NCAA Tournament: Projecting The No.1 Seeds

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NCAA Tournament: Projecting The No.1 Seeds
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It’s only a matter of time until every college basketball broadcast puts up the season resume of mystery “Team A” and compares it to mystery “Team B.”

The question in hand is which team deserves to be in the field of 65?

One team will have a better record against top-25 teams even though their strength of schedule is abysmal. The graphic will show stats about home and road wins, RPI, and any other statistic under the sun.

Mercifully the teams are revealed and we see one team is a mid-major and the other team is from a BCS conference. The pundits exchange pugilistic insults and I am left wondering, “What the hell was the point of that exercise in futility?”

Put ‘em both in the tournament for all I care. Neither team has a shot to win the tournament and until a No. 11 or 12 seed wins it all I really don’t care who the last team in is, as they usually are an 11 or 12 seed.

So why so much debate and uproar about teams that are in all likelihood going to get bounced in the first or second round of the tournament?

The real debate should surround which teams earn the No. 1 seed. Those are the teams that have a legit shot at winning the whole kit and caboodle.

I know, I know. Every now and then the last team to get into the tournament gives us some of the best memories during March Madness and maybe they even cause a tear or two to stream down our face as we watch One Shinning Moment .  It’s a heart warming moment and maybe it gives you a little inspiration. I get all of that. But the No. 1 seed is infinitely more important to the tournament.

A No. 1 seed doesn’t just put a bullseye on your chest it gives you an easier path to the Final Four. The advantage is so massive that people should get bent out of shape over these four selections instead of spewing hot air in an argument about the validity of William & Mary earning an at-large bid.

The No. 1 seed essentially equates to a bye since a No. 16 seed has never pulled off the epic upset. The two seeds have squared off 100 times and every time the No. 16 seed went home with memories of getting downed by one of the elite programs in the country.

And if the No. 1 seed wasn’t important then explain why there has been at least one No. 1 seed in the Final Four every year except 1980 and 2006. If a No. 2 seed was just as valuable then wouldn’t we see them appearing in the Final Four with a frequency that rivals No. 1 seeds?

Perhaps the No. 1 seeds earn an advantage in the Regional Finals by playing in sites closer to home and on courts they are familiar with.

Joe Lunardi is hands down the best at seeding teams and as of right now he has Texas a No. 2 seed in the West. The Longhorns will get to play in Oklahoma City for the opening rounds, but if they get to the Regional Semifinals they will have to travel out to Salt Lake City. But if they close the season strong and earn a No. 1 seed in the South they get to stay in Big XII country and play in Houston for the Regional Finals.

Creating any type of home court advantage in college basketball gives you that much greater of chance to advance in the single-elimination tournament.

The teams currently ranked in the top-10 of the AP poll currently have a combined record of 186-22. Out of the 22 loses only five have occurred on the home floor.

With these factors in mind here are the current projections for the No. 1 seeds. Keep in mind that these are projections and not where teams would be seed at this point of the season.

 

Midwest

Kentucky: The Wildcats recently went down to South Carolina on the road, but there should be little concern that this team won’t bounce back in a big way.

Their next two games are against Vanderbilt and Mississippi, both of whom are currently ranked in the top-25. Luckily the Wildcats get both of those teams on their home court.

The home cooking is exactly what a relatively young team needs to get back on track. If the next two games were on the road Coach John Calipari would have some major concerns. But as it stands John Wall and company get to build their confidence by knocking off two quality opponents at Rupp Arena.

Following those two games Kentucky should roll through the SEC with the regular season crown en route to winning the post season distinction as well.

While Wall is the superstar of the team the success may actually hinge on DeMarcus Cousins avoiding foul trouble. His ability to control the paint on the offensive and defensive end of the floor make this team complete and a very difficult matchup for any team in the country.

East

Duke: Before the hate mail hits the fan I need to make something perfectly clear: I hate Duke. In fact, I also hate North Carolina. To further remove any doubt about being biased on this pick, please understand I am also a Villanova fan.

So why not place the Wildcats of Villanova here or Syracuse?

Well Syracuse can’t go here because the Regional Final is in Syracuse and that would violate home court restrictions. Before you start to tell me Villanova played a Regional Final at the Wachovia Center, which is where they play home games during the regular season please consider the fact that Villanova did not play enough games at the Wachovia Center to consider it a home court.

Down on the Main Line they’re smart enough to think of these things and earn their team an advantage.

As for Villanova not getting the nod in the East, I want to point out their brutal road schedule which includes trips to Georgetown, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Cincinnati.

Since these No.1 seeds are based on projections I just don’t see Villanova finishing strong and I doubt they will win either the Big East regular or post season crowns.

So I ask you this: Is the committee going to ignore a Duke team that finishes their season with over 25 wins and wins both the regular and post season titles in the ACC?

I doubt it. The committee will probably praise the Dukies and award them a No. 1 seed.

South

Texas: This is in my opinion the best and most complete team in college basketball. It is rare to see a team score so well in transition and still find a way to run their offense efficiently in the half court set.

The Longhorns have incredible depth across the board and can beat you with their guards or with the bigs.

The best thing going for Texas is the fact that they only have to play Kansas once and they get them at home. If Texas went to Phog Allen Fieldhouse I believe Kansas would win.

But with Texas getting the Jayhawks on their homecourt I expect Texas to win by double digits and leave a lasting impression in the minds of the committee members.

While Cole Aldrich is a solid college player I believe Dexter Pittman and Damion James will expose him on the offensive and defensive end of the floor.

Many hoop heads are fascinated with the guard play at Villanova and believe guards win you championships. Well this year Texas will change all of that as a dominant inside game will prove to be the difference.

The only way Texas loses this seed is if Kansas can avenge the loss to Texas in the Big XII Tournament. With the Tournament heading back to Kansas City the Jayhawks will gain a slight homecourt advantage. And since we know the value of that it is conceivable that Kansas can steal the No.1 seed from Texas.

West

Syracuse: The Orange are locked in on this spot and it is hard to imagine them not getting a No.1 seed.

Syracuse can easily finish their regular season with 30 or more wins. They currently have 20 wins with 10 games to play and then they get the Big East Tournament, which has been their chance to showcase how good they are every year.

As much as I like Texas, this team has the opportunity to be every bit as good if not better. Similar to Texas they are adaptive in the type of tempo they can play and they also have an incredibly physical and talented low post presence in Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku.

Neither player may be the go to guy, but they add an excellent balance to Syracuse, which frees up marquee player Wesley Johnson and sharpshooter Andy Rautins.

If the East region was not playing its finals in the Carrier Dome Syracuse could easy replace Duke in the East. But as stands with these projections Syracuse is destined to end in the West.

 

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