No sooner had Missouri climbed on the victory podium did the chants ring out, from players and fans.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
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 Saturdays 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. Theyve 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 bulls-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 Mizzous 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.
Its not a Kansas vs. Missouri thing. Its 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 doesnt matter much to Tigers coach Frank Haith. Hes more interested in destination.
Im more concerned about being in Omaha and St. Louis, thats where Id like to be, whether thats a one seed or a two seed, Haith said.
Heres how it might break down: Syracuse to the East Region in Boston is the easiest call. North Carolinas 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 committees 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.
Heres 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 tournaments overall top seed, but it seems likely a Big 12 team could be placed there as a No. 2 and wouldnt 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 arent assigned St. Louis, Self wont fret.
I dont know if its an advantage or not to play in St. Louis, he said. Wed have to win two games to play there. If we win two games, I couldnt 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 wouldnt be in the same regional in Omaha.
But theyll probably let each other know theyre there with chants.
Go Big 12!
Blair Kerkhoffs 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|
|5||Wichita State||Temple||Creighton||San Diego St.|
|12||Davidson||So. Fla/Colo. St.||VCU||N.C. State|
|13||Ohio||Miss. State||Colorado/Marshall||Long Beach St.|
|6||Florida State||New Mexico||UNLV||St. Marys|
|14||South Dakota St.||(WAC)||Belmont||Montana|
• 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 email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.