Will Hollis Price and Oklahoma play their way into a No. 1 seed?
Only hours remain until the official NCAA tournament bracket is unveiled. Below is our last educated guess, but first a quick explanation about the two parts you're probably most concerned about: the top and the bottom.
Despite the rash of conference tournament upsets, our four No. 1 seeds, Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas and Texas, haven't changed since last week. The reason: Most of the next logical contenders -- Syracuse, Marquette, Wake Forest -- also lost this weekend.
The one exception, of course, is Oklahoma, which has advanced further in the Big 12 tournament than either the Jayhawks or Longhorns. But in assessing teams from the same conference, the selection committee has generally put more credence in the regular season than the tourney. Kansas won the championship, and Texas beat OU both times they played.
The same rule applies in establishing a pecking order among the SEC's numerous bubble teams. While Alabama and Auburn are ranked higher than Tennessee in the RPI, the Vols finished with the better conference record while playing in the tougher East division, where it had to face Kentucky, Florida and Georgia twice. Tennessee is the only one of the three that makes our cut.
Admittedly, we're making a big assumption that the committee will reward three mid-majors -- Gonzaga, Butler and Southern Illinois -- that won their conference but lost in their tournament's title game. Part of the reason is there simply aren't a lot of middle-of-the-pack major-conference teams that have respectable cases. Texas Tech, for instance, though it reached the Big 12 semifinals, went 6-10 in the regular season.
Two teams on the opposite end of the spectrum are the Big East's Seton Hall and Boston College, which both went 10-6 in the league.
The Pirates, a miserable 3-12 against top 100 teams, may have been bumped by the conference tourney runs of teams like N.C. State and Indiana, which now seem to be solid tourneys entrants. The Eagles, on the other hand, have benefited -- their road wins against both the Wolfpack and Connecticut now carry more weight.
Breaking down the bubble (teams in RED are in)
In good shape
N.C. State (18-12)
Arizona State (18-11)
Boston College (18-11)
Southern Illinois (24-6)
Seton Hall (17-12)
Texas Tech (18-12)
Ohio State (17-14)
St. John's (16-13)
St. Louis (16-13)
North Carolina (17-15)