San Diego State making case for No. 1 seed; Big 12 full of surprises
Colorado is off to a great start in Big 12 play, while K-State and Baylor are hurting
The Big East currently has 11 teams gunning for an NCAA tournament bid
The increased parity around the SEC could result in suppressed seeding in March
|No. 1 Seed Candidates|
If bracket life were 100 percent objective, San Diego State would be a No. 1 seed this week. Losses by Duke and Syracuse caused a thorough re-evaluation of the top two seed lines and yielded some fairly interesting results. The chart to the right lists the 1-seed candidates in RPI order.
Yes, the Aztecs are tied for the best top-50 mark, have by far the best road/neutral record and have the best average RPI for its wins. So why did they end up fifth on this week's S-curve? Well, Kansas and Ohio State are also unbeaten and, in my mind, better teams at this point than San Diego State. Both the Jayhawks and Buckeyes have much greater scoring margins than the Aztecs, meaning they have been much more dominant against a somewhat softer schedule.
As for the two one-loss teams that ended up on the 1-seed line, Pitt and Syracuse both have three top-25 wins and Syracuse gets an asterisk for its loss Monday, having played tough without Kris Joseph.
I think this is fair enough, for now. That said, I thought about it. Hard. Other bracket projections do have the Aztecs as a No. 1 seed this week, and you definitely could make an argument for them. They have earned consideration with their scheduling and play. Given the greater strength and depth of several of the BCS leagues, it will be difficult for SDSU to end up as a 1, but it's not impossible. For now, consider them the TCU of the basketball world and enjoy the ride.
Records listed are Division I only, per NCAA Tournament selection guidelines. All RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) and SOS (Strength of Schedule) data are from Monday's collegerpi.com RPI report.
GW = good wins
BL = bad losses
(N) = neutral-site game
The Blue Devils suffered their first loss of the season at Florida State, the third time in the past decade Duke has lost there when ranked No. 1. The home win over Virginia wasn't terribly impressive, either. The result of this week is Duke is no longer a No. 1 seed.
SHOULD BE IN
Boston College (13-5, 3-1; RPI: 36, SOS: 22)
The Eagles couldn't back up their good home win over N.C. State, losing a close one at Miami for their first league defeat. The overall profile remains solid, but after wounded Virginia's visit, things get much tougher over the next seven games, starting with trips to Florida State and Duke.
GW: Texas A&M (N), Cal (N)?, at Maryland
BL: Yale, Harvard?
IN THE MIX
North Carolina (12-5, 2-1; RPI: 26, SOS: 21)
After barely slipping past Virginia and Virginia Tech, the Heels were blown out at league minnow Georgia Tech Sunday night. The schedule gets stiffer now (as much as it can in a down ACC) and only the Kentucky win is keeping UNC's profile from being very empty at this point.
Florida State (13-5, 3-1; RPI: 63, SOS: 84)
What's a good way to follow up a disastrous week? Beat Duke and N.C. State at home to inject some legitimacy into your profile. The next eight are relatively soft, so it's moving time for the 'Noles.
GW: Duke, Baylor (N)?
BL: at Auburn
Miami (12-5, 1-2; RPI: 32, SOS: 35)
The 'Canes held off BC for a crucial home win to kick off a defining stretch that includes five of seven at home in league play. The two road games are at UNC and Virginia Tech, which are (for this season's ACC) opportunities to impress and hurt a competitor for at-large status.
GW: West Virginia, Ole Miss
BL: at Rutgers
Virginia Tech (11-5, 2-2; RPI: 73, SOS: 72)
The Hokies deserved to win at Chapel Hill and then took out their frustrations on bottom-feeder Wake Forest. This is like Bizarro Season for Virginia Tech. The Hokies scheduled up in nonleague play and are impressing in the league, but a collection of factors may see them miss the NCAAs yet again.
GW: OK State (N)?
Maryland (11-6, 1-2; RPI: 91, SOS: 83)
The Terps were a controversial bracket inclusion last week, staying in under the "all of these profiles are very flawed, so I'm going with the team I think is best" corollary. In return, Maryland had another week where it looked impressive and did very little to help its resume after fading late at Villanova.
