Coming into the season, I think most Kansas fans would have been happy with just an apperance in the NCAA Tournament. However, after a rough start, the Jayhawks continued to get better, and the expectations rose. After pulling home a Big 12 regular season title, at 14-2, there was some scuttlebutt of a potential 1-seed.
And, as soon as those rumblings were brought up, they were dashed. A loss in Lubbock pretty much ended any hope of getting a 1, but a 2 was still the goal. That was the goal, the destination for the Jayhawks when they entered the Big 12 Tournament. Win the whole thing, they were going to be a 2. A 3-seed looked to be assured, as long as they didn't choke and lose in the quarterfinals, their first game, on Thursday.
Well, we all know what happened. Baylor, finally deciding to play up to their potential, upset Kansas. Crash. Burn. Mass chaos.
Obviously, this calls into mind numerous questions about just how good this team is, and just how far they really can make it in the Tournament. But that isn't what this post is about, we'll get to those topics later. No, right now, we're just concerned with what seed we will end up with.
Will it be a 2-seed, the absolute best-case possibility? A 3-seed? Could we drop all the way down to a 4-seed, or even the always-dreaded 5-seed?
Some conjecture I try to pawn off as the absolute answer after the jump...
When trying to answer this question, we have to establish, roughly, where we are. Now, since the NCAA Tournament Committee has a tighter lid on information than Scott Pioli's Chiefs, it's absolutely impossible to determine where we are in their eyes. Hell, they probably don't even know where we are, currently. But people are paid to look at these numbers and pick the teams who make the field, so I'd imagine we can trust them to a reasonable extent. Here is what all of the experts have, all of them post-Baylor brackets:
What The Experts Say
Jerry Palm -- 3-seed, S-Curve: 10*
Joe Lunardi -- 2-seed. S-Curve: 8*
Andy Glockner (RCT's personal favorite) -- 3-seed. S-Curve: 12*
Bracketology 101 -- 4-seed. S-Curve: 15*
Blogging the Bracket -- Upcoming
* (I can't entirely determine the order of the #1 seeds, but this is the best guess I could come up with.)
That's pretty good news, overall. B101's 4-seed seems to be a bit extreme, especially considering Wake Forest and Washington were 3-seeds. Both teams lost today in their own conference tournaments, and hopefully will receive similar backlash to the one we received from the Baylor loss.
It also pretty much guarantees we won't be getting a 5-seed. The talk was very paranoid and non-sensical to begin with, but once you delve into the bracket world and really take a look at it, it just isn't happening.
Andy Glockner, who I mentioned is my personal favorite, very kindly responded to similar questions that I asked him on Thursday, only a couple of hours after Kansas' loss. And remember, this was before U-Dub and Wake's losses, to Arizona State and Maryland respectively, so it has gotten even better since:
Answering this quickly and in the vacuum of not knowing what will happen in the next three days, I'd say that keeping a 3 is possible, and I'd be really surprised if they were lower than a 4. Clemson's loss today helps with that. I can't see Gonzaga passing Kansas, either, so it's hard to find a way to get KU to a 5.
All good news. We aren't getting a 5-seed! But then the real question is what will we get, a 3-seed or a 4-seed? Or even a 2-seed, perhaps? It may seem inconsequential, and the actual teams we are matched up with is more important. But, there is an important distinction between a 3-seed and a 4-seed, and we need to capitalize and pick up the odd number.
A 3-Seed or a 4-Seed?
As I said, I think there is a huge difference between a 3-seed and a 4-seed. Really, it has everything to do with the Sweet 16. This year, in college basketball, there are three teams that, I think, are way better than the rest. North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Connecticut. Now, obviously, all three teams can be beaten, and I'll say right now that I guarantee all of them won't be making the trip all of the way up to Detroit. But, that's beside the point. What I was trying to say, is that we are about the equal of any team beyond that. Probably not Louisville, either, but they should be a 1-seed too. So, to me, there is a huge difference between having to play Duke or Oklahoma or Memphis in the Sweet 16 and playing against one of the Big Three (plus Louisville) there.
Plus, it lets you take on a 6-seed in the second round instead of a 5-seed. Again, this may not seem like a big deal, but it is. So, there's that.
We've now established the importance of getting a 3-seed over a 4-seed. It isn't life-or-death, by any stretch, but it's still certainly favorable to pick up the lower seed line. For. Sure. But how do we get there?
Well, according to the experts, we're pretty much already 'there' right now. But that can certainly change, and can change in the blink of an eye, with one run to the Conference Championship or one huge upset.
As I see it, here are the teams definitively in front of us:
Connecticut, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Memphis, Oklahoma (why, I don't know...we'll get into that later), Michigan State, Duke
That's 8 teams, right there. Or, basically, the top two seed lines. Like it or not, that seems to be the general consensus. So there are four more slots left, all four, to get on the 3-seed line. That's the goal, that's the ideal, that's what we should be focused on. Obviously, we can't do anything about it, but we can root against other teams. That always works, right?
