John Thompson III

Georgetown loses, meaning those four No. 1 seeds are even more wide-open


No. 5 Georgetown entered Wednesday night’s trip to Philly to take on Villanova as the hottest team in the country: 11 straight wins, a streak that saw the Hoyas win at Notre Dame, beat Louisville and Marquette at home, and then go on the road and take care of Cincinnati, Syracuse and UConn in the span of 12 days.

That’s impressive.

It was enough to not only give the Hoyas into sole possession of first place in the Big East, but put them into the conversation for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. There were outlets that had Georgetown as a No. 1 seed as of Wednesday, an idea that came crashing down when the Wildcats knocked off Georgetown, 67-57.

This came just one night after Indiana lost at home to Ohio State. And three days after Michigan State lost their third game in a row. And a week after Duke lost to Virginia and Michigan lost to Penn State and Florida lost to Tennessee.

Put it all together, and here we sit, just 11 days away from Selection Sunday, and we don’t have a single team that has clinched a No. 1 seed.

Not one.

Part of the reason for that is there really aren’t any profiles that can stand up to being a one seed if that team lost their next game, but the other issue is that there is just no way to feel comfortable projecting any team to win out. And I’m not talking about winning their conference tournament, because trying to project who wins the Big Ten or the Big East tournament this season is foolish. It’s a crapshoot.

I’m talking about this week.

Back to my point, the perfect example for how upside-down this season has been is Gonzaga. The Zags are currently No. 1 in both polls by a wide margin — they got a combined 80 of the 96 possible first-place votes — but they are unlikely to end up getting one of those No. 1 seeds.

Think about it like this: everyone except Joe Lunardi has the Zags as a borderline No. 1 seed if the season ended today. That’s great, but the issue is that there is nothing that they can do to add to their profile. Beat Santa Clara? Meh. Get a win over BYU and St. Mary’s in the title game? How much good can a win over a bubble team do?

Now look at Michigan. They may not be a No. 1 seed today, but if they beat Indiana at home tomorrow and then get wins over, hypothetically, Illinois, Michigan State and Indiana on their way to a Big Ten tournament title, they have to be a No. 1 seed, right? What about if Kansas wins at Baylor on Saturday and then knocks off Kansas State in the Big 12 title game? Or what if Georgetown knocks off Syracuse on Saturday and then lands wins over Louisville and Marquette as they make a run in the Big East tournament? And how about if New Mexico, who has the No. 2 RPI in the country and won the second or third toughest league in the country by multiple games, picks up a couple of quality wins en route to the MWC tournament title?

The only certainty? All four No. 1 seeds are going to be determined by who plays well during Championship Week.

Having said that, would anyone be surprised is all four of those leagues had a cinderella make a run to the league title? Does a WCC tournament title earn the Zags a No. 1 seed if every other contender loses next week?

Who knows.

We won’t know for 11 days, and there will be plenty of arguments to be had during that time.

And when Selection Sunday finally does get here and the brackets do come out, I have a feeling that’s when the real No. 1 seed arguments will begin.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?