For example, by every metric, Duke (27-4) ranks among the nation’s top four teams and deserves a No. 1 NCAA regional seed, perhaps the top overall seed. But what if the Blue Devils, who finished second to Miami during the regular season, stumble in the ACC tournament?
All 31 ACC teams seeded No. 1 in the NCAA tournament since seeding began in 1979 have won either the conference tournament or at least a share of the regular season title.
That said, Duke is a unique case, 15-0 before Ryan Kelly injured his foot and 3-0 since his return. Would one loss with the team at full strength boot the Devils off the top line?
Moreover, what if Miami (24-6) wins the ACC tournament, and does so by besting Duke in the final? Since 1979, each of the eight teams to claim the regular season outright and the ACC tournament received No. 1 NCAA seeds.
Those teams: Duke in 1986 and ’92, North Carolina in ’93, Duke in 1999 and 2000, North Carolina in ’05, Duke in ’06 and Carolina in ’08.
Duke and Miami certainly have the Rating Percentage Index numbers associated with top seeds. The Blue Devils are No. 1 on the RPI with a No. 1 schedule, non-conference and overall. Their 10-2 record against top 50 RPI teams is unsurpassed.
Miami is No. 4 on the RPI, played the No. 3 non-conference schedule and is 6-2 versus the top 50.
“As I think back a year ago, the 1 line in the tournament was in pretty clear focus,” NCAA selection committee chairman Mike Bobinski said Wednesday during a teleconference with reporters. “We had a couple of very dominant teams, at least two or three [Kentucky, Syracuse and North Carolina] that had really established themselves at the top of the field.
“This year looks a little different. I anticipate there will be a number of teams we'll be seriously considering and discussing on the first line of the bracket. … As I walk into our process this year, I would tell you that I probably have seven teams that are in my mind for those first four spots.”
Best guess on those seven: Duke, Miami, Indiana, Louisville, Georgetown, Kansas and Gonzaga.
Bobinski is the athletic director at Xavier, and this spring he’ll take the same position at Georgia Tech. This is his fifth season on the committee.
“I think that will all come to clarify, into focus, over these next couple days,” Bobinski said. “That's about where I am right now. I think seven for the top four. It could be even as few as six. It's more than four for the top four, I know that. … It's probably as big as it's ever been.”
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