Sunday, February 11, 2018
If the 2018 NCAA Tournament began today, the Kansas Jayhawks would be a No. 2 seed in the West region.
That was the message sent by this year's selection committee, which on Sunday revealed the top four seeds in each region, as things stand today, during an afternoon special on CBS Sports.
The Jayhawks were pegged as the second No. 2 seed in the bracket — sixth overall — and were sent to the Los Angeles region, where Purdue resided as the No. 1 seed.
Both teams are among the strongest in the Midwest but were sent west by the committee because of where they fell in the bracket. The Boilermakers were the No. 4 overall seed and the Jayhawks were put with them to balance out the bracket, according to Bruce Rasmussen, who chairs the committee.
Here's a quick look at all of the seeds revealed on Sunday:
1 seeds – Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Purdue
2 seeds – Auburn, Kansas, Cincinnati, Duke
3 seeds – Texas Tech, Michigan State, Clemson, North Carolina
4 seeds – Tennessee, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Arizona
Rasmussen joined host Greg Gumble and analysts Seth Davis and Clark Kellogg in revealing the projected Top 16 teams in this year's NCAA Tournament and the committee held a 90-minute conference call Saturday night to finalize their thoughts one month ahead of the real selection show, which is slated for 5 p.m. on March 11.
“The committee was pretty strong in their consensus of the No. 1 seeds,” Rasmussen said. “But there was a lot of dialogue all the way through the first quadrant because the teams are so close, it's paper thin.”
Davis and Kellogg both whole-heartedly agreed with the No. 1 seeds as they stand today and added that it was hard for them to see anyone cracking into the Top 4 during the next four weeks. They did not, however, say it was impossible.
“The sleeper team to get to the 1 line is Texas Tech,” Davis said, noting their current standing in the Big 12 and potential to pick up another big time win, when they face KU at home on Feb. 24.
“The Red Raiders, to me, are a very interesting group,” added Kellogg. “Because they're older, they're very experienced, they're deep, they defend, they score in different ways. I really think this Texas Tech team is one to really keep an eye on no matter what it looks like a month from now when we reveal the bracket.”
As for Kansas' standing as a No. 2 seed, the Jayhawks currently have nine Quadrant 1 victories — tied with Villanova for the most in the country — and still have an impressive overall resume despite their recent struggles.
“People might say Kansas has six losses, Duke has five losses, but it's not just what happened in the past couple of weeks,” Davis said. “All those wins that those teams racked up in November still matter.”
Sunday marked the second consecutive year that the NCAA Tournament selection committee has provided a sneak peek of sorts into its thinking about the most popular bracket in all of sports.
While none of what was revealed on Sunday is binding in any way, it provides a blueprint for where things stand and gives teams both on the list of 16 and off of it an idea of what needs to be done to either improve or secure their seed the rest of the month.
For Kansas (19-6 overall, 8-4 Big 12), that merely means winning. Whether they win the Big 12 for a 14th consecutive season or not, the Jayhawks appear to be in good shape for at least a 2 or 3 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament provided they can work through their current issues and win four or five of their final six games.
Their first opportunity comes Tuesday night, when the Jayhawks head north to Ames, Iowa, for a showdown with Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum.
After that, the Jayhawks will return to Allen Fieldhouse for arguably their two biggest games of the season — Saturday vs. West Virginia, with ESPN's College Gameday in the house, and Monday, Feb. 19 for a rematch with Trae Young and Oklahoma.
From there, the Jayhawks head to Lubbock, Texas, for that showdown with Texas Tech and close the season at home against Texas on Feb. 26 and at Oklahoma State on March 3.
With three of those games on the road — and wins in all of them going a long way toward helping KU win the Big 12 — the Jayhawks still have as much to play for as anyone out there and can either solidify or improve their seed in the eyes of the committee with a strong finish.
“The amazing stat on the No. 1 line (is) those four teams are 40-8 away from home,” Rasmussen said. “The one major change (from last year) is we do a better job of recognizing wins away from home.”