Welcome to the latest installment of our weekly series looking at the top 10 NCAA Tournament resumes.
Itâs now March and getting down to the home stretch of the season. Even still, no team (or even a small group of teams) has separated itself from the pack.
This list figures to remain pretty fluid over the next month. Donât be surprised if we have another chaotic week before the season ends like the one at the end of January.
We now have the benefit of seeing what the selection committee thought of these teams as of Feb. 11. Here is how things stand as of games through Tuesday.
Best wins: vs. Louisville, West Virginia, Oregon
Last week: No. 4
Baylor has nine RPI top 50 wins, which is a high number, and all of those wins currently in the bracket. Their inability to beat Kansas is frustrating, but if the Bears end up not being a No. 1 seed, it will be more because of the losses at home to Kansas State and at Texas Tech than the ones to Kansas. Because of the quality of the Big 12, you cannot rule out a run to the top line, but the Bears would need to win out and maybe get some help.
Losses: Kansas, at Louisville, at Florida, UCLA, at Tennessee
Last week: NR
Kentucky clinched the SEC title Tuesday with a win over Vanderbilt. The Wildcats do not have as many of the higher quality wins as some of these teams in part because they didnât take advantage of chances at home and in part because the SEC does not provide them with many. Still, had they won at Tennessee, they would be pushing for a spot at the top of the bracket.
Best wins: Oregon, at Kentucky, at Arizona, USC
Losses: at Oregon, Arizona, at USC
Last week: NR
UCLA was dinged for having a weak schedule when the selection committee revealed its top 16 last month. Itâs a little stronger now after having played Arizona, but the Bruinsâ SOS may hold them back from a legitimate shot at a No. 1 seed. It will be interesting to how the committee feels about that if the Bruins win out.
Best wins: at UCLA, at USC
Losses: vs. Butler, vs. Gonzaga, at Oregon, UCLA
Last week: No. 8
Arizona has been good away from home, with four of their top five wins coming outside of Tucson. The blowout loss at Oregon is the difference between being the Wildcats and the Ducks at the moment. That is not an unimportant distinction. Arizona might be on the top line of the bracket right now if they had beaten UCLA at home. The top-rated Pac-12 team is very likely to be placed in the West Regional in San Jose, which would block any other league team that is in the top 16 from that region. The only thing that would make that not true is if the league champ has the same seed as Gonzaga, but is behind them in the 1-68 list.
Best wins: Arizona, UCLA, USC (twice)
Last week: No. 7
The Ducks are ahead of Arizona despite having more (and worse) losses and a worse strength of schedule than the Wildcats because they annihilated Arizona in their one head-to-head meeting of the season. Of course, they may play each other again before then. Oregon has a game at their rival, Oregon State, but the Beavers are having a miserable year, so that does not help Oregon. If the Ducks can win out, they have a legitimate shot at a No. 1 seed.
Last week: No. 6
The Cards have a few pretty good wins, but they have all come at home. That is not a problem they can fix until the conference tournament. There isnât anything resembling a bad loss here, and they were competitive in most of those games, but Virginia gives Louisville fits. Louisville has also played one of the toughest overall schedules. The Cardinals still have a shot at a No. 1 seed.
Best wins: Louisville, Florida State, Virginia, vs. Wisconsin, Notre Dame
Last week: No. 5
North Carolina had its run of hot play stopped dead in its tracks at Virginia, where the Tar Heels could only manage 43 points. That is more like a typical half for them. Still, this is a team with a lot of quality wins against a pretty good schedule. It may be tough to finish as a No. 1 seed with seven losses, though, and they already have six.
Best wins: vs. Florida, vs. Arizona, St. Maryâs (twice)
Last week: No. 3
Gonzaga finally lost, and to a team that seemingly has its number. BYU beat the Zags for the third straight time at the Kennel. Gonzaga is now in danger of missing out on a No. 1 seed. Although there are certainly worse losses to be had in the West Coast Conference, this is not the same as losing to St. Maryâs, and losing at home is always worse. Even if Gonzaga wins out now, it is in danger of being jumped by a team with a stronger schedule. It will be interesting to see what the committee does with the Bulldogs.
Best wins: at Creighton, at Purdue, vs. Notre Dame, Virginia
Losses: Butler (twice), Marquette
Last week: No. 1
The defending champions have five RPI top-25 wins, which is exceeded only by Florida State, and 10 top 50 wins, which is matched only by Duke and Butler. Other than Gonzaga, there has been no more consistent team. They have been just about as good on the road as at home, with six of their top-50 wins coming away from home. Their only remotely questionable loss came at Marquette. It has been another stellar year for the Wildcats, which will almost certainly see them enter the tournament as a No. 1 seed.
Best wins: Baylor (twice), vs. Duke, at Kentucky, West Virginia
Losses: vs. Indiana, at West Virginia, Iowa State
Last week: No. 2
Stop me if you have heard this one before ... Kansas won the Big 12 championship. The Jayhawks and Villanova are neck and neck for the top spot in the bracket. Both have a slew of quality wins. Kansasâ loss to Indiana is worse, to be sure, even if you consider that it was before the wheels fell off the Hoosiersâ bandwagon. KUâs higher quality wins over Baylor, Kentucky and Duke are why I have the Jayhawks at the top.