Examining Kansas' case for a No. 1 seed

03/14/2014 11:49 AM

03/14/2014 11:59 AM

By late Friday night, this little exercise may be worthless. No. 10 Kansas plays No. 16 Iowa State tonight in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament, and a KU loss would change the discussion in a matter of hours.

But for now, five days after Kansas announced that freshman center Joel Embiid would likely miss the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, the Jayhawks are suddenly back in position to snag the final No. 1 seed. Even after eight losses — including a road loss at West Virginia last Saturday. Even after losing a future lottery pick indefinitely.

Villanova’s loss to Seton Hall on Thursday opened the door wider for teams such as Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Duke — and maybe even Syracuse — to slot into the final No. 1 seed. (Florida, Arizona and Wichita State are, for all intents and purposes, locks to be No. 1s.)

So before Kansas faces Iowa State, let’s

inspect each potential No. 1’s resume

to this point. One caveat: We’re mixing and matching metrics here. The KenPom rankings reflect the formula used at Ken Pomeroy’s website, but the top 50 wins are based on the RPI metric used by the NCAA selection committee.

Here we go.

Kansas, 24-8, Big 12 regular-season champs

KenPom ranking: No. 6

Record vs. Top 50 opponents: 13-7

Record vs. 50-100: 5-1

Strength of schedule: 1

Michigan, 23-7, Big Ten regular-season champs

KenPom ranking: No. 10

Record vs. Top 50 opponents: 9-4

Record vs. 50-100: 4-2

Strength of schedule: 9

Villanova, 28-4, Big East regular-season champs

KenPom ranking: No. 8

Record vs. Top 50 opponents: 4-3

Record vs. 50-100: 12-0

Strength of schedule: 45

Wisconsin, 25-6, second place in Big Ten

KenPom ranking: No. 12

Record vs. Top 50 opponents: 6-4

Record vs. 50-100: 10-1

Strength of schedule: 4

Duke, 24-7, third place in the ACC

KenPom ranking: No. 7

Record vs. Top 50 opponents: 6-4

Record vs. 50-100: 4-1

Strength of schedule: 6

Syracuse, 27-4, second place in the ACC

KenPom ranking: No. 11

Record vs. Top 50 opponents: 7-2

Record vs. 50-100: 8-0

Strength of schedule: 72

Virginia, 25-6, ACC regular-season champs

KenPom ranking: No. 5

Record vs. Top 50 opponents: 3-2

Record vs. 50-100: 7-2

Strength of schedule: 43

The Bottom Line

Kansas has played 20 top-50 opponents, nearly as many as Duke, Syracuse and Virginia combined (24). If the Jayhawks win the Big 12 Tournament, they’ll have two more top-50 victories, and will have dispatched any concern over losing Joel Embiid for the next two weekends.

Keep an eye on the Big Ten and ACC tournaments; Michigan, for example, could make a strong case for a No. 1 with a Big Ten tournament title. But here’s the simple takeaway: A loss against Iowa State probably keeps Kansas on the two-line, but two more wins in Kansas City could mean the Jayhawks’ sixth No. 1 seed in eight years.

 

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