ACC Basketball

Bubbles, Brackets and a Pair of One Seeds…Oh My

ETHAN HYMAN — News Observer

After reading about the media mock selection committee, I want to try something different today. Instead of just predicting the seeds, let’s see if we can get some of these teams into some regions.

MIDWEST

Kentucky, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Oklahoma

John Calipari has two teams worth of NBA players and zero loses. The Wildcats are the clear favorites to win it all, but let’s face one fact, despite having a 4-0 record against teams currently ranked in the top-30 in the RPI, they haven’t faced one of those teams since the year 2014. Wisconsin has a shot at a 1-seed and then would go out west, which means Arizona would be the two seed here in the midwest. However, as much as the Badgers pass the eye test, they have just one win all season over a ranked team (Iowa).

Despite having just four loses, none outside the top-50 and five top-50 wins, the Irish get no RPI love, falling all the way down to 26th. However, with Chris Jones not playing for Louisville, it’s hard to see Notre Dame losing again in the regular season. The Sooners have eight loses and still have Iowa State and Kansas left on the schedule, but they are tied with Kansas for most top-50 games played, going an impressive 10-4, with all four loses coming to teams ranked in the RPI’s top-25. Their reward…potentially Kentucky in the Sweet 16.

EAST

Virginia, Villanova, Northern Iowa, Maryland

Let me drop a scenario on you. Let’s say Virginia wins their next three, but suffer one loss to either Syracuse or Louisville on the road in the season’s last week. Then the Cavaliers lose to Duke in the ACC Tournament. I have to believe they would lose their hold on the 1-seed and fall to a 2-seed in the South with Wisconsin as the top dog (despite winning the regular season). Anyhow, for now Virginia deserves the East. Villanova has five wins over the RPI’s top-25 and have just one bad loss to (#67) Seton Hall. There is no way way these Wildcats get moved out of this region.

Northern Iowa is tough to place both in seeding and region. We know they are good, but the resume is simply not there. They have just seven wins against the top-100 and just one win against the RPI’s top-50. They’ll most likely face the Shockers two more times. If they split, they keep the 3-seed. If they lose twice, they could fall to the 5-seed. Maryland is 5-4 against the top-50 and they get their one regular season game against Wisconsin at home this weekend.

SOUTH

Duke, Kanas, Utah, Wichita State

There’s only one team that can brag about having wins over two potential one seeds (Virginia, Wisconsin), both on the road…Duke. The Jayhawks have dropped two of their last four and will probably fall again in the season’s final game at Oklahoma, but one can’t overlook the team with the #1 ranking in the RPI.

Four of Utah’s six final regular season games are on the road with a home game against Arizona sandwiched in between. If they can get through those road games and take down the Wildcats, then the Utes can move into the two seed out west and Arizona heads down South.

Right now, the Shockers are hard to figure out. Their SOS is brutal (124th), but they still have that home game against Northern Iowa. My prediction, Wichita State wins that one, while the Panthers win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

WEST

Gonzaga, Arizona, Iowa State, North Carolina

The top seed out west comes down to Wisconsin, Gonzaga and Arizona. One would think that the Bulldogs would struggle stacked up against the top teams from major conferences. However, while Gonzaga has just five games against top-50 teams (going 4-1), Wisconsin has just six games and five wins against the top-50, while Arizona has just three games against the top-50 (3-0). Forget the conferences and the Zags’ resume is good enough. Anyhow, the Wildcats should be cheering for the Bulldogs. If Wisconsin steals the top-seed out west, then Arizona joins Kentucky in the Midwest.

Iowa State has an outside shot at a second seed, but it’s far outside. They have a solid 7-4 record against the top-50 and have both (#13) Baylor and (#15) Oklahoma coming up on the schedule. Most importantly, both at home. North Carolina has dropped four of five, but they have a solid SOS, with 12 games against the top-50. They have seven loses against those teams, with three of those loses coming to three of the top four teams in the current polls.

TEAMS THAT ARE IN:

Louisville (6 seed)
With Chris Jones suspended, the Cardinals are in trouble. I had them as the last three-seed just last week, but they’ve dropped three of four and they still have both Notre Dame and Virginia remaining on the schedule. Luckily for them, both are at the end of the season and both are at home, so maybe Jones comes back by then.

NC State (12 seed)
According to the RPI, the Wolfpack have the second toughest SOS, going 4-7 against the top-50. Two of those wins are of the impressive nature (Duke, Louisville). This overrides the fun fact that NC State has not won back-to-back games since early December. However, they are no lock. They should beat Virginia Tech this weekend and Boston College the following weekend, but they still have three tough games on the schedule (at North Carolina, at Clemson and Syracuse at home).

TEAMS ON THE BUBBLE:

Miami FL
The Hurricanes have won three of four, although the last two were against the two worst teams in the ACC. They have that one great win at Duke, plus a couple of good home wins vs. Illinois and NC State, but that 63rd ranking in the RPI is a killer. The good news is, they still have time for some signature wins with Louisville, North Carolina and Pittsburgh left on the schedule.

Pittsburgh Panthers
The Panthers are just 2-7 against the top-50, but at least their two wins are solid wins over Notre Dame and North Carolina, plus they have no bad loses. The biggest problem Pittsburgh faces is the fact that they don’t have any good win opportunities left on their schedule. However, they do have a trio of trip-up games left at Syracuse, at Wake Forest and Miami at home.

JUST ABOUT DONE… 

Clemson
With an RPI hovering around the mid-eighties, the Tigers can’t afford loses, yet they have dropped three of four. Of course a 4-0 finish to the season would include victories at Duke and at Notre Dame. Now that’s not going to happen, but if that did somehow occur, then a 11-7 record with a pair of signature late-season wins changes everything.

Florida State
The Seminoles have won four of six and five of eight and nearly beat Duke, but nearly beating Duke isn’t the same as having a win over Duke on the resume. With an RPI sitting at #114, I don’t even think a 4-0 finish and a good run in the ACC Tournament will be good enough to get FSU in the Big Dance.

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