Can BYU Or San Diego State Snag A No. 1 Seed?

Depending on who your favorite bracketologist is the top seeds at this point in the NCAA tournament look to be some combination of Duke, Ohio State, Pitt, Kansas and Texas.  Texas and Kansas seem to be the most common difference at this point with the nod going to Kansas in some circles based on the overall record with others arguing for Texas based on the current lead for the Big 12 title. 

But what about BYU or San Diego State?  The other two teams that have been consistently perched in the top seven are being given an outside shot by some and almost no chance from others.  Do they have a legit argument?  And what would need to happen among the five "favorites" in order to allow a Mountain West team to snag a spot?

To start there are those ever popular arguments surrounding strength of schedule and RPI. 

Team RPI Strength Of Schedule
Duke 6 40
Ohio State 3 25
Kansas 1 9
Pitt 9 26
Texas 8 17
San Diego State 2 34
BYU 4 23

 

Pretty comparable across the board in terms of RPI with Texas and Pitt bringing up the rear, while Duke and San Diego State have the weakest strength of schedule among the three.  Kansas has the best argument in both categories while the differences can be argued a lot of different ways among the other six.  Regardless of where you stand on these, they are factors that are taken into account by the committee. 

So what about wins/losses and the quality of said wins and losses.  Good wins are typically measured against the RPI top 50.  As for a bad loss, that measuring stick seems to be a team below 100 in the RPI

Team Wins Losses Good Bad
Duke 25 2 Kansas State, North Carolina

(No Outside of the Top 50)

Worst Loss Florida State(RPI 48)

Ohio State 25 2

@Florida, @Florida State, Minnesota, Purdue

Michigan State, Illinois

(No Outside of the Top 50)

Worst Loss Wisconsin(RPI 17)

Kansas 26 2

Arizona, UCLA, Memphis, Colorado State,

Kansas State, Missouri

(No Outside of the Top 50)

Worst Loss K-State(RPI 31)

Pitt 24 3

Texas, Connecticut, Georgetown, Syracuse

West Virginia, Cincinnati, Villanova,

(No Outside of the Top 50)

Worst Loss Tennessee(RPI 29)

Texas 23 4 Kansas, Illinois, North Carolina, Michigan State,  Texas A&M(2), Missouri,


Worst Loss USC(RPI 87)

San Diego State 25 1 Saint Mary's, UNLV(2), Colorado State,

(No Outside of the Top 50)

Worst Loss BYU(RPI 4)

BYU 24 2 Utah State, Saint Mary's, Arizona, UNLV(2), San Diego State, Colorado State
Worst Loss New Mexico(RPI 85)

 

BYU and Texas hold the worst two losses in the group.  Texas is the only school with more than one loss to a team outside of the top 50 with Nebraska checking in at 59 in the RPI. 

Duke and San Diego State have the least in terms of "quality" wins, while Pitt, BYU and Texas can both claim seven.  Kansas and Ohio State check in with six wins over top 50 RPI teams while San Diego State has just four and all four come against mid-major opponents. 

Going strictly on by the numbers and based on the caliber of wins and losses it does become difficult to make a argument against power conference teams Kansas and Ohio State based on the resume. Pitt has run the gauntlet and managed it well and it's hard to believe a Big East champ won't get the nod.

Obviously the argument for Texas over Kansas is the Big 12 title and the head to head, but maybe the argument should really exist between Texas and Duke.  Duke has one of the weaker resume's in the group, but they do get a bit of the benefit of the doubt and if I'm using a job search analogy, the ACC, Duke and Coach K interview very well. 

So where do BYU and San Diego State fit?  Right now they don't.  It's just not happening for a mid major if it were decided today.  The good news for both is that the season isn't over.

Team Key Games Left On The Schedule
Duke Temple, Carolina, ACC Tourney
Ohio State Wisconsin, Big 10 Tourney
Kansas Texas A&M, Missouri, Big 12 Tourney
Pitt West Virginia, Louisville, Villanova, Big East Tourney
Texas Kansas State, Big 12 Tourney
San Diego State BYU, Colorado State, MWC Tourney
BYU Colorado State, San Diego State, MWC Tourney

 

For starters, SDSU needs to beat BYU in the second head to head.  Lose that one and they lose the argument.  If BYU loses then the argument probably comes down to which one wins the MWC tourney with that loss to New Mexico providing a bit of a hurdle for BYU. 

As for the other five, Pitt has the biggest opportunity as well as the most risk headed into the final stretch.  Duke and Kansas can also boost their resume with a pair of solid regular season games remaining and certainly all of the contenders have a potential conference tourney title run to boost the argument.

As for the original question of BYU or SDSU, the reality is that there aren't going to be two MWC teams snagging a top seed and a three game sweep by BYU or a one loss finish by San Diego State probably provides the best argument.  With the substantial stumbling blocks still standing in front of the other 5 power conference candidates, either of those scenario's provide a very real possibility for BYU or SDSU.

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