COLLEGES

NCAA seeds: What’s in store today for MU, KU?

But the Tigers, and Jayhawks, likely will have to settle for No. 2.

Updated: 2012-03-12T05:10:42Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF

The Kansas City Star

No sooner had Missouri climbed on the victory podium did the chants ring out, from players and fans.

“One seed! One seed!”

This was after the “S-E-C” chants filled the Sprint Center.

The Tigers will know later this afternoon if their voices echoed all the way to Indianapolis, where the selection committee is sequestered.

But an impressive Big 12 tournament run capped by Saturday’s 90-75 conquest of Baylor may not be enough for the Tigers.

Look for Mizzou and Kansas to be No. 2 seeds when the field is announced on the program that begins at 5 p.m.

For the Jayhawks, that would be new territory for coach Bill Self. Odd as it seems, a Self-coached team has never been a No. 2 seed. They’ve danced as 1s, 3s and 4s at Kansas and Illinois, and his first NCAA Tournament team was at Tulsa as a No. 7 seed.

This may be the year Self draws the deuce, and given the coaches’ superstitious nature, that may not be a bad thing.

KU has been to the tournament as a No. 1 seed in four of the previous five years, but reached the Final Four only once, the 2008 national championship year.

The victory celebrations by 11th seeded VCU last March and ninth-seeded Northern Iowa in the previous year remain fresh enough that Self might want to change everything about the last two visits, including the big-dog bull’s-eye.

Top seeds are a percentage play. A No. 1 has never lost a tournament opener, and they conquer the madness at a 78-percent pace throughout the history of the seeding process. Twos win 70 percent of their games.

A top seed would be Mizzou’s second; the first was in 1994. But working against the Tigers is a combination of a second-place Big 12 finish, and the poorest schedule strength among the teams projected as first and second seeds.

It’s not a Kansas vs. Missouri thing. It’s a Kansas vs. Missouri vs. Ohio State vs. Michigan State vs. Duke vs. North Carolina thing.

The Tar Heels and Buckeyes, who have reached their conference tournament finals, are the leaders for the final No. 1 seeds after Kentucky and Syracuse. Kansas probably took itself off the No. 1 line with its semifinal tournament loss to Baylor. The Jayhawks join the Tigers, Michigan State and Duke as second seeds.

The seeding doesn’t matter much to Tigers coach Frank Haith. He’s more interested in destination.

“I’m more concerned about being in Omaha and St. Louis, that’s where I’d like to be, whether that’s a one seed or a two seed,” Haith said.

Here’s how it might break down: Syracuse to the East Region in Boston is the easiest call. North Carolina’s surge gives the Heels a spot in Atlanta, which puts Kentucky in St. Louis and the Big Ten champion in Phoenix.

Where the Jayhawks and Tigers land will say something about the selection committee’s priorities.

KU won an 18-game regular season by two games. Missouri closed the margin by winning the tournament.

Kansas has better computer credentials based mostly on schedule strength, but the difference between the teams in their regular-season meetings was this (hold thumb and index finger together) small.

Here’s a quick bracket lesson: The committee ranks the teams and places them on the seed lines in an S-curve, meaning the overall top-seeded team theoretically draws the lowest-ranked second-seeded team. The fourth No. 1 gets the best No. 2.

But the committee leaves wiggle room for a variety of reasons, one of which is proximity to a regional site, and that may be in play here with St. Louis as the site of the Midwest Sweet 16.

Kentucky will be the tournament’s overall top seed, but it seems likely a Big 12 team could be placed there as a No. 2 and wouldn’t necessarily be considered the worst of second seeds.

Put the Tigers there, the loser of the Big Ten title game in Atlanta and Duke in Boston. If the Jayhawks aren’t assigned St. Louis, Self won’t fret.

“I don’t know if it’s an advantage or not to play in St. Louis,” he said. “We’d have to win two games to play there. If we win two games, I couldn’t care less where we play.”

Those two games probably will be in Omaha, Neb. KU and Missouri should expect to start their NCAA journeys there. They missed each other in Kansas City, and wouldn’t be in the same regional in Omaha.

But they’ll probably let each other know they’re there with chants.

“S-E-C!”

“Go Big 12!”

Blair Kerkhoff’s NCAA Tournament projection

Seed

MIDWEST (St. Louis)

EAST (Boston)

SOUTH (Atlanta)

WEST (Phoenix)

1

Kentucky

Syracuse

North Carolina

Ohio State

16

Lamar/SWAC

Vermont

Norfolk St./W. Ky.

UNC-Asheville

8

Iowa State

Gonzaga

Kansas State

Notre Dame

9

Purdue

Virginia

Southern Miss.

Alabama

5

Wichita State

Temple

Creighton

San Diego St.

12

Davidson

So. Fla/Colo. St.

VCU

N.C. State

4

Louisville

Murray St.

Georgetown

Indiana

13

Ohio

Miss. State

Colorado/Marshall

Long Beach St.

6

Florida State

New Mexico

UNLV

St. Mary’s

11

BYU

West Virginia

Xavier

California

3

Michigan

Wisconsin

Baylor

Marquette

14

South Dakota St.

(WAC)

Belmont

Montana

7

Cincinnati

Memphis

Vanderbilt

Florida

10

Saint Louis

Texas

Connecticut

Harvard

2

Missouri

Duke

Michigan State

Kansas

15

Detroit

LIU

Lehigh

Loyola, Md.

Last four in: Marshall, South Florida, Colorado State, California

First four out: Seton Hall, Mississippi, Northwestern, Iona

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.

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