What team will earn top overall seed?
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
If Duke wins its four potential remaining games before the NCAA tournament, all of which would be played in North Carolina, the Blue Devils could be the team best positioned to earn the NCAA’s top overall seed.
With four more victories, including three in the ACC tournament, Duke would be able to say on Selection Sunday that it was 21-0 this season with the team that will take the floor in the NCAA tournament. What’s more, that record includes five victories over top-50 RPI teams, including four on a neutral court. No other team would come close to piecing together a more impressive non-conference profile.
Saturday’s return of third-leading scorer Ryan Kelly, who missed 13 games with a foot injury, was a game-changer in this college basketball season. Though Kelly may not again match his career-high of 36 points against Miami, his ability to stretch defenses makes the Blue Devils a strong national title contender in a season with no clear No. 1 team.
“This is the most balance that I can remember,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told USA TODAY Sports in a telephone interview.
The NCAA tournament selection committee places the most emphasis on what a team did with the personnel that will actually be on the floor during the tournament. So whereas Kentucky has to re-prove itself to the committee without standout Nerlens Noel, the 13-game stretch in which Duke played without Kelly (and lost four times) is expected to carry less weight than what the Blue Devils do now with the senior back in the lineup.
The race for the NCAA tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, which can be a more symbolic achievement than anything, is as wide open as it has been all season after Indiana unexpectedly lost its final home game of the season Tuesday night to Ohio State.
The Hoosiers, generally considered the nation’s best team by a slim margin much of the season, squandered a chance to clinch their first outright Big Ten title since 1993. But they will have ample chances to redeem themselves, first Sunday at Michigan and then in Chicago at the Big Ten tournament, where … [For more on What team will earn top overall seed in NCAA tournament?, click here.]