The NCAA tournament launches brackets nationwide, but the 10 members of the selection committee hold all the power in their hands. Bubble teams make for tough decisions, while the top seeds are more clear-cut, but some candidates will get snubbed for a top seed.
According to TeamRankings.com, which runs a litany of computer simulations to try to project the tournament bracket, only 12 teams have a shot at the No. 1 seeds, and the four front-runners are quite clear.
|Projections for Top Seeds in the Tournament|
|AP Rank||Team||Record||Chance of No. 1 Seed|
|9||San Diego State||27-3||6%|
Understandably, the four top-ranked teams have the inside track to the No. 1 seeds: Florida (South), Wichita State (Midwest), Villanova (East) and Arizona (West). The Gators are the complete package and will be seeking a third national championship in nine years. They haven't lost since Dec. 2.
The NCAA rankers are not impressed by perfect seasons, but it should carry enough weight with the selection committee to make second-ranked Wichita State a No. 1 seed despite the weak schedule. The Shockers secured the Missouri Valley title and completed the first undefeated season heading into the tourney since UNLV did it in 1991.
That year, the Runnin' Rebels sprinted to the Final Four, where they were bounced by that year's champion, Duke. The Shockers were already in the Final Four last season, and they'll be eager to improve on that result, which saw them fall 72-68 to eventual champion Louisville.
In addition to Syracuse's two losses to open March, Duke, Kansas, Wisconsin and Virginia each added to their loss column. Former player and current analyst Greg Anthony had Virginia among his No. 1 seeds, but that was before the Cavaliers fell to Maryland in overtime to end the regular season.
Those results served to bolster Villanova's chances of a top seed in the East. However, while the loss to Syracuse was understandable, the pair of games 'Nova dropped against Creighton are hard to ignore.
As noted by Michael Beller of Sports Illustrated, Villanova has plenty of competition to deal with:
The Jayhawks, Badgers and Cavaliers could all make a play for the top of the East Region by winning their respective conference tournaments. Michigan, too, could win its way to a top seed if it wins the Big Ten championship. For now, though, Villanova has the inside track for the No. 1 seed in the East.
The Wildcats are at the top of the no-longer-marquee Big East, and anything less than the conference title will be considered a major disappointment.
Out West, Arizona is the only Top 25 team in the Pac-12, but the Wildcats wrapped up the regular season with a loss to Oregon. The Ducks have won seven in a row, and if 'Zona fails to win the conference tournament, that will sink its seeding.
The Orange now have Jerami Grant back at their disposal, and that factor combined with a victory in the ACC tournament could possibly vault them into a No. 1 seed.
Selection Sunday will answer all the seeding questions and spawn plenty of screeds about snubs, but after that it's all up to the players. Whether the top 12 slot in first, second or third, six wins separate them all from the ultimate glory of cutting down the net.
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