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Indiana falls at Minnesota; why its No. 1 seed still no sure thing

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Minnesota locked up a tourney bid Tuesday, but it's Indiana's No. 1 seed chances that we're estimating now. (USATSI)

Regarding that cute little headline, yes, let's just get to the matter and address it right away. I'm not saying Indiana won't have a No. 1 seed, I'm just saying that possibility is now -- and once again -- a point of conversation, a much higher probability than prior to the Hoosiers' 77-73 loss at Minnesota Tuesday night.

(Oh, and just another really energetic, invigorating, thrilling college basketball game on a weeknight just went down. NBD.)

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Don't think there's any chance the Hoosiers slip to the 2 line? Then you've learned nothing from our season of disruption! As the prophet Garnett once uttered, anything is possible. Consider: Indiana still has to play one more road game -- at Michigan -- to close out the regular season on March 10. With a probable loss there, the Hoosiers would be up to five Ls and likely on even ground as many other teams in the hopper for a No. 1 seed heading into conference tourney play. Then, remember, we're talking Big Ten here. That league tournament is going to be nuts. You think IU can't get plucked in the semis? Of course it can. If that's the case, this IU team -- currently still the No. 1 overall seed, from where I sit -- could easily get shoved down one line.

Here's who's still in the race for the coveted top seeds. Duke, Miami , Florida, Gonzaga, Michigan, Michigan State, Kansas, Georgetown, New Mexico, Louisville, Arizona. Toss in Indiana and that's 12 teams with legitimate chances, still, of being in the No. 1 seed conversation

Indiana is the only team in that conversation without a win over an RPI 26-50 team. It's the only team aside from Arizona with a sub-.500 record against that group, too. IU's strength of schedule is in the mid-20s, compared to Miami, Duke, New Mexico, Florida, Louisville, Michigan State and Kansas -- all single-digit SOS strength numbers -- those metrics can definitely play a factor when there's little to separate so many teams with so much similarity. The 7-2 record against the Top 25 is quite nice, though. More Top-25 wins than anyone, and that's why IU's still a No. 1 seed as of tonight, tomorrow and by week's end.

It's hard to precisely deduce how much these games mean as the wheel spins tighter and we head to the conference tournament. Minnesota really needed that kind of victory. It was the Golden Gophers' first win over a No. 1 team since 1989, when it beat Illinois. It was the first time since Feb. 3 (so, six games) Minnesota put up more than 60 in a game. The Gophers looked good. The Barn in Minneapolis was a pulsating organism Tuesday night.

Watford and Zeller, who give IU 30 on average in a given night, had 17 points total. It wasn't Indiana's night, just as it hasn't been three times before. The way we've seen it with Duke and Michigan and Florida and Louisville and all the other teams listed above. Gonzaga, which stands to take over No. 1 if it beats BYU later this week, will probably be next.

That's the expounding, expanding commentary on 2012-13 college basketball. The team that's taken three separate vaults to the top of the rankings, and spent more time as No. 1 than anyone else, is just another one of the bunch when it comes to title contenders and top-seed chasers. It's the end of February and still the best bracket real estate is promised to no one. We've rarely had years like this.

I can barely stand the uncertainty. I hope it'll last.


For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, like us on Facebook and subscribe to the thrice-a-week podcast on iTunes. You can follow Matt Norlander on Twitter here: @MattNorlander.

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