(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Did the committee get it right with 2018 NCAA tournament No. 1 seeds?


The NCAA tournament selection committee always gets asked about the selection of No. 1 seeds after the bracket is unveiled.

Having a No. 1 seed is an important distinction because it historically guarantees entry into the Round of 32 while also validating a team as one of the four best in college basketball during the season. Although a No. 1 seed doesn’t guarantee a Final Four appearance or a title, it does enhance the chances of a team making a deep run into March. It’s also just fun for a fanbase to say that they are backing a No. 1 seed.

For the 2018 NCAA tournament, there wasn’t a lot of drama surrounding the No. 1 seeds. The committee shouldn’t face a lot of criticism for the top seeds because most of the choices were easily determined for them as the week played out.

With its unbelievable season in the ACC, Virginia was the easy choice as the No. 1 overall seed based on the entire body of work. After winning the ACC by four games in the regular season and also winning the conference tournament title, the Cavaliers were the easiest choice for the committee as they’ll be the No. 1 seed in the South Region. Virginia only has two losses on the season and both came to NCAA tournament teams in West Virginia and Virginia Tech. Now, the Cavaliers just have to shake those past early tournament exits as they try to make a first Final Four run under Tony Bennett.

After winning a 14th consecutive Big 12 regular season title and also winning the league’s conference tournament, Kansas was another easy choice for the committee as a No. 1 seed in the Midwest. The Jayhawks might have had an undersized and undermanned roster that suffered a few uncharacteristic early losses at Phog Allen Fieldhouse this season, but Bill Self’s team righted the ship and is looking very strong heading into the home stretch. Surprising home losses aside, Kansas didn’t have any awful losses as they amassed a large number of quality wins in arguably the toughest top-to-bottom league in the country.

Villanova became the logical selection as the No. 1 seed in the East Region after its strong run in winning the Big East Tournament title. The Wildcats were certainly aided by conference tournament semifinal losses by Xavier and Duke (more on them in a minute) during the week as their strong overall profile helped earn a No. 1 seed. While Villanova’s shaky defense helped contribute to a bad loss against St. John’s, the other three losses for them were all top-50 teams. Jay Wright’s ballclub also amassed an impressive 13 wins against the RPI top-50 during the season — more than Virginia and Kansas.

The fourth No. 1 seed was really the only debate for this year’s committee, and even then, Xavier seemed like the favorite among bracketologists leading up to the final bracket unveiling. Although the Musketeers dropped one to Providence in the Big East Tournament semifinals on Friday, it helped them that Duke also lost in the ACC semifinals and North Carolina lost in the ACC finals. The Musketeers worst loss this season came against Arizona State on a neutral court — who saw that coming at the start of 2018 when the Sun Devils were in the top 10? — as Xavier won the Big East regular season title for the first time. Since Xavier also owns a league title — something Duke or North Carolina is lacking — that also might have helped its case for a No. 1 spot.

As for Duke and North Carolina, you could certainly make a case for the Tobacco Road rivals for a potential No. 1 seed if either had won the ACC Tournament. Both of them ultimately fell short as they’ll have to settle for No. 2 seeds.

The Blue Devils had one fewer top-50 RPI victory and more bad losses than Xavier. Duke had some puzzling road defeats to Boston College and St. John’s that ultimately hurt them. The Tar Heels had a very intriguing case thanks to 11 RPI top-5o wins, but North Carolina couldn’t get over the hump against Virginia for an ACC title. A non-conference home loss to Wofford is the worst loss of any team on this list while the Tar Heels also had more bad losses, in general, than Xavier.

The committee might be criticized for its selection process of bubble teams this year, but they shouldn’t catch a lot of heat for these four No. 1 seeds. Most of the calls were already made for them and the committee didn’t make any outlandish or unexpected changes.

Late run sparks Villanova past West Virginia, into Elite Eight

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

BOSTON — It is always just a matter of time before the avalanche comes.

And when it does, you better hope that lead you have is big enough to withstand what’s coming.

For No. 5-seed West Virginia, it was not. With 11 minutes left on Friday night in Boston’s TD Garden, the Mountaineers led 60-54 and had seemingly wrestled control of the game from the No. 1-seed in the East Region. Less than five minutes later, after the Wildcats hit four of their next five threes, Villanova had taken a 76-66 lead by going on a 22-6 run, and West Virginia was never able to recover.

Jalen Brunson led the way for the top-seeded Wildcats with 27 points and four assists while Omari Spellman finished with 18 points, eight boards and three blocks and Mikal Bridges chipped in with 16 points despite playing relatively poorly — by his standards — on Friday.

With a 90-78 win, Villanova advanced to the Elite Eight and a date with the winner of tonight’s game No. 2 Purdue-No. 3 Texas Tech.

