The Case for No. 1

There are five teams right now that look to be legitimate No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament: Kansas, Ohio State, Texas, Duke and Pittsburgh. But for this blog post, I’ll be discussing who will be the new Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN No. 1 come Monday.

Ohio State was the last remaining undefeated team until they lost on Saturday to Wisconsin.  Duke, Pittsburgh and Kansas all picked up a good win this week while Texas beat up on Oklahoma and Baylor.

The Case For No. 1

Ohio StateThe Buckeyes were the last remaining undefeated team in the NCAA this season. They feature freshman of the year and national player of the year contender, Jared Sullinger.

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 3

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 5

Strength of Schedule: 36

RPI: 3

Signature Wins:Florida, Illinois, Purdue

Losses:Wisconsin on February 12th

Rest of the way:Michigan State, at Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, at Penn State and Wisconsin

Texas – Texas is the only team in the top seven of the AP Top 25 with more than two losses. All of those losses occurred in non-conference play. The only other teams that are undefeated in their conference are Coastal Carolina and Princeton.

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 31

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 1

Strength of Schedule: 21

RPI: 8

Signature Wins: Illinois, Michigan State, North Carolina, Kansas, Missouri, Texas A&M x 2

Losses: at Pittsburgh, at USC, and at UConn

Rest of the way:  Oklahoma State, at Nebraska, Iowa State, at Colorado, Kansas State and at Baylor

Pittsburgh – Probably the least talked about teams for that No. 1 spot. Odd that people want Texas ranked over Kansas yet Pitt has one less loss and they beat Texas head to head. They’re arguably playing in the best basketball conference in the country and their strength of schedule will continue to improve.

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 4

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 21

Strength of Schedule: 19

RPI: 6

Signature Wins: UConn, Texas, Georgetown, Syracuse, West Virginia, Villanova

Losses: Tennessee, Notre Dame

Rest of the way: South Florida, at St. John’s, West Virginia, at Louisville, at South Florida, Villanova

Duke – The defending National Champions have had an odd season. Their two biggest non-conference opponents have fallen far from their top 10 rankings (Kansas State, Michigan State) and up until this past week against North Carolina, they haven’t faced a top 25 team. They face Temple and North Carolina again in the next month, though. Their resume is probably the weakest of these five teams. However, their Adj. Offensive and Defensive ratings are both in the top 10 and that, for the most part, makes them a title contender. They’re experienced and they’ll do just fine in the tournament (with or without a No. 1 seed)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 5

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 6

Strength of Schedule: 42

RPI: 7

Signature Wins: Kansas State (playing in Kansas City when the Wildcats weren’t in shambles yet), Michigan State, North Carolina

Losses: at Florida State, at St. John’s

Rest of the way: at Miami, at Virginia, Georgia Tech, Temple, at Virginia Tech, Clemson, at North Carolina

Kansas – What’s really odd about Kansas’ resume is that their strength of schedule is 12th but outside of Arizona, their non-conference schedule was a huge let down. UCLA, Memphis, Southern Cal, California and Michigan all had down years. Yet, despite the doubts, their RPI and strength of schedule is great. What is really scary for teams in the tournament is that KU is going to get guys back healthy just as the season ends. Josh Selby missed nine games at the start of the year and he’s missed three (will be at least four) games due to injury. Travis Releford has been injured. Thomas Robinson has missed games due to personal issues, as well as injury. Mario Little missed time due to discipline. The whole roster has barely played together fully yet.

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 2

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 7

Strength of Schedule: 12

RPI: 1

Signature Wins: Arizona, Memphis (kinda), Missouri

Losses: Texas

Rest of the way: at Kansas State, Colorado, Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma, Texas A&M, at Missouri

So who is the No. 1 team in the nation?

The biggest debate going into Monday is that will Ohio State remain No. 1 or will Texas or Kansas move ahead of the Buckeyes. Based on voters normally do their seeding, it is quite clear that Ohio State will drop to No. 2 or No. 3. I don’t see Pittsburgh or Duke jumping ahead of those three teams.

The case for Kansas is that their one loss was to Texas, but they only had an hour of sleep and ran out of gas seven minutes into the game. Don’t forget the Jayhawks were up 18-3 at one point. If voters are going to knock Kansas because they lost once at home, then they need to knock Texas for losing at home to UConn in overtime. Southern Cal destroyed Texas while Kansas beat them at home.

If I had a vote, I’d go: 1. Kansas, 2. Texas, 3. Ohio State, 4. Pittsburgh, 5. Duke

If I was picking the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament today, I’d go: 1. Ohio State, 2. Kansas, 3. Texas, No. 4 Pittsburgh