Eli Boettger | @boettger_eli | 02/23/2020
After a hectic Saturday that featured a number of contenders dropping notable matchups, there is plenty of conversation brewing about March’s No. 1 seed line.
With the regular season winding down, we have a better picture of the teams that are still in contention for the top seed line.
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With a statement victory over Baylor on Saturday, Kansas has all but locked up a No. 1 seed in the 2020 NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks have a stellar resume: No. 1 in NET, No. 1 in strength of schedule, 11 Quad-I victories, and zero losses outside of Quad-I.
More importantly, Kansas’ team sheet now appears largely superior to Baylor’s, which means the Jayhawks are in the driver’s seat to pick up the No. 1 overall seed and head to the Midwest regional in Indianapolis.
Baylor, like Kansas, has a firm grip on a No. 1 seed. The Bears already have a road win over Kansas from January, in addition to nine other Quad-I wins. Washington’s nosedive means Baylor has a Quad-I loss on its schedule, but that won’t mean much in the long run.
Regardless of whether Baylor or Kansas is the overall No. 1, the Bears will almost certainly grab the South’s top seed and have their second weekend games in Houston.
Even though Gonzaga dropped Saturday’s WCC heavyweight duel against BYU, not much has changed for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga is No. 3 in NET, owns quality victories over Arizona, BYU and Oregon, doesn’t have any bad losses, and is well-received by the metrics.
If all goes to plan — meaning Gonzaga doesn’t drop any unexpected games between now and Selection Sunday — the Bulldogs should get the No. 3 overall seed and be on the top line in the West region in Los Angeles.
San Diego State
SDSU’s undefeated season came to an end with a surprising home loss to UNLV on Saturday. It’s an untimely Quad-3 defeat for the Aztecs, which still has vindicating away-from-home wins over Creighton, BYU and Iowa and a sweep of Utah State.
Even despite Saturday’s loss, much like Gonzaga, San Diego State still has the upper hand on a No. 1 seed. Worth keeping an eye on: The Mountain West tournament is a week earlier this year, which means San Diego State’s team sheet will be completed at least eight days before Selection Sunday while its power-conference competitors will have several quality win chances leading up to the bracket reveal. Could recency bias play a role?
The Blue Devils could have gathered another Quad-I win against North Carolina State, but was instead dealt one of the biggest blowouts in program history. An additional loss probably puts Duke out of the No. 1 seed conversation.
Winning out could likely equate to as many as four more Quad-I wins, which is as many as San Diego State has recorded all season. I wouldn’t rule out Duke grabbing the East’s No. 1 quite yet if it can get heat up down the stretch.
Maryland has been quietly good throughout the year, starting the season with a stellar 22-4 record and a handful of quality wins to its name, including a road victory over Michigan State and double-digit wins against Ohio State, Marquette and Iowa.
The Terrapins were the committee’s ninth overall seed in Feb. 8’s midseason bracket reveal, and still have five remaining regular season Quad-I opportunities in addition to next month’s loaded Big Ten tournament. If Maryland keeps it up, it can stack several quality wins before Selection Sunday.
Louisville’s resume doesn’t quite line up to the current projected No. 1 seeds yet, but it’s tough to completely rule the Cardinals out of the mix. A win at Duke is huge, and Louisville will have another massive opportunity Monday at Florida State.
It would probably require winning each of its remaining games and an ACC tournament championship to get the job done for a No. 1 seed. Because the ACC is roughly a three-team race, though, winning out isn’t as far-fetched for Louisville as some may believe.
Eli Boettger is a college basketball writer and founder of HeatCheckCBB.com. He has previously worked for Sporting News, DAZN and USA TODAY SMG.
Boettger’s content has been featured by Bleacher Report, NBC Sports, FiveThirtyEight, Yahoo Sports, Athletic Director University, Washington Post, Illinois Law Review and Notre Dame Law Review, among other publications. Boettger is also a current USBWA member.