The 2014 NCAA tournament is almost here, which means March Madness is in full swing. Teams are battling for regular season conference titles, conference tournament championships, and spots in the NCAA tournament. While the middle of the pack never gets figured out until selection Sunday, the top seeds and bubble teams are under constant scrutiny.
Number one seeds in the 2014 NCAA tournament are going to be harder to come by this year. With only four spots, it is always a close race, but three teams have really separated themselves. If they finish running the table by beating Kentucky on Saturday and barring a defeat in the SEC tournament, Florida is well on their way to a one seed. Wichita State has been on the rise as a basketball program and the Shockers have grabbed the attention of everyone. Finishing the regular season undefeated, they head into the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference tournament ready to make history.
Arizona is almost a lock for a number one seed in the 2014 NCAA tournament. The Wildcats had an excellent regular season, only suffering two losses and getting a win over Duke that looks good. But their late season struggles are reminiscent of Syracuse right now. If Arizona can get past Oregon on Saturday, they need to come out of the Pac 12 tournament with a win to lock up their number one seed.
That leaves one more number one seed up for grabs if Arizona takes care of business. So who will get that last number one seed in the 2014 NCAA tournament? There are a few options, but as always, one loss could change everything.
The ACC battle has been bloody, nasty and a war of attrition. With one exception. Virginia has handled themselves with poise all season. After dismantling Syracuse on Saturday, the Cavaliers look like a legitimate number one contender. They still have a tough match up with Maryland on Sunday, but a win against the Terrapins and an ACC tournament championship would lock them in as the final one seed for the NCAA tournament.
Duke would be next on the list, if they had not gone down to unranked Wake Forrest on Wednesday night. That loss is sure to make Duke slip to at least a two seed, potentially a three. Villanova has managed to arise out of the new Big East as the team to beat. While that is not as significant as it used to be, they are still a three loss team. They have the second toughest road remaining to the 2014 NCAA tournament. A good Xavier team awaits them tonight and a battle with Georgetown. Not to mention they may face a Creighton team in the Big East tournament that has beaten them twice.
Louisville has the most difficult path to a number one seed in the 2014 NCAA tournament. But if they finish off 19th ranked Connecticut on Saturday, they will lock in a regular season title in the American Athletic Conference. An argument could be made that the AAC is the best conference in the NCAA heading into the tournament. If Louisville wins their conference tournament and beat UConn, they will be the main challenger to Virginia for the final number one seed.
What about the Big Ten and Big 12? The battle between Wisconsin and Michigan ultimately keep those two teams as either two or three seeds. Kansas will suffer from being too inconsistent this year. Seven losses do not look good, especially the non-conference losses. My prediction? Virginia loses in the ACC tournament, Louisville wins out the rest of the regular season and grabs the final number one spot in the 2014 NCAA tournament.
What’s your prediction?