How will the NCAA bracket look?
Villanova is in and alive for a chance at its first No. 1 NCAA tournament seed since 2006. Temple yo-yoed from on the bubble entering the American Athletic Conference tournament, to almost surely in the field after beating Memphis, to back on the bubble - but how far back? - with its defeat Saturday at the hands of Southern Methodist in the semifinals.
Villanova is in and alive for a chance at its first No. 1 NCAA tournament seed since 2006.
Temple yo-yoed from on the bubble entering the American Athletic Conference tournament, to almost surely in the field after beating Memphis, to back on the bubble - but how far back? - with its defeat Saturday at the hands of Southern Methodist in the semifinals.
Welcome to Selection Sunday, everyone. The fates of about a couple of dozen teams will be determined this day, with a committee of 10 people sitting in Indianapolis doing the seeding and determining which teams will be paired up in each regional. The task seems more like splitting hairs as it comes down to the last four or five.
All those teams would love to have Villanova's "problem," which is where the committee will send the Wildcats as the No. 1 seed in their regional. Indications are that their fans will be delighted with the East Regional, which will send 'Nova to Pittsburgh first and then, with two wins, on to Syracuse, N.Y. Those cities are the two closest sites to the Main Line.
Kentucky indeed will be the No. 1 overall seed, needing a victory Sunday in the SEC championship game against Arkansas to go 34-0 as it continues to aim for a perfect 40-0 campaign and the first undefeated season since Indiana in 1976. Even with a loss, the Wildcats certainly would stay on the top line.
"In my five years," said Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes, chair of the NCAA Division I men's basketball committee, "this is unique in that there seems to certainly be some separation there between Kentucky and the rest of the field."
Duke and Virginia, two other favorites for a No. 1 seed, both lost Friday night, leading to a disagreement between ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi (Virginia) and CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm (Duke) over which team falls off the top line. Wisconsin is a new No. 1 seed after beating Purdue in Saturday's Big Ten's semifinals, but will the Badgers stay there if they lose to Michigan State in Sunday's final?
By the way, the Big Ten championship game will end minutes before the committee announces its bracket on CBS. Will it make up two brackets to cover either a Wisconsin win or a loss?
At the other end of the bracket, you have Temple and countless other teams that will be among the four teams participating in the play-in games, or getting through to the subregional sites, or sitting at home muttering about their rotten luck.
Barnes and his committee have been placing teams in the field all week to determine the final teams they will consider Sunday.
"As you move forward to the process, you're going to start looking more closely at certainly the full resumé," he said. "But then you'll look more closely at head-to-head competition, common opponents. Then as you're placing folks into the field, you're looking at how those teams have done against the entire field as potential differential pieces to the entire equation."
Temple has been riding its win over Kansas as a reason to be selected since Dec. 22. But that victory and one over Cincinnati are the Owls' only two wins against the RPI top 50 against eight losses.
On the good side, of the Owls' 10 losses, six of them (SMU three times, Duke, Villanova, and Cincinnati) came against teams that will make the NCAA tournament field.
But they lost twice to Tulsa, and the difference between a play-in game and an NIT berth for the Owls may come down to how the committee compares the Golden Hurricane, who lost to Connecticut in the AAC semifinals, to Temple.
The committee also is considering traditional NCAA teams such as Indiana, UCLA, Texas, and Miami for those final spots. The anticipation, anxiety and excitement end shortly after 6 p.m. Sunday.