Several conferences that are expected to have multiple bids to the NCAA tournament begin play this week, and there will be implications throughout the bracket for all of them.
The first of those is the ACC, which starts on Tuesday. Normally, the first day of the larger conference tournaments features teams that have no at-large hopes whatsoever. That is not the case with the ACC.
Notre Dame is the 10-seed and faces Pitt. I do not have the Irish on the bubble at the moment. I know everyone is salivating at the return of Bonzie Colson and seeing if the Irish can become the team many thought they would be in the preseason. However, let's not overrate what they were before Colson got hurt.
Notre Dame was 10-3 prior to Colson getting hurt. Yes, the Irish beat Wichita State to win the Maui invitational, but they played Chaminade (which does not count in RPI) and LSU to get to that title game. The Irish also lost to Ball State at home and to Indiana in Indianapolis, two of their three worst losses of the season, and got blown out at Michigan State. Their other eight games they played were quadrants 3 and 4 ( ). That isn't a stellar first 13 games.
At the other end of the league, Duke is trying to join Virginia as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Blue Devils are battling Kansas for the fourth spot on the top line right now. Kansas is still there even with seven losses because it has played such a strong schedule, which includes ten top quadrant wins. Duke has six Q1 wins and only six total losses. Each team has some regrettable losses, including Kansas' most recent one at Oklahoma State. If Kansas is the king of quadrant 1, Duke is the kind of quadrant 3, where it has eight wins.
This battle will likely be decided in the conference tournaments. If Kansas wins the Big 12 tournament to finish off the double championship, it will be hard to deny the Jayhawks a spot on the top line. Their seven losses would tie the record for the most for a No. 1 seed. If Kansas gets loss number eight, the door is open for Duke, should it win the ACC.
Notre Dame and Duke could meet in the ACC quarterfinals in a must win game for each team if it hopes to reach its goal.