Key losses this week by 3 leading candidates for a number 1 seed have opened the door for other teams to slide into that coveted top line of the regional bracket. Upset losses by Kansas, Memphis, and now Tennessee have created a scenario where teams like Texas could grab a number 1 virtually guaranteeing an automatic first round win and a favorable matchup in the second round vs. an opponent likely carrying a mid 30's RPI. But if you're Texas, would you trade an easy path to the sweet sixteen for a bit more difficult path as a two seed if it meant playing close to home in the regionals? Let's take a look at how things may shake out.
Texas. 23-4. Ranked 5 in both polls. RPI 4. SOS 3.
Remaining games: @TX Tech, Nebraska, Oklahoma State
Texas should be favored in every remaining game with the exception of the conference tournament championship vs. Kansas. A sweep of the remaining games up to the conference tourney makes them a virtual lock for a one seed most likely in the West. Losses by other 1 seed candidates could change things. For instance, Memphis dropping another game coupled with UCLA finishing strong, could mean the committee would seed Texas 1 in the South and keep UCLA as the 1 seed in the west. This is obviously the dream scenario for Texas fans because it would mean Texas gets the easy road to the regional which will be played in Houston. Not likely.
Projection: Win out until the conference championship = 1 seed in the West. Lose along the way, and Texas will be a 2 seed in the South.
Memphis. 26-1. RPI 2. SOS 15.
Remaining games: Tulsa, @Southern Miss, @ SMU, UAB
Another loss and Memphis should drop like a stone. They have decent wins against Georgetown, UCONN, and USC but their remaining schedule is so bad that any loss from here on out would be punitive and certainly knock them down to a 2. Hell, even a loss in the conference tourney may make the committee rethink things. Toughest game will be UAB who has the athletes to get up and down with Memphis. Not likely however.
Projection: 1 seed in the South barring something miraculous.
Tennessee. 24-3. RPI 1*. SOS 2.
Remaining games: Kentucky, @Florida, South Carolina, Conference tourney.
RPI will certainly take a hit by the tough loss last night. They do own a win over Memphis which will serve as a backstop for them falling very far in the polls. An ugly blowout loss vs. Texas looms large especially if the committee is left with any picking and choosing between Texas and the Vols. At Florida will be a tough game considering it's a revenge spot for the Gators and Donovan knows Pearl's offense very well.
Any loss before the conference tourney allows an opening for Duke or North Carolina to slide into the 1 line in the East if either one can hold serve. Losses by all of Tennessee, Duke, and UNC make this a jumbled mess and could mean the committee moves Memphis to the East, Texas to the South, and Kansas to the Midwest.
Projection: Smart money is on Tennesse winning out and holding on to a 1 in the East.
North Carolina. 26-2. RPI 3. SOS 4.
Remaining Games: at BC, Florida State, at Duke
Currently UNC has a leg up on Duke in conference even after dropping one on their home floor to the Blue Devils. Even without star PG Ty Lawson, they should sleep walk to wins vs. BC and FSU. If he's not healthy by March 8, however, I fully expect Duke to stomp the Heels and perhaps even drop them out of their projected 1 seed in the Midwest or East. Two Carolina losses the rest of the way guarantees Kansas sliding into the one spot if they can hold serve up to the conference championship.
Projection: UNC drops the Duke game, and is a two in the East.
Kansas. 23-3. RPI 9. SOS 63
Remaining Games: At Iowa State, KSU, TX Tech, at TAMU
I fully expect Kansas to run the table including a big revenge game vs. KSU. A week ago, TAMU looked like a tough game but I think the Aggies' ship may have sailed by the time the Jayhawks get to town. Kansas is rooting hard for another Tennessee slip up and/or North Carolina faltering down the stretch. If either happens, look for the Jayhawks to be a 1 seed in either the Midwest or the East.
Projection: 1 seed in the Midwest because Lawson's injury finally catches up to UNC.
UCLA. 24-3. RPI 10. SOS 39.
Remaining games: at Asu, at Arizona, Stanford, Cal
Brutal stretch run against 3 teams ASU, Arizona, and Cal whose tourney life may be saved if they can beat the Bruins. Throw in top 10 Stanford and you've got a remaining schedule that the Bruins will be lucky to get through unscathed. The Bruins will probably drop 1 of the 4 remaining games. If they drop 2, they open things up for other teams vying for a two seed.
Projection: Bruins lose 1 game and remain a 2 seed in the west.
Remaining games: Georgia Tech, at NC State, at Virginia, UNC
First 3 games on the remaining schedule seem to be cake walks. The UNC matchup will decide where both of these teams end up. Without Ty Lawson, I don't see how the Tar Heels can control tempo enough to beat the Dukies in Cameron. Win out if you're the Devils and hope for Tennessee and Kansas/Texas losses, making a 1 seed possible.
Projection: Duke wins out but remains a 2 in the Midwest, because Kansas and Tenny hold serve.
What's your projection?