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the one seeds

The one seeds
The New Orleans Saints probably didn’t feel much like a No. 1 seed Monday, considering they barely escaped with a victory against a Vikings team that exposed plenty of weaknesses. Still, when the Saints and the Colts meet in Miami Gardens, Fla., in two weeks, the Super Bowl will feature the two most dominant regular-season teams, and the top seeds in each conference.

No. 1 vs. No. 1: It’s Rarer Than You Think

The New Orleans Saints probably didn’t feel much like a No. 1 seed Monday, considering they barely escaped with a victory against a Vikings team that exposed plenty of weaknesses. Still, when the Saints and the Colts meet in Miami Gardens, Fla., in two weeks, the Super Bowl will feature the two most dominant regular-season teams, and the top seeds in each conference.

Since 1975, the top seeds in each conference have met in the Super Bowl eight times, the last time in the 1993 season, when the Cowboys beat the Bills in the Georgia Dome. Think that guarantees a classic game? Consider that the greatest Super Bowl — the Giants’ victory over the undefeated Patriots two years ago — featured a No. 1 seed and a wild card.

That is a testament to the parity that the former N.F.L. commissioner Pete Rozelle craved for the league. But the Saints’ shaky performance against the Vikings might have illustrated best why both top seeds rarely advance. The Saints and the Colts were the dominant teams in the regular season, starting 13-0 and 14-0, respectively. But while the Colts passed on a run at perfection, the Saints swooned, a skid that included an alarming loss to Tampa Bay at home in the next-to-last week of the regular season.

“I don’t know the No. 1, 2 or 3 seeds correlates to the best team,” said Brian Billick, whose Ravens team knocked off the top-seeded Tennessee Titans on its way to a Super Bowl title in the 2000 season. “You played best over a 16-game schedule, but that could have to do with your division, with the way you stayed healthy. Minnesota is clearly a better football team, and you know that because with five turnovers they still only lost by 3 points. New Orleans played the best in the regular season, but does being the No. 1 seed mean you are the best team?”

Billick said his Ravens team was not cowed by the Titans’ top seeding because it had beaten them in Tennessee during the regular season. But Billick also discounted the idea that top seeds felt more pressure because opponents were targeting them.

2/22 vs USF (16-10, 9-4)

Probable NCAA Tournament No. 1 Seeds

Selection Sunday is less than three weeks away and only four teams will get the top spot in each region. Over the years we have seen one seeds dominate the tournament, while we have seen others get knocked out before the Final Four. Which teams should play as the one seeds? Here are a few who are in contention for the top spots.

The Wildcats are almost a lock for a one seed, 25-1 on the year, and have played some pretty good teams. Looking at their schedule, it will take a huge slump in the remainder of their schedule, as well as a poor showing at the conference tournament, to give them anything but a top seed. Not much can be said about their one loss. Christian Watford’s three-point buzzer beater should not have happened if the Wildcats’ defense played smart basketball.

Anthony Davis leads the team with 13.9 ppg and Doron Lamb is only .1 behind with 13.8 ppg for the team. Davis is much more accurate though, shooting 65.5% from the floor. Lamb is much better at the free throw stripe shooting 83% on the season. The wildcats also have Marquis Teague to lead them in assists (4.8 apg) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist putting up some good numbers with 7.7 rebounds per game.

The Wildcats are also ranked number one in the nation in both the AP and Coaches polls. Their remaining schedule includes two top-25 teams both on the road with Mississippi State and Florida.

Remaining Games:

2/21 at 23 Mississippi State (19-8, 6-6)

2/25 vs. Vanderbilt (19-8, 8-4)

3/1 vs. Georgia (12-14, 3-9)

3/4 at 12 Florida (21-6, 9-3)

Syracuse Orange

The Orange sit 27-1 on the year and 14-1 in the Big East. Their one loss was an embarrassing 9-point loss at the hands of Notre Dame. They played an overtime game against Georgetown which they scraped away a three point win.

Kris Joseph leads the Orange with 14 points per game. Dion Waiters also puts up 12.2 for second best on the team. Fab Melo is the glue that holds this team together it seems like. Without him the team struggled to get wins. If a team can shut down Melo, and stop their inside play, they can win. The Orange haven’t played a tough schedule and only played four top-25 teams this season, none ranked higher than ninth (Florida, 72-68 win 12/2).

Overall, the Orange should get a one seed unless an early loss in the Big East tournament. Their regular season schedule has only one game against a ranked opponent, at home against Louisville. The Orange won 52-51 at Louisville on Feb. 13.

Remaining Schedule:

2/22 vs USF (16-10, 9-4)

2/25 at Connecticut (16-10, 6-8)

3/3 vs Louisville (21-6, 9-5)

Missouri Tigers

Missouri has played tough all season and sits with only two losses on the season, both road losses (No. 22 Kansas State, and unranked Oklahoma State). The end of their schedule features one ranked team in Kansas. The Tigers beat the Jayhawks, 74-71, at home The rematch takes place at Kansas and will certainly be interesting with the Jayhawks hot on their heels, both in the rankings and in the conference standings. Only one of the two Big 12 teams will get the one seed, and it will probably be whoever wins the conference tournament out of these two teams.

Key Players: Marcus Denmon averages 17.8 points per game. Denmon shoots 89.8 percent from the free throw line and averages 5.2 rebounds per game. Ricardo Ratliffe averages 13.7 points and seven rebounds in just 25 minutes per game. With production like that, the team has a legitimate shot at a one seed.

