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Schools still chasing NCAA tourney top seeds? Quite a few, actually

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Selection Sunday is now just a week away, and Jerry Palm still has Florida, Wichita State, Villanova and Arizona as the projected No. 1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament. Let the record show that I agree with him -- evidence being that those four schools are ranked first, second, third and fourth in my Top 25 (and one) that updates daily.

Florida seems like a lock to get a No. 1 seed regardless of what happens in the SEC tournament, and Wichita State will become a lock if it wins Sunday, I think. Arizona and Villanova? Yeah, those schools will likely be the other two No. 1 seeds if they both win out.

But what if Wichita State, Arizona and/or Villanova falters over the next week?

Who would then be in a position to move to the top line?

Let's take a look at some candidates ...

(Schools listed in order of current RPI ranking.)

Kansas

RPI ranking: 3 | Record: 23-8
Top 50 wins: 12 | Top 100 wins: 16
Losses outside of the top 50: 1

Some thoughts: The Jayhawks won the Big 12 by two games, and they have two more top-50 wins than anybody else. That's notable and impressive, considering they played the nation's toughest schedule, according to the RPI. But Saturday's loss at West Virginia was KU's eighth this season, and no team has ever been a No. 1 seed with more than seven losses. So keep that in mind as Selection Sunday approaches.

Wisconsin

RPI ranking: 5 | Record: 25-5
Top 50 wins: 7 | Top 100 wins: 15
Losses outside of the top 50: 2

Some thoughts: The Badgers will have a strong case for a No. 1 seed regardless of what Wichita State, Villanova and Arizona do going forward -- provided they win at Nebraska on Sunday and then take the Big Ten tournament. They already own wins over the SEC champs (Florida), ACC champs (Virginia) and Big Ten champs (Michigan). That's a strong resume.

Virginia

RPI ranking: 9 | Record: 25-5
Top 50 wins: 4 | Top 100 wins: 10
Losses outside of the top 50: 1

Some thoughts: The Cavaliers are short on top-50 wins relative to the rest of the candidates. But what if they back their ACC regular-season title with an ACC tournament title and take a 17-game winning streak into Selection Sunday? Then, I think, it would be pretty easy to make a compelling case for Tony Bennett's team.

Michigan

RPI ranking: 10 | Record: 23-7
Top 50 wins: 8 | Top 100 wins: 13
Losses outside of the top 50: 2

Some thoughts: The Wolverines won the Big Ten's regular-season title by two games, and they own road wins at Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State. Still, they almost have as many losses as Kansas, and they can't match the Jayhawks in quality wins. So Michigan is probably behind KU in the pecking order for a top seed, at least.

Cuse was a lock 1-seed three weeks ago, but losses to BC and Ga. Tech hurt. (USATSI)
Cuse was a lock 1-seed three weeks ago, but losses to BC and Ga. Tech hurt. (USATSI)

Syracuse

RPI ranking: 12 | Record: 26-4
Top 50 wins: 6 | Top 100 wins: 14
Losses outside of the top 50: 2

Some thoughts: The Orange were on track as a No. 1 seed only three weeks ago. But they've lost four of their past five, and it's hard to imagine a team with home losses to Boston College and Georgia Tech getting a No. 1 seed ... especially when you consider that two of Syracuse's best four wins came before the calendar turned to 2014.

San Diego State

RPI ranking: 15 | Record: 27-3
Top 50 wins: 3 | Top 100 wins: 7
Losses outside of the top 50: 1

Some thoughts: Odds are the Aztecs simply will not have enough quality wins to get to the top line. But they do have wins over Kansas, Creighton and New Mexico, and their lone loss outside of the top 20 is a road loss at Wyoming.

Cincinnati

RPI ranking: 16 | Record: 26-5
Top 50 wins: 7 | Top 100 wins: 9
Losses outside of the top 50: 0

Some thoughts: The Bearcats haven't lost to a team that isn't currently projected to make the NCAA Tournament, and they have wins over Louisville, UConn, SMU and Memphis (twice). Obviously, they'd need to win the American tournament and get some help from others to even have a shot at a No. 1 seed. But, theoretically, they do have a shot.

Louisville

RPI ranking: 21 | Record: 26-5
Top 50 wins: 6 | Top 100 wins: 7
Losses outside of the top 50: 0

Some thoughts: There are only five teams with zero losses outside of the top 50 of the RPI, and Louisville is one of them. So that's the best part of the Cardinals' resume -- no bad losses. If they can add two more top-50 wins in the American tournament, they might have a shot at getting a No. 1 seed for the second straight season.

 
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