A Kansas Fan's Rooting Guide: Who to Root Against
Again, according to these bracketologists, here are the teams around the same resume-level, who all could grab 3-seeds:
Washington, Wake, Villanova, Missouri, Florida State, Xavier, Syracuse, Illinois, Arizona State
Maybe I added a couple too many, and maybe some team like Purdue will come out of nowhere to show up and sneak in there, but I doubt it. So, for all intents-and-purposes, these are the teams we need to root against. Adding us to the group, that is essentially 10 main contenders for 4 spots on the 3-seed line. Here is how every team has fared/is faring, and what needs to happen for them to pop up to the 3-seed line:
Washington - Lost to Arizona State. That should drop them down to, at the very highest, a 4-seed. I doubt we have to worry about them anymore, so that's one off the list.
Wake Forest - Lost to Maryland. This was huge for us, and while no one likes Maryland and I was hoping they'd be left out of the Big Dance, at least they won their way in by helping us out. Wake was already a stretch, I thought, to be considered our equals. Both on the court and in the resumes. Now, it shouldn't be a problem, as the Deacs have 5-seed written all over them, to me. Maybe a 4-seed, I suppose, but I don't think so.
Villanova - Lost to Louisville. With tonight's loss, they fall back down into consideration. Still, they have the best resume of the bunch, by far, and I really expect the Wildcats to get a 3-seed. So, for now, we'll say one spot taken.
Missouri - Won against Oklahoma State -- vs. Baylor on Saturday. This is an interesting case, and it depends on tomorrow's game I think. The change to move the Big 12 Tournament up a day will have an impact in its first year, as a Missouri W, I think, locks them up at the 3-line. A loss, and they fall back into the bubble, of sorts.
Florida State - Won against Georgia Tech -- vs. North Carolina. For them to pick up a 3-seed, it will have to take an ACC Championship. If they can pull it off, yeah, they deserve it. If not, have fun as a 4-seed or 5-seed, depending on tomorrow's game. Beat UNC tomorrow, you're a 4, maybe even a 3 if you feel lucky. Lose, and have fun getting upset in the first round to a 12-seed (I'm not a big fan).
Xavier - Lost to Temple. Like Washington, their loss tonight really helps us. They were already on the periphery, at best, for getting a 3-seed since their late-season collapse, and tonight's loss in the semifinals to Temple clinched things.
Syracuse - Won against West Virginia -- vs. Louisville. This is the really interesting one. They haven't been mentioned this high in forever, but after the two straight awesome W's they picked up, I bet they sneak in and grab a 3-seed. They did beat us, if it comes down to that, although I don't think head-to-head is seriously considered. I think they get it, but I can't say for sure. If they win tomorrow against the Cards, they are guaranteed this spot.
Illinois - Won against Michigan -- vs. Purdue. I think it will take a Big 10/11 Tournament Championship for them to grab a 3-seed. So, go Boilermakers and go Spartans! They are a 5-seed right now, but to win the Title, they'd have to go through a 5/6-seed in Purdue and a 1/2-seed in Michigan State. That would likely bump them up enough, but I don't see it happening.
Arizona State - won against Washington -- vs. USC. USC is coming off a monstrous victory over UCLA which gave their slim-to-none NCAA at-large hopes plenty of life. If they could have just picked up one more really solid W, like against Xavier or against Oklahoma or against Cal in Berkeley, then they'd likely be in right now. But that isn't important. It'd be a solid win for the Sun Devils, and could bump them up and cause them to jump teams. Still, I don't see them jumping over the 1,2 and 3 seeds in the Pac 10 (U-Dub, UCLA and Cal respectively). They are a good team, but not nearly 3-seed material.
So, here is a brief summary:
Villanova and Syracuse look to be in as 3-seeds. So does Missouri.
That pretty much leaves one spot left. Eliminating Washington, Xavier, Wake Forest and Arizona State (who shouldn't have been in the list, really, but whatever) from contention, with today's losses, there are three teams left. If any of these teams does enough to get a 3-seed, which almost assuredly involves winning their conference tournament, I think we get knocked down to the 4-seed.
So, the key is rooting against Illinois and Florida State. Neither looks good enough to sneak up and win their conference. Like, at all. So, we should be set. Just no freak tournament runs from the Noles or Illini, and we should be fine.
After all of that, I'm fairly certain that is all it comes down to. I doubt any other team (maybe Purdue?) can sneak up and pass us, at least any team that is still playing. Barring an incredible next two days from either FSU or Purdue, we should be a 3-seed. Key word is should, of course.
So, no need to worry. We're good.
We're going to be a 3-seed.