Three seed line looking scary in Lunardi’s latest Bracketology
You cannot count on one hand—and probably not even two—the number of teams that have a realistic chance of winning the National Championship. That says more about the lack of dominance at the top of men’s college basketball than it does about the depth. Sure, Kansas is good. Baylor is no slouch. Gonzaga is always a force—at least in the regular season. San Diego State has lost only once. Those are the four No. 1 seeds in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology, posted on Monday morning. But none of the other title contenders would fear going up against any of those teams in the NCAA Tournament. Even the current No. 2 line is less than daunting. It includes Dayton, Florida State, Maryland, and Seton Hall.
It is the next quartet that looks especially impressive, if not based on current form that at least in name recognition. Yes, it is the bluebloods of college basketball that will be chomping at the bit to get a shot at the likes of Kansas, Baylor, Florida State, and Maryland.
Louisville vacated its 2013 National Championship as part of its recent punishment for NCAA violations. On-court struggles, however, have been few and far between. Only once since 2005-06 have the Cardinals failed to post a winning record in their conference—and that was a 9-9 ACC mark under interim coach David Padgett, who was the bridge between Rick Pitino and Chris Mack. With sanctions behind them, the refocused Cards currently top the ACC at 15-4 (24-6 overall). Jordan Nwora (18.0 ppg) may not be the biggest name in college basketball, but he figures to be one of the breakout stars of the NCAA Tournament.
Villanova lost to Providence on an upset-filled Saturday in college basketball but remained on the three-line, as it was Creighton that got replaced by Louisville in Lundari’s bracket. The Wildcats, who are 11-5 in the Big East (22-7 overall), had previously won five games in a row. Last weekend’s setback notwithstanding, they appear to be peaking at the right time. That is nothing new for the ‘Cats, who have won two of the last four NCAA Tournaments. On the current squad, five different guys are averaging in double-figures—led by Saddiq Bey at 15.9 ppg.
These Wildcats are searching for their first national title since 2012. Although it’s not likely (+1000), they are by no means out of the mix. Kentucky took care of Auburn 73-66 this past Saturday to clinch the regular-season SEC championship. Head coach John Calipari’s crew is 14-2 in the conference and 24-5 overall. It has won eight straight in a stretch that also includes victories over LSU, Florida, and Tennessee. UK has knocked off Texas Tech, Louisville, and then-No. 1 Michigan State, as well, this season. The ‘Cats are dangerous with Immanuel Quickley, Tyrese Maxey, Nick Richards, and Ashton Hagans.
The Blue Devils must beat N.C. State on Monday (check out our free college basketball expert picks) if they want to stay within any kind of shouting distance for a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. Heck, right now they aren’t even a No. 2. Such is the case after head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team got blown out by none other than the Wolfpack 88-66 on Feb. 19. That was followed by losses to Wake Forest and Virginia. Still, Duke boasts wins over Kansas, Florida State, and Michigan State. With Tre Jones, Vernon Carey Jr., and Cassius Stanley on the floor, the Devils cannot be counted out.