In most cases, following Selection Sunday, each of the NCAA Tournament's four No. 1 seeds acquire distinctly different labels. Boasting experience and talent, one normally takes on the role of clear-cut favorite. It becomes their tournament to lose. A second seems to have more pros than any other team in the tournament. A third is normally a surprise BCS-conference winner, and there's almost always a fourth that receives the unenviable title of "one-seed that’s most likely to lose first." For that, we reference the 2005 Washington Huskies and 1999 Auburn Tigers, among others.
While some gripe about a watered down product, we're undoubtedly about to get treated to an excellent story line that's growing in importance: Which of the top six teams in the country will be king of each of the bracket's four regions? With only a week left in February, not a single program is a sure thing.
As of today, here is the case for and against a handful of No. 1 seed contenders:
The Case For: Because I said so at the beginning of the season, dammit! But seriously, the Panthers are 9-2 away from the Petersen Events Center, including wins over Texas, Georgetown and Villanova. If they have a bad loss it was against Tennessee back in early December. But over time, it's slowly been diluted and labeled an aberration among pundits.
The Case Against: Tennessee isn't ranked, and St. John's is a fringe top 25 team. They've also never actually been to the Final Four during this decade of regular season excellence. That really has no bearing here, I know I'm reaching, but can you really trust these guys to win their bracket based on history?
The Case For: If they win out (@ Oklahoma, vs. A&M, @ Missouri) the Jayhawks are a one-seed. They would finish the regular season 29-2, and records like that just don't get pumped below the first line.
The Case Against: But if they slip up against any of those three teams, and falter in the Big 12 Conference Tournament, they'll have three, maybe four losses, and really no quality wins aside from Arizona; wayyyy back during Thanksgiving Weekend. Ignore the emblazoned name on the jersey, and what is so uber-impressive about this team's body of work?
The Case For: You may cringe, but the Blue Devils only have one conference loss, and no "bad" losses. Since being embarrassed against the Johnnies a few weeks back, Duke has responded nicely with wins over six ACC foes.
The Case Against: They're best win is against North Carolina, and their second best is against Kansas State. Depending on how everything shakes out, it's possible that Duke will end the regular season with wins against only three tournament teams. That's not a lot, and coupled with a SOS of 45, it should be a slight cause for concern.
San Diego State
The Case For: We should all be supportive of the Aztecs receiving a No. 1 seed. Seeing an underdog become a favorite is a blast, and Steve Fischer's club has more than earned the right to be king of the castle following a regular season that has seen them exceed expectations and be much more than just a trendy team to discuss. Had they not gotten "Jimmered," we would be comparing these guys to the 2004 Saint Joseph's Hawks.
The Case Against: It's pretty obvious. This MWC team is the best non-BCS conference team in the nation, but the Aztecs lone victory against a likely at-large berth tournament team was over Saint Mary's. The body of work just doesn't stack up.
The Case For: The nation's last team to lose, Ohio State has lost twice, on the road, to teams undefeated at home. Hard to be critical of that. Given their dominance to date, you can't not give these guys a one-seed, or expect this savvy bunch of veterans and a freshman stud to keep it together for a few more weeks.
The Case Against: Right now, I personally can't make one. But they still have to travel to Happy Valley to play the sneaky Penn State Nittany Lions, and absolve themselves from that loss against the Badgers. Maybe in two weeks, this team's resume doesn't look as hot.
The Case For: The nation's last team to lose a conference game, the Longhorns might be the best team in the country, according to nearsighted selection committee members. Closing out the regular season against middling Colorado, Kansas State and Baylor, this team controls their own destiny for a cupcake city #16 seed to open the tournament. They also ended Kansas 69-game home winning streak and Impressive.
The Case Against: They've already lost four games, so any additional losses would likely make them look inferior on paper to the five aforementioned teams. Being burned by USC looks gross, and their SOS could reach 40+ by season's end.
If I were a betting man, I would have to omit San Diego State and Duke. Purdue is somewhat on the peripheral here, but it may be too little too late for this club. A dangerous #2 seed nonetheless, and the way this season is playing out, seeding may end up serving as more of a guise than proof of a superior team.
Now to the week that was (filled with positives) ...
