As the College basketball season starts to make the transition from inter-conference play to conference play, teams are emerging as contenders to take a number 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament. While teams like Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, and Virginia appear as favorites to earn a top spot, there are plenty of teams that could easily make the jump to a one seed that are currently being hidden by the AP and USA Today rankings. While the AP and USA Today rankings may rank team based on their performance and schedule, the college basketball committee takes more factors into consideration, for example BPI and RPI which truly show the strength of each team.
I am predicting that the first number 1 seed this season will be KENTUCKY. Kentucky will receive a number one seed based purely on the fact that they are proven champions. So far Kentucky has defeated 4 Top 25 opponents. This includes their monstrous win over UCLA, where they held the Bruins to only 7 Points in the first half and started out on 24-0 run. It also includes their 32 point victory over #10 Kansas who was ranked #5 at the time. While many people are already saying that Kentucky will go undefeated this season considering how weak the SEC is, but a loss here or there is not out of the question. However, each loss should not derail Kentucky’s season and take away that number 1 seed. Kentucky did lose junior, Alex Poythress for the remainder of the season but they have shown that they can continue to dominate without him. As they still have 11 elite players, including 8 former McDonald’s All-Americans
For the second number 1 seed this season, I am predicting WISCONSIN. This prediction may appear as a shocker to many, however it is impossible to assume that #2 Duke, #4 Louisville, and #5 Virginia will escape conference play undefeated considering that they have each yet to play each other, along with games against other strong ACC teams. So far this season, Wisconsin has suffered one loss to #2 Duke. The Badgers have been able to handle other strong teams like Georgetown and Oklahoma, who possess the kind of talent that Wisconsin will likely be seeing all year in their conference play. As long as Wisconsin does not face a major injury to any of its top players, like senior, Frank Kaminsky or junior, Sam Dekker, and continue their current level of play, they can easily go undefeated for the rest of the season and finish with one loss.
I am predicting the 3rd number 1 seed to go to DUKE. The Blue Devils are currently undefeated and are looking strong with their very young team this season lead by number 1 recruit Jahlil Okafor, Justice Winslow, and Tyus Jones. Duke has had some solid wins during inter-conference play, most notably, their win over #6 Wisconsin who was #2 at the time and their more recent win over UCONN. While it sounds like there is no question that Duke will receive a number 1 seed, Duke will have a very bumpy path to earn this spot. Duke will play 7 more games against top 25 teams, plus the very difficult ACC tournament. They have a lot of competitive games remaining, and with such a young team it is impossible to predict how they will fare as the lights continue to get brighter. The committee will be understanding that a loss or two is due to Duke’s strength of schedule. For Duke to earn this spot they will need to not lose more than 3 games in conference play, not face any major injuries, and continue their high level of play.
For the last number 1 seed this season I am predicting VILLANOVA. The Wildcats are currently number ranked number #7 in the country but this will soon change during conference play. 3 of the spots ahead of them in the rankings currently belong to ACC teams that are without a doubt going to lose a couple games, also #3 Arizona will fall after their loss to UNLV on Tuesday. Along with Villanova only having to play 1 more ranked opponent this season, (#19 St. Johns) whom they play twice. Villanova will get the bump into the top 3 teams in the nation during this season without a doubt. In the past couple of years, the committee has given teams, not in to the major conferences, a top spot in the tournament. For example Gonzaga earning a number 1 seed in 2013 and Wichita State earning a number 1 seed in 2014. So if Villanova can win out and dominate, they could be punching their trip to the big dance with a number 1 seed.
Don’t count out teams like Virginia, Louisville and Arizona, as they are all still very talented teams. These are simply the teams that I am predicting to earn a number one seed in this year’s NCAA Men’s College Basketball tournament. As the season progresses, and more and more teams are upset, the rankings are guaranteed to fluctuate, but one thing is for sure, I can’t wait for March.