That’s the way that it works with this Villanova team. Armed with the most potent, high-volume three-point shooting attack in college basketball — maybe in the history of college basketball — fans of their opponents are just waiting for the inevitable.

On Friday night, Villanova shot 13-for-24 from three, which is damned-impressive and exactly what we expect at the same time, but the game was won during that five-minute surge when West Virginia just didn’t have an answer.

VIDEO: Omari Spellman, Eric Paschall with mammoth dunks for Villanova

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Villanova took the lead on West Virginia and turned the tide of momentum with a pair of emphatic dunks in transition.

It started with Omari Spellman, who had an unbelievable sequence, spiking a shot into the floor before throwing down a put-back dunk all over a defender:

A couple of possessions later, Eric Paschall finally did the impossible.

He dunked on Sagaba Konate:

I am having way too much fun at this game.

No. 1 Kansas into Elite Eight with win over No. 5 Clemson

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

OMAHA, Neb. — Once Kansas found its stride, Clemson had little chance of keeping pace – even after a late stumble.

The No. 1 Jayhawks ran away from the No. 5 Tigers with a second-half flurry that powered them to a 80-76 victory Friday night at CenturyLink Center to put them in the Elite Eight on Sunday against either Duke or Syracuse.

Kansas moves on to the Midwest Region final on the back of a second-half offense that Clemson had nearly no success in slowing until the final minutes, when the Tigers turned a 20-point laugher into  a six-point nail-biter.

Malik Newman paced Kansas with 17 points while Devonte Graham 16 and Udoka Azubuike 14 and 11 rebounds.

Clemson got 31 points from senior Gabe DeVoe, but there just wasn’t enough help around him for the Tigers to keep things competitive after the Jayhawks hit them with three-consecutive 3s in the opening minutes of the second half to open up a 20-point lead.

Clemson was already hanging on by a threat after it shot just 35.7 percent from the floor and committed eight turnovers. DeVoe’s 12 first-half points kept the Tigers afloat, but they never enjoyed a lead before halftime.

The Jayhawks, meanwhile, had five players  score at least six points in the first half, including 10 from Azubuike, Their usual strengths – 3-point shooting (4 of 13) and Devonte Graham (1 of 7) – were absent in the first half, but Clemson was unable to take advantage as Kansas continued to get quality looks inside and stops on defense.

The Jayhawks previously played Syracuse in December, beating the Orange by 16 on a neutral floor in Miami. They haven’t faced the Blue Devils, though they have already shared a building with them once this year in the Champion’s Classic. Kansas topped Kentucky, 65-61, while Duke defeated Michigan State, 88-81, that November night in Chicago.

VIDEO: Mikal Bridges tries to dunk on Sagaba Konate, gets denied

Screengrab via @CBSSports
Leave a comment

There really is nothing better in this world than seeing someone who is typically a great dunker take flight to try and dunk on Sagaba Konate of West Virginia, because it never, EVER ends well for the dunker.

See: Bridges, Mikal:

Auburn AD Greene gives Bruce Pearl a vote of confidence

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Speaking publicly for the first time about head coach Bruce Pearl, new Auburn athletic director gave his embattled head coach a vote of confidence.

Greene was on an in-house podcast produced with the voice of Auburn sports, and was asked about Pearl’s standing in a pod that lasted less than five minutes and felt more like a press release than anything else.

“He’s been a tremendous blessing for the Auburn family,” Greene said. “The FBI investigation is a long process. We’re going through that process to make sure that we, as a university, are doing what it is that we’re supposed to do to comply. Coach Pearl has been excellent in that regard and I look forward to continuing to work with him as we continue to do the very best to support he, his staff and the student athletes of Auburn University.”

This is the first time since former assistant coach Chuck Person was arrested that a member of the Auburn athletic department had spoken so positively about Pearl. In the fall, Auburn’s president Steven Leath lamented Pearl’s lack of cooperation in the investigation, but just last week released a statement saying Pearl is “working with university officials as part of our due diligence.” Pearl said after his team’s 84-53 loss to Clemson in the second round of the NCAA tournament that he would like to return.

There has been speculation that Pearl’s job was in jeopardy ever since Auburn was mixed up in the FBI’s complaint. Two players were forced to sit out this entire season after the FBI alleged they had received money funneled through Person from a runner for an agent and a financial advisor.

“One of the challenges that we have facing the industry is college basketball,” Greene said. “We want to make sure we work incredibly hard to clean up the game, to make it as pure as it can possibly be so that our student-athletes can enjoy the intercollegiate athletic experience. one of the things that we have to keep in mind is that the state of college basketball is not in a good place right now and I’m a little bit disappointed that auburn is involved in that, but that doesn’t take away from the excellent job that Coach Pearl has done.”