Saturday, March 14, 2009

#1 Seeds - Does Anyone Want Them?

Coming into Championship Week, there were nine teams that had a real shot at getting a #1 seed: UConn, Pitt, Louisville, Michigan State, Memphis, Kansas, Oklahoma, UNC, and Duke.

We are now just about 24 hours from Selection Sunday, and only three teams have made it through the week unscathed (thus far, Duke and Louisville still have to play in their respective finals). UConn, Pitt, Kansas, and Oklahoma all lost in their first games in their respective tournaments, while Michigan State and UNC lost in the semi's.

So what does that mean for #1 seeds? Who gets them? Let's take a look at some of the teams:

  • Louisville: If the Cardinals win tonight against Syracuse, they have to be the #1 over all seed. Have to. That would mean that they won both the Big East regular season and tournament titles, the only team from a major conference that would be able to make that claim. Even if they lose, just advancing to the Big East finals should guarantee them a #1 seed. Their overall profile is not as good as some of the other schools - they have an RPI of 7, they are 8-3 against the top 50 and 15-5 against the top 100, and they are 8-1 on the road - so if they don't win tonight, it will depend on what else happens around the country.
  • UNC: The Heels have not quite lived up to expectations this season, but they still have put together a resume worthy of a #1 seed. Winning the ACC regular season alone should probably be enough, but they also have put together an impressive resume - 3 in the RPI, three top 5 RPI wins (Michigan State, Duke x2), 5-2 against the top 50, 14-4 against the top 100, and 8-2 on the road. UNC is a lock for a #1 seed, it just depends on where at this point.
  • Pitt: The Panthers also should be a lock for a #1 seed, and have a decent argument at being the #1 overall seed. First of all, they are the top team in the RPI. They have 7 wins against the RPI top 25. They are 8-3 against the top 50, 16-4 against the top 100, and 7-3 on the road. Only one of their losses has come outside the top 21 teams. That is a very strong resume, and if Louisville does happen to lose tonight, the Panthers have a legitimate argument at the #1 overall seed.
Beyond these three, it looks like the last spot is going to come down to Memphis and UConn:
  • Memphis: The Tigers are an interesting case. They lost their three marquee games early in the season, but a line-up change in the mid-season (sliding Tyreke Evans over to the point) has led to a 25 game winning streak, which includes wins at Tennesse and (essentially) at Gonzaga by 18. Let's look at their resume - eighth in the RPI, four top 50 wins (the other two are UAB), 4-2 against the top 50, 15-3 against the top 100, and 10-1 on the road. Maybe the most telling stat is that Memphis is just 2-2 against the Big East, and they didn't play a team that finished in the top 5 (although Syracuse is looking pretty good right now). UConn went 15-3 against the Big East. Advantage Huskies, right? Maybe not. The two teams that beat Memphis (Georgetown and Syracuse) also beat UConn. It may come down to the Tigers and the Huskies.
  • UConn: The Huskies blew a great opportunity to lock down a #1 seed in the Big East tournament. They still might get one, but it is looking like more and more of a long shot. They do have a solid enough resume. They have eight top 50 wins, going 8-3 against top 50 opponents and an impressive 17-4 record against the top 100. Of their four losses, only one (Georgetown) has come from outside the top 11. They are 10-1 on the road, with the one loss being at Pitt. But UConn has lost two in a row and three of six heading into the dance.
So what do you think? I have to give the slightest of edges to the Huskies. They went 15-3 in a conference that got seven teams into the dance, while Memphis rolled through a league that did not have one other serious bubble candidate. UConn had eight top 50 wins, while Memphis had just four. But the biggest reason is I just don't think that Memphis would do as well in the Big East as UConn did. Memphis routinely scored in the 50's and 60's against C-USA foes. What do you think they would do against a Louisville or Pitt or UConn, a team that is just as big and athletic as they are?

No comments: