(credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
By: Ryan Mayer
As we near the best time of the year for college basketball fans, it’s time to take a look each week at which teams are the top dogs, which are just squeaking into the tourney, and which are on the outside looking in headed into the Big Dance.
Cream of the Crop (Number One Seeds)
1. Indiana: A tough loss on the road against the Illini, but a loss that isn’t as bad as people may think. The Hoosiers rebounded Sunday with a win over Ohio State and a beat down of Nebraska, Indiana retakes the #1 overall spot.
2. Miami: The Hurricanes have gone from unranked just a few short weeks ago to one of the top teams in the country. They continued their hot streak this past week with wins over UNC and Florida State, extending their win streak to 13 after a win Saturday against Clemson.
3. Florida: Two strong wins against Mississippi State and #25 Kentucky place the Gators back in the top four in the country and one of the #1 seeds if the tournament were decided today.
4. Duke: A strong performance in a revenge game against NC State moves the Blue Devils up to the second #1 seed heading into the tournament. Duke has run off six straight wins since the blowout loss to the Canes on January 23. A loss to Maryland drops them to the bottom of the 1 seed list.
On The Bubble
1. Charlotte: The 49ers haven’t had a big out-of-conference win this season, but they have won all of the games they were supposed to win and are coming off an upset of #11 Butler on Wednesday. Charlotte’s RPI (55) and BPI (77) are solid enough to place them in for now, they can improve their case with a win over Temple (Feb 24).
2. Maryland: No real impressive out-of-conference wins for the Terps, but wins over #14 NC State and this weekend over #2 Duke puts Maryland in the tournament. If they can win out the rest of the way, they will make the field easily.
1. Arizona State: Wins over UCLA and Cal along with a tough loss at Oregon help, but the downside for ASU is their SOS (strength of schedule) which stands at 114 and their marquee opponent in the-out-of conference slate? #16 Creighton, who they lost to 87-73. A loss to Stanford at home on Saturday definitely leaves them on the bubble.
2. Temple: The Owls have beaten Syracuse and hung tough with Kansas, but losses to St. Bonaventure, Canisius and most recently Duquesne, leave Temple in a tough spot needing to win a lot down the stretch to make it back into the field of 68.
The Atlantic 10 will have more bids than the Big 12 and Pac 12- The Atlantic 10 has become one of the best conferences nationally this season. They are currently 7th in Conference RPI only 0.1 behind both the Big 12 and Pac 12. The A10 is just a deeper overall conference; 7 teams have 16+ wins while the Big 12 has just four and the Pac 12 has five. I think the A10 gets five, possibly six teams, in while the other two get four.
Stony Brook will win the America East and be in the field of 68. This may not seem that bold just by looking at the standings and noticing that the Seawolves currently lead the America East with a 10-2 conference record. But each of the past two seasons SBU has lost in the conference championship game. No such failure this year for Stony Brook who is led by Jameel Warney in scoring at 12 PPG, but the real leader on this team is Tommy Brenton. The 6’5” senior plays power forward/center and is the ultimate glue guy. Brenton averages 8.7 PPG 8.3 RPG and 4.8 APG all while routinely guarding opponents much taller than him.
Ryan Mayer is a contributing writer for CBS Local Digital Media.