BL: None, really
Clemson (13-4, 2-1; RPI: 90, SOS: 179)
The Tigers beat Georgia Tech, which is mostly win-column filler this season, but winning the games you're supposed to win is how you'll stay afloat in the ACC standings. Now they head to UNC and Maryland in search of legitimacy.
GW: at College of Charleston?
BL: Michigan (at home)?, at South Carolina?
N.C. State (11-6, 1-2; RPI: 104, SOS: 142)
With two more losses this week, these coming with Tracy Smith available, the 'Pack is really a marginal candidate at this point. Can they shock Duke on Wednesday to jumpstart an NCAA push?
GW: George Mason (N)?
The Jayhawks were tested twice more but won both, and then went on national TV and ripped Baylor in Waco. Amazingly in a deep Big 12, the Jayhawks may only have one road game all season against a ranked team: the season-finale at Missouri, a team Kansas traditionally handles very well. Texas and Texas A&M both come to Lawrence. Were we looking at the wrong part of the country for an undefeated season?
SHOULD BE IN
Texas A&M (15-1, 3-0; RPI: 17, SOS: 73)
The Aggies won the best game I've seen this season on Saturday, 91-89 in OT over Missouri. Incredibly high-level stuff from both teams and a cap to a breakout week for the Aggies, who are starting to answer the lingering questions posed in last week's feature on them. Next up: at Texas and vs. K-State.
GW: Temple (N), Washington, Missouri
Texas (14-3, 2-0; RPI: 41, SOS: 61)
The 'Horns pounded two league minnows and now get to host Texas A&M before heading to Kansas on Saturday for a two-pack of mouthwatering matchups. Texas remains one of the most dangerous and underrated teams in the nation. The nation could find that out in the next five days.
GW: Illinois (N), North Carolina (N), at Michigan State
BL: at USC?
Missouri (16-3, 2-2; RPI: 30, SOS: 78)
The Tigers have been in practically every great game in the country this season, and came back to rout K-State after falling at A&M. They only have Iowa State at home this week and then get a week to prepare for a trip to Texas, so they should be ready to deliver another compelling game.
GW: Vanderbilt, Illinois (N), Old Dominion
BL: at Colorado?
IN THE MIX
Colorado (13-4, 3-0; RPI: 71, SOS: 170)
The Buffaloes have surged from the outside to take a fairly significant position in the Big 12 order in just two weeks. That's what happens when you open league play by beating Missouri, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Winners of six D-I games in a row, they now have winnable road games at Nebraska and Oklahoma before Kansas comes calling.
GW: Missouri, at Kansas State (sans Kelly)
BL: at San Francisco
Kansas State (12-6, 1-3; RPI: 51, SOS: 25)
Curtis Kelly is back, so there's no good way to excuse the beating K-State took at Missouri after a dominant win over Texas Tech. Things don't get any easier, either, with the next three at A&M, home to Baylor (a game that both teams really need) and at Texas. A preseason top-five team is working its way toward missing the NCAAs altogether.
GW: Gonzaga (N), at Washington State?
Baylor (12-5, 2-2; RPI: 100, SOS: 178)
Speaking of highly regarded teams that are in increasing danger of missing the NCAAs, the Bears got crushed in their last two outings. Home to Kansas isn't great, but is excusable. But at Iowa State? The Bears are entering the relatively soft part of the slate, so they need to stack some wins quickly. Then they need to beat someone(s) of substance in the final few weeks.
BL: at Iowa State (by 15)?
Oklahoma State (13-4, 1-2; RPI: 42, SOS: 80)
After a second-half beatdown in College Station, the Pokes went to Boulder and got beat by surging Colorado. Now the home date with Iowa State is virtually a must-win before the schedule toughens.
GW: None, really
Iowa State (14-4, 1-2; RPI: 85, SOS: 160)
Give Kansas a huge scare and then thump Baylor? Another impressive week for the Cyclones. We'll find out this week if they have any real designs on NCAA contention when they're at OK State and Mizzou.
BL: at Nebraska?
Nebraska (13-4, 1-2; RPI: 108, SOS: 216)
The Huskers battled Mizzou and KU very hard on the road, but came back with two losses. The games this week -- vs. Colorado and at Texas Tech -- are both must-gets, with A&M, at K-State and KU looming after.
GW: USC (N)?
BL: Davidson (N)?