- John Feinstein / Mark Berman - I rarely poke around the submissions of each of the 64 media members privy enough to dictate the mood swings of teams across the country each week, but after seeing BYU receive two first place votes in the AP poll, I had to investigate. National Public Radio's John Feinstein and The Roanoke Times' Mark Berman weighed the tumultuous week at the top more than the other voters, placing the Cougars No. 1, and San Diego State Aztecs No. 2. This means that Saturday's re-match of MVC foes from a month ago will be a bout of college basketball's best.
- Charles Jenkins - Behind The Jimmer, the second biggest cult hero in college basketball right now is undoubtedly Hofstra's Charles Jenkins. The do-everything-do-it-a-lot Pride guard who is the program's all-time leading scorer will have his number retired on Saturday and, yes, will take the floor as Hofstra's starting point guard following the ceremony. Five years from now, expect a bronzed status of Jenkins to welcome prospective students at the gates of this Hempstead campus.
- Idong Ibok- The snow keeps piling up in and around the Great Lakes, and with that, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo was able to play Good Samaritan over the weekend. En route to the Breslin Center, with former Spartan Center Idong Ibok riding shotgun, the duo stopped to help get an East Lansing lady out of her driveway, after getting stuck trying to back out into the street. Can you imagine the 6'11" Ibok directing and diverting traffic set against heaps of fresh powder? I cannot, but I bet it was awesome.
Utah State’s Brady Jardine - Curt Schilling once said that pitching a gem against the Yankees in the Bronx might be the most rewarding way to silence a crowd of 50,000+ people. On Saturday night, we saw a scaled down example of how to get a rawkus sporting arena to shut up. In this case, it was Utah State's Brady Jardine bringing heat over an unfortunate Saint Mary's Gaels defender, en route to victory in the only Bracketbusters game that was truly worth watching.
Kenneth Faried - Likely en route to being the third most famous Eagle alum behind NFL quarterback Phil Simms and game show host Chuck Woolery, of course, Faried became the NCAA's all-time leading rebounder over the weekend. Ousting the venerable Tim Duncan, Faried is a likely first round pick and is sure to serve as a crucial role player for an NBA playoff-quality team. Hats off to this guy.
- Jay Bilas tweeting up a storm -He's owned a twitter handle for sometime now, but the wisest man in college baketball has re-committed himself to the microblogging networking, and he's tweeting like crazy. Tweeting during the day, late at night, early in the morning, about Bill Raftery's eating habits, the bubble, and anything that piques his interest. Bilas, unquestionably, is a must follow.
C.J Leslie - Using a double entendre as a title, NC State freshman was revealed to be a terrible poet, snitched out by one of his fellow Wolfpack classmates. Here's a little diddy he recently submitted as an assignment for a freshman English class.
- Tom Crean - There's nothing wrong with being ticked off at your 12-15 club, but there might be something wrong calling out your 12-15 team to the local media. That's what Tom Crean did following an uninspired loss to Northwestern, saying, "If the rules weren't set up right now for it to be so soft for players where you could come back and practice that night or back at midnight the next day, that's what we would be doing.'' Those stellar recruits Crean has locked up can't come soon enough.
La Salle - The Explorers were absloutely pummeled at Xavier on Tuesday, losing 100-62. And it wasn't even that close. Some of the lopsided deficits seen in this game include, 41-8, 71-27, and 91-50.
This Weekend's Games
- Georgia @ Florida (ESPN) 7pm
- Marquette @ Connecticut (ESPN2) 7pm
- West Virginia @ Pittsburgh (ESPN) 9pm
- Morehead St. @ Murray St. (ESPNU) 9pm
- Gonzaga @ Saint Mary's (ESPN2) 11pm
Nothing of significant importance
- Syracuse @ Georgetown (CBS) noon
- Missouri @ Kansas St. (ESPN) noon
- BYU @ San Diego State (CBS) 2pm
- St. John's @ Villanova (ESPN) 2pm
- Florida @ Kentucky (CBS) 4pm
- Kansas @ Oklahoma (ESPN) 4pm
- Arizona @ UCLA (ESPN) 4pm
- Duke @ Virginia Tech (ESPN) 9pm
- Purdue @ Michigan St. (ESPN) 1pm
- Xavier @ Dayton (ESPN2) 1pm
- Pittsburgh @ Louisville (CBS) 2pm
- Indiana @ Ohio St. (CBS) 4pm
- Maryland @ North Carolina (FSN) 7:45pm
- Washington St. @ Washington (FSN) 10pm