2017 March Madness Picks and Predictions: Projecting the No. 1 Seeds: Conference play is in full swing in college basketball, and teams and fans are already turning their attention to March and the NCAA Tournament. While many teams are scratching and clawing just to claim a spot in the field of 68, the top teams in the country have their eyes on a No. 1 seed and a preferred path to the Final Four. With that in mind, here is a closer look at the teams currently in contention for the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
2017 March Madness Picks and Predictions: Projecting the No. 1 Seeds
The defending national champion Villanova Wildcats are putting the rest of the college basketball world on notice that a repeat title is a real possibility. They are sitting at 23-2 on the year and are on ranked No. 2 in the RPI. Led by Wooden Award candidate Josh Hart, the Wildcats have proven themselves against tough competition, going 4-1 against opponents in the Top 25 of the RPI and 7-1 against opponents in the Top 50.
With a 24-0 record, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are currently sitting atop the AP poll with a potent offense that goes seven players deep. Granted, their strength of schedule leaves a lot to be desired, but they sit a respectable 12th in the RPI. There measurable might not be as strong as some of the other top teams, but wins against Arizona, Iowa State and Florida provide enough legitimization to a resume that doesn’t have a single blemish on it.
They are perennial contenders for a top seed, and the Kansas Jayhawks are back in the mix this season. They sit third in the AP poll with a 21-3 record, and they also sit third in the RPI with a Top 25 strength of schedule. The Jayhawks already have eight wins over teams in the RPI Top 50, and the continued progression of star freshman Josh Jackson should only help Kansas’ chances of maintaining a spot on the top line.
Based purely on measurables, a strong case can be made that the Baylor Bears are the team that most deserves a No. 1 seed. Despite sitting sixth in the AP poll, they rank first in the RPI and own the fourth best strength of schedule. They also own nine wins over teams ranked in the Top 50 in the RPI, and they don’t have a bad loss on their resume.
In the Mix
They have faced a brutal schedule, but the Louisville Cardinals have soldiered their way to a 19-5 record with excellent ratios. The sit fourth in the AP poll and fifth in the RPI while boasting the seventh-best schedule. Yes, five losses is more than some of the other contenders, but all five have come against teams in the Top 50 of the RPI, including four in the Top 25.
One of the tougher teams to gauge is the North Carolina Tar Heels. They sit fourth in the RPI with a 20-4 record and a schedule that ranks in the Top 25. They are also 8-1 against opponents in the RPI Top 50, and the definitely pass the eye test with all their offensive firepower and ability to dominate the paint. On the flip side, three of their four losses fall into the “bad” category. They can’t afford to keep playing down to their competition.
They sit fifth in the AP poll with a 20-3 record, but the Oregon Ducks are a step behind in some of the other categories, ranking 10th in the RPI and owning just five wins over teams in the RPI Top 50. However, they have big wins over UCLA and Arizona, and they will have more chances to add to their resume. The margin for error is small, but the Ducks have a fighting chance at a top seed.
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