Bracketology: Kansas and Baylor try to lock down their No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament bracket

The battle for No. 1 seeds is usually a little more active than it has been this season. Even before the NCAA Tournament selection committee announced Baylor, Kansas, Gonzaga and San Diego State as their top four seeds on Feb. 8, those teams had been steady at the top of my bracket as well. The last time any of those teams lost was the Jayhawks’ loss at home to Baylor on Jan. 11. It was Kansas also with the most recent loss to a team not on the top line, which was at Villanova on Dec. 21.

Baylor and Kansas are locks as No. 1 seeds as long as they only lose to each other. The Jayhawks make the trip to Waco, Texas, to battle the Bears on Saturday and they could face each other again in the Big 12 Tournament. In that case, the overall No. 1 would likely be whichever team wins the season series.

It is also possible that a loss to West Virginia, the clear third best team in the league, might not knock either team off the top line entirely. A loss to anyone else in the Big 12 would put that No. 1 seed into question.

Gonzaga and San Diego State are also going to be No. 1 seeds if each wins out. If either were to lose, it puts that top seed in jeopardy for that team. That is because of the quality of opposition each of those teams faces in their respective leagues. The Zags do have two other potential NCAA Tournament teams in BYU and Saint Mary’s, but the Aztecs only have one. That is Utah State, which is squarely on the bubble. Losses to those teams are less damaging, but could still open the door for someone else.

However, which teams are waiting in the wings?  There seems to be a clear line between the current top seeds and the rest of the bracket. Here’s a look at the top of the next tier:  

Dayton: The committee was quite fond of Dayton in its bracket reveal a couple of weeks ago. The Flyers were the No. 6 team overall, behind only Duke on the No. 2-line. The Blue Devils appeared to be strengthening their position to make a move to the top prior to getting drilled at NC State on Wednesday.

Dayton is lacking in higher quality wins, but you can think of them as being two points from undefeated. Each of their losses, to Kansas and Colorado on neutral courts, came in overtime. Their best wins are over Saint Mary’s, at Richmond, home against Rhode Island and a sweep of VCU. There is no margin for error if the Flyers hope to move up. They have to win out.

Maryland: The Terrapins have separated themselves from the pile of quality teams in the Big Ten. Maryland has won nine straight and only have losses at Seton Hall, Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin. They have proven to be one of the few Big Ten teams to find ways to win on the road. They have four Quadrant 1 wins away from home and seven overall.

A team from the Big East: If any of the top three in the Big East could pull away and make a run, that team would be a good candidate as well. The best of those is Villanova, which has a win over Kansas and no losses to anyone worse than Marquette.

If the current top line holds up to the end, it will be the first time that all four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament will reside west of the Mississippi River. That is not as strange as these four teams remaining unchallenged for as long as they have this season.

Bracketology top seeds

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