Remaining Games:

2/21 vs Kansas State(18-8, 7-7)

2/25 at #5 Kansas (12-2, 22-5)

2/29 vs Iowa State (19-8, 9-5)

3/3 at Texas Tech (1-13, 8-18)

Kansas Jayhawks

As I mentioned, only one Big 12 team will get a top seed. I can’t see both teams getting awarded the top spot by the committee. The Jayhawks are fourth in the AP poll and fifth in the Coaches poll. Two of their losses have been to unranked teams. Kansas lost by six to Davidson on Dec. 19 at a neutral site and lost to Iowa State by eight on Jan. 28. Games like those are the only blemishes in their schedule Their other losses are to top ten teams including No. 2 Kentucky, No.6 Duke, and No. 4 Missouri. They did, in fact, beat Ohio State in early December when the Buckeyes were ranked number 2.

Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor lead the Jayhawks with 17.7 and 16.6 ppg respectively, their offense puts up 75 points per game, and is in the top 50 in ppg, rpg, apg and field goal percentage. Both Robinson and Taylor need to step up against Mizzou later this month for them to have a shot at a top spot.

Remaining Schedule:

2/22 at Texas A&M (13-13, 4-10)

2/25 vs No. 3 Missouri (25-2, 12-2)

2/27 at Oklahoma State (13-14, 6-8)

3/3 vs Texas (17-10, 7-7)

Duke Blue Devils

Duke has been a team of winning streaks, and yet, to lose back-to-back games. Of their four losses, two were at home, and two on the road. Three of four losses were to unranked teams (Temple, Florida State and Miami). The Blue Devils were embarrassed by 22 points at Ohio State on Nov. 29. The Blue Devils have to win out in order to get a top spot. Their signature win was a buzzer-beating win at Chapel Hill and UNC, a feat that is almost impossible.

Coach K has put together a team that has a legitimate shot at the Final Four. Austin Rivers leads the team with 15 ppg. Miles and Mason Plumlee average 9.9 and 6.4 rpg respectively. The team has proven it can survive in the toughest of times, and are currently in a three-way tie for first in the ACC with UNC and Florida State at 10-2 in conference.

Remaining Games:

2/23 at No. 21 Florida State (19-7, 10-2)

2/25 vs Virginia Tech (15-12, 4-8)

2/28 at Wake Forest (12-15, 3-10)

3/3 vs. No. 7 UNC (23-4, 10-2)

Michigan State Spartans

Tom Izzo knows how to coach in March. Let’s start with that. Michigan State struggled their last time out against Purdue, down three at the break, but turned on the jets in the second half and came away with a 14-point win at Purdue. The team lost two games that they should have won, at Northwestern and at Illinois. Then again, the Spartans swept Wisconsin, beating the Badgers in OT at the Kohl Center. Looking at their schedule, they’ll have to show up in the Big Ten tournament.

The Spartans are led by 15.2 ppg scorer Draymond Green and Keith Appling putting up 12.2. Derrick Nix averages only 7.7 ppg, but has shown up when the team needed him lately. He can go up and lay it up with either hand, and his jump hook is lethal, left or right handed. The way this team plays, and as deep as this bench is, the Spartans have a shot at a deep run in the big dance.

Remaining Games:

2/22 at Minnesota (17-10, 5-9)

2/25 vs Nebraska (12-13, 4-10)

2/28 at No. 20 Indiana (20-7, 8-7)

3/4 vs No. 6 Ohio State (22-5, 10-4)

North Carolina Tarheels

The Tarheels are second in scoring in the country with 82.8 ppg, and first in rebounding with 46 rpg. They were embarrassed Jan.14 at Florida State losing 90-57. Yes, a 33-point loss for UNC. The team lost at home to Duke, as well and on the road to Kentucky by just a point. If they can distribute the ball well and play some spectacular games in the ACC tournament, then they have a shot at a number one seed.

Harrison Barnes has averaged 18 ppg to lead the Tarheels, and is followed in scoring by Tyler Zeller. Zeller comes from a family of great ball players, his brother Cody is a freshman at Indiana and his older brother Luke was a star at Notre Dame. Tyler Zeller also averages 9.5 rpg, second on the team to John Henson who averages 10.3. They have a tough finish to their season, three of their last four are on the road and include trips to No. 22 Virginia and No. 4 Duke.

Remaining Games:

2/21 at NC State (18-9, 7-5)

2/25 at Virginia (20-6, 7-5)

2/29 vs Maryland (15-11, 5-7)

3/3 at Duke (23-4, 10-2)

Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State is a longshot at this point for a top seed in the NCAA tournament. They lost at home by 10 to Michigan State and on the road by five to the Wolverines of Michigan. They are struggling down the stretch. They do have wins against Duke and Florida, beating both very handily. Down the stretch they will have to turn on the burners and blow out teams in the Big Ten tournament and shut down the Spartans for their shot at glory.

Jared Sullinger averages 17.5 ppg to lead the Buckeyes, and William Buford is second with 15 ppg. Sullinger also leads the Buckeyes with 9.2 rpg and they need both to step up against tough opponents. If they can’t run the table, they won’t win the favor of the committee and a number one seed.

Remaining Schedule:

2/21 vs Illinois (16-11, 5-9)

2/26 vs Wisconsin (20-7, 9-5)

2/29 at Northwestern (16-10, 6-8)

3/4 at No. 8 Michigan State (22-5, 11-3)


There aren’t many teams outside this list that could earn a one seed. Baylor is a longshot, and not many other teams could even be close. If you think I missed a team, or you think you can get all four number one seeds correct, comment with your prediction.

I know I can’t wait for Selection Sunday, how about you?