there's some sort of automatic bid to the national championship game for its best team, so too do the ACC basketball people seem to feel it should be guaranteed a No. 1 seed. But that didn't happen in 2013, and it will only happen for Virginia if it wins the conference tourney and gets a lot of help elsewhere.
The Badgers started the year 16-0 before losing five of six in a 19-day stretch, but then eight straight wins (including at Big Ten regular season champ Michigan) had Bo Ryan's squad looking like a solid choice for a No. 1 seed.
Then Wisconsin lost at Nebraska in its finale on Sunday, giving it six conference losses and all but eliminating itself from top-seed consideration. Stranger things have happened, and the Big Ten's history of getting No. 1 seeds could work in the Badgers' favor if they run the table in the conference tourney.