BLAIR KERKHOFF

Selection Sunday could be especially intriguing for KC

Updated: 2013-07-18T21:11:59Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF

The Kansas City Star

Not that college basketball fans around Kansas City need additional reasons to zone in on Selection Sunday, but the announcement will bring story lines in abundance.

The three area schools —Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri — will be in. Same for nearby Creighton and Wichita State.

One or some will be assigned to Kansas City for the second and third round.

Oh, and there’s a matter of possibly matching sworn enemies, the Jayhawks and Tigers, who ended their century-plus competitive relationship this year, in a possible third-round game.

Could the Power & Light handle it?

Today’s guess on seeds has Kansas as a No. 2, K-State a No. 4 and Mizzou on a line anywhere from seventh to 11th. Creighton could have played its way into a sixth or seventh seed. The Shockers have the profile of a ninth or 10th seed.

Plan on the Jayhawks in Sprint Center. The Wildcats’ odds would improve if they won this week’s Big 12 tournament.

Mizzou?

A principle of the selection committee is to keep teams as close to home as possible. That’s easier to accomplish with better seeded teams, but an effort is maintained as the field falls into place.

So, yes, it’s possible. But for a Border War to happen in Kansas City, the seeds and region would have to align. If KU was a No. 2, the Tigers would have to be a No. 7 or No. 10 in the same region. If the Jayhawks rose to a No. 1, the Tigers would have to play in the 8-9 game.

And, of course, both would have to win their first games.

There could be another hitch. If the Tigers were a seventh seed, and Kansas City was the closest site for another seventh-seeded team, like Creighton, the Bluejays could get the nod.

Something to keep in mind is the selection committee doesn’t care about local drama. Its charge is to select the most deserving teams and seed them in a balanced way. The NCAA Tournament generates enough excitement without creating any.

As for the Wildcats in Kansas City, if the Wildcats wind up a third or fourth seed, they have to hope others rated ahead of them don’t have Sprint Center as their closest available destination, a Big Ten team perhaps.

A team like Michigan, which had its own bracket impact moment on Sunday. Literally, a moment.

Wolverines guard Trey Burke missed at the basket in the final seconds against Indiana, but Jordan Morgan’s follow got the front rim and bounced a couple of times to the side of the cylinder. College basketball’s final regular-season game between top-10 teams was determined on the next turn of the ball.

Had it dropped in, Michigan would have sent Indiana to a second straight loss and put more pressure on the Hoosiers to advance in this week’s Big Ten tournament to hold on to a No. 1 seed.

Somehow the ball rolled off the rim, and Indiana remains a strong favorite to land on the top line along with Duke, Gonzaga and Louisville. The surging Blue Devils could be the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed.

But as much time as we’ll spend thinking about top seeds, the committee faces much more difficult challenges. The bubble is the usual cluster. So many teams look alike.

Take this blind test and identify the better credentials:

Team A is 21-10, 2-4 against the RPI top 50 and is 4-7 in true road games.

Team B is 21-10, 4-2 against the top 50, is 3-8 in true road games, and plays in a conference that’s higher rated.

Kentucky, which gamely defeated Florida on Saturday, got off the bubble and back on the bracket, goes the popular belief. Virginia’s chances seem shaky.

The Wildcats are Team A, and the Cavaliers are Team B.

That type of comparison — and there will be many like it — absorbs more time than any other decision, and it should. Who dances and who doesn’t is the essence of the thing.

Not so much who might be lined up against each other in the second round in Kansas City. That’s for us to obsess over. And we will, all week.

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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