With Selection Sunday just a week from today, it is only appropriate that I write my first non-Lakers blog in well over a month about the NCAA. This year, like most others, there has been a lot of parody in college basketball. Unlike other seasons though, I don’t know if there has been so much change at the top spot in recent seasons. The rankings have changed considerably since the first week, and especially around the top four teams. There could potentially be some changes, as the major conference tournaments have not taken place, but right now, I believe that these four teams will own the four number-one seeds come tournament time.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-2) – There really isn’t any way that Gonzaga could not be a one seed. They are currently ranked number one in the nation, and already in their conference tournament. In fact, they defeated Loyola Marymount last night to advance to the championship game of the West Coast Conference. They play one more game tomorrow night against rival Saint Mary’s College, who has always been the one team in the conference to challenge the Bulldogs. But, with a 16-0 record in the conference this season, can you really see them losing?
Duke Blue Devils (27-4) – At the beginning of the season, Duke was expected to be a solid team, but their number-eight ranking in the preseason poll showed that they were not expected to be a great team. Fast-forward to 18 weeks later; Duke is the number three team in the country. Bad losses against conference foes Maryland and Virginia looked like they would ruin Duke’s chances of becoming a one seed, but the Blue Devils finally have senior forward Ryan Kelly back in the lineup. He has been back for three games, and in those games, Duke is 3-0, including big wins against, at the time, number five Miami and rival North Carolina at North Carolina. There still is time for Duke to lose this ranking, as they still have the entire Atlantic Coast Conference tournament to play through, but, right now, they look like they can hold on to a one seed.
Georgetown Hoyas (24-5) – Although Gonzaga comes from what it considered to be a non-power conference, Georgetown is the biggest surprise out of the four number-one seeds. The Hoyas were not even ranked in the top-25 in the preseason. Despite not getting the respect from the voters, they have defied all odds and, when this week’s rankings come out, will be ranked either number three or number four in the nation. When you look at team statistics, you would think that Georgetown was nowhere near the top-25. They rank 238th in the country in points per game and 250th in the country in rebounds per game. The one thing that may hold Georgetown out of the top four in the country this week could be a bad loss at Villanova, but they beat rival Syracuse yesterday in dominating fashion. One thing that they do have going for them is that they are hot – in their last 15 games, they are 13-2, including five wins over ranked teams. Their quest for a one seed will be one of the two toughest though, as they will have to shine at Madison Square Garden against a tough Big East, which includes four teams currently ranked in the top-25, including a tough Louisville squad that could also get their own one seed in the tournament.
Michigan Wolverines (25-5) – This last number one seed was the hardest one for me to decide, and for me, it comes down to who the best team in the Big 10 is. This is incredibly tough. As of right now, Michigan is the second-highest ranking team in the conference behind Indiana, who was the preseason number-one. What takes Indiana out of this equation for me is the fact that they have lost two out of their last three games, including a huge loss at home against Ohio State, who looked like the better and more-experienced team. Michigan, on the other hand, won a very big game this past week against in-state rival Michigan State , although it took some last-second heroics from guard Trey Burke. It is very fitting that today is the last game of the season for both Indiana and Michigan, and they are squaring off against each other in Ann Arbor. If Indiana were to win convincingly on the road, I may change my mind about who should on the one seed, but I feel that Michigan is the tougher of these two teams. Of course, there is still the tough Big 10 tournament to come, but there is a very good chance that neither of these teams win the tournament. Once again, this is a very close call, but I am going to say that Michigan has the upper-hand both in today’s game and in the conference tournament.
You would think that there would be a couple of locks for the one seeds with only a week left to go until Selection Sunday, but there really is only one, being Gonzaga. Even then, they still have to beat their biggest rival in a conference championship. The other three teams still have a lot of work left to do if they want to lock up a one seed. Teams like Indiana and Louisville are incredible teams that have a good chance of both capturing a one seed and winning the national championship this year, so these teams better hope that they can hold on for one more week. Gotta love March Madness!