Selection Sunday is only 39 days away, so why not discuss current trends in college hoops regarding the Big Dance? While some teams are jockeying for a No. 1 seed, some are just battling to sneak into the field. These next few weeks will epitomize the madness that March brings.
Buy: Kentucky Will Be a No. 1 Seed
The Wildcats have been on a roll ever since falling to the Tide in Tuscaloosa. Since that loss, they’ve rattled off nine in a row, including wins over Kansas, Auburn, Mississippi State and Florida. Coach Calipari is getting outstanding play from freshman guard Ashton Hagans, while P.J. Washington and Reid Travis have been playing well alongside each other down low. They still have two games against top-ranked Tennessee, which will go a long way in determining if the Cats can grab a one seed. Duke or Virginia, or perhaps even both, could be a No. 1 seed from the ACC on Selection Sunday. The same goes for Tennessee and Gonzaga. Especially this year with Louisville hosting the South Regional, it would be big for Kentucky to get a top seed. And their resume suggests that they should.
Sell: The Big Ten Will Get 10 Bids
Prior to a few weeks ago, it looked all but certain that the Big Ten had a legitimate shot at getting 10 teams into the tournament. Thanks to the struggles of Indiana, Ohio State and Nebraska, that now seems very unlikely. Now it is almost certain the Big Ten will get at least six teams in the field, with Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Maryland and Iowa. That means for 10 teams selected on Selection Sunday, the Hoosiers, who have won two games in 2019, can’t afford to drop many more. Ohio State and Nebraska are also two teams below .500 in conference and need more Quadrant 1 wins if the Big Ten has a chance of getting 10 teams in.
Buy: North Carolina is a Title Contender
Few teams are playing better basketball at the moment than the North Carolina Tar Heels. Freshman point guard Coby White is finally learning how to play the position under Roy Williams. When teams have two playmakers that are also seniors in Luke Maye and Cam Johnson, that’s a recipe for success in the NCAA Tournament. Also, the Tar Heels’ up-and-down style of play will be hard to keep up with come tournament time. Texas A&M steamrolled UNC in the Second Round last year, and that will add fuel to the fire for Carolina in the Big Dance. I’m buying North Carolina getting to Minneapolis and reaching their 21st Final Four.
Sell: Kansas Will Reach the Sweet 16
Unlike North Carolina and Kentucky, the Jayhawks are falling apart thanks to a three-game losing streak. Many knew they wouldn’t be the team that they were capable of when Udoka Azubuike went down for the year. Still, with guys like LaGerald Vick and Dedric Lawson, there’s still a plethora of talent to get things back on track. What Kansas is lacking is a guy like Frank Mason III, a veteran who can run the offense and provide a calming voice in the face of adversity. It’s still early, and they have time to work some things out, but something is off with this Jayhawk team. A Sweet 16 appearance would be an accomplishment for Bill Self at this point.