RotoWire Bracketology 1.0: Fighting for No. 1 Seeds

RotoWire Bracketology 1.0: Fighting for No. 1 Seeds

This article is part of our College Basketball Picks series.

For a live-updated bracket throughout the week check out our RotoWire Bracketology page.

It's almost February, which means it's almost March. The college basketball season is halfway through, and there are still a lot of unknowns at the top. Gonzaga is the favorite to win the National Championship (+600) and is probably a lock to get a 1-seed, something no one else can say. The WCC is better than usual this season, but the Zags are still expected to go undefeated in conference play.

Unfortunately, a lot of that is lost in the numbers because as of Thursday (before all these teams played each other), the WCC has four teams in the KenPom top 34 and NET top 36. While that's great, it seems like the rest of the conference is now working the metrics in their favor. St. Mary's (NET 29) doesn't have a win over a NET top-58 team and lost on a neutral court to Wisconsin (NET 19). BYU (NET 28) lost on neutral courts to Creighton (NET 67) and Vanderbilt (NET 90). San Francisco's (NET 36) best wins are against Davidson (NET 46) and UAB (NET 38), while it lost to Grand Canyon (NET 94). Of note, a couple of these teams will probably ride the tails of an Oregon win when the Ducks were playing like a team outside the top 100.

In a month from now, there will be a lot of discussion about Gonzaga's worthiness for the No. 1 overall seed. A lot of media will hype the advanced metrics of the West Coast Conference, but you'll know better. However, that doesn't change the number,s and it almost feels inevitable that Gonzaga will get that top slot. I'm not a Gonzaga hater, but I'm just giving the facts.

As for the other three teams fighting for a No. 1 seed, things are a little less clear. Auburn and Baylor seem most likely to fill two other slots, but unlike Gonzaga, playing in the SEC and Big 12 can result in a loss any given night. In its first game ever as the No. 1 team in the AP Poll, Auburn almost lost at Missouri on Tuesday. Of course, that didn't come without consequence, as the Tigers dropped from No. 5 to No. 8 at KenPom. As long as the Tigers don't get caught up in rankings and play their game, I think they should be set for a No. 1 seed.

I'm not as confident in Baylor, which still has road games at Alabama, Kansas, Texas Tech and Texas. Sure, those would all be Quad 1 losses, but they are losses. Arizona is coming off a loss at UCLA, but it doesn't have to play USC or Oregon away from home, giving it a great chance to run the table. The Wildcats are good, but I'm not sure they are a team I will be picking to go to the Final Four. For now, their best two wins are at Illinois without Andre Curbelo and on a neutral site over Michigan. Plus, playing in the Pac-12 won't result in a ton more elite wins.

THE REST

Those are the four favorites in late-January, but it wouldn't be surprising to see four or five other teams as No. 1 seeds a month from now. Considering Houston only received a No. 2 seed last season, I don't think it'll have a chance this year, especially given injuries and that more losses are expected. I feel similar about Villanova, which already has two conference losses, one being home to Marquette.

Take them out of the equation, and it's Purdue, Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA and Duke as the other teams fighting for 1-seeds. 

Unfortunately for the Boilermakers, I assume they will have more losses. They already fell at Rutgers and have upcoming trips to Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin on the slate. They have the best offense in the country, but their defense ranks No. 66 at KenPom, noticeably worse than any other top team.

No matter what happens between UK and KU on Saturday, I think both still have a chance for a 1-seed. The Wildcats don't have a truly elite win this season, but if they can get some wins while TyTy Washington is hurt, I think they'll have an outside chance. Trips to Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida are all tough, but I think those are all winnable opportunities.

The Jayhawks have to play Baylor twice and if they lose both, a 1-seed doesn't seem likely. However, they still have a lot of chances for big wins with games at Iowa State and Texas ahead. Kansas is struggling defensively right now, something Bill Self teams don't usually do, and I think that aspect of its game will improve over the next month.

Everyone has kind of forgotten about UCLA after its almost month-long COVID-19 pause, but the win against Arizona on Tuesday probably changed that. The Bruins only have two losses and have a chance for a 1-seed. They get Arizona again and then have two more big ones against USC. Sure, wins in all those games probably won't happen, and there aren't a ton of more chances, but going on a winning streak is possible.

The Blue Devils are kind of in that same mold except without any other elite teams on their schedule the rest of the way. Neutral wins against Kentucky and Gonzaga could be enough to bump them to a 1-seed, but only if they keep winning. After they had trouble beating Clemson at home, I'm sure they'll lose two or three over the next 12 games.

No matter what happens over the next month, there is at least more competition for the No. 1 seed than a season ago. That also means there are about 10 teams who could realistically win the National Championship, a far cry from the two-headed race last year.

Metrics prior to games on Thursday, Jan. 27.

RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only College Basketball Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire College Basketball fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adam Zdroik
Adam, a 2019, 2018 and 2017 Finalist for FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year, is RotoWire's soccer editor. He also runs RotoWire's Bracketology, as well as writes on other various college basketball content. He has previously worked at ESPN and Sporting Kansas City, and he is a former Streak for the Cash winner and Michigan State graduate.
DFS College Basketball: National Championship Preview
DFS College Basketball: National Championship Preview
Caesars Sportsbook NY Promo Code: Snag $1100 Bet Insurance for Kansas-UNC NCAA FInal
Caesars Sportsbook NY Promo Code: Snag $1100 Bet Insurance for Kansas-UNC NCAA FInal
BetMGM NY Bonus Code: $200 in Free Bets with NCAA Title Game 3-Pointer
BetMGM NY Bonus Code: $200 in Free Bets with NCAA Title Game 3-Pointer
NCAA Championship Preview: Kansas vs. North Carolina
NCAA Championship Preview: Kansas vs. North Carolina
Caesars Sportsbook Promo Code Scores $200 Free Bet With $20 NCAA Wager
Caesars Sportsbook Promo Code Scores $200 Free Bet With $20 NCAA Wager
CBB Betting: Get $200 Free Bet With $20 NCAA Wager
CBB Betting: Get $200 Free Bet With $20 NCAA Wager