It’s not uncommon for the selection committee to have its bracket drawn up before all the games are over on Sunday. For that reason, and a few others, Michigan could very well have moved up to a No. 1 seed simply by making the Big Ten final.
The Wolverines beat Ohio State 72-69 in the semifinals and will face Michigan State in the final game before the NCAA releases its tournament pairings.
Michigan swept the regular-season series between the in-state rivals. But sure, it’s more than possible Tom Izzo’s team could spring an upset.
Shouldn’t matter. By moving Michigan to a 1 and Villanova — a one-point loser to Seton Hall in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament — to a No. 2, the teams presumably would remain in the same bracket and be seeded to meet in the regional final.
Saturday’s action didn’t change much else on the ‘1’ line: Florida won, and Wichita State hasn’t played since last weekend. Arizona lost to UCLA in the Pac-12 championship, but the Wildcats were No. 1 in the RPI, so their spot would appear secure.
Here’s a Pick Six of how today’s conference finals could AFFEct the brackets:
■ ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE, DUKE VS. VIRGINIA: Duke plays in its 31st conference title game. Virginia is in for the first time since 1994. That ACC title is the real prize here. The winner could end up with a No. 2 seed, while the loser might fall to a 3 or 4. It’s unlikely Duke could move to a top seeding, though Arizona’s loss leaves a sliver of hope. Previous meeting: Duke 69, Virginia 65 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in January.
■ ATLANTIC-10, SAINT JOSEPH’S VS. VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH: Not so long ago, Saint Joseph’s was on the bubble. No longer. The A-10 could get up to six teams in the tournament. Biggest issue here might be whether the result somehow affects the conference’s last bubble team, Dayton.
■ BIG TEN, MICHIGAN STATE VS. MICHIGAN: Michigan hadn’t made the conference final since 1998, and a look through the history books says the Wolverines didn’t even make it then. NCAA violations wiped the appearance from the records. Meanwhile, the Spartans have won consecutive games for the first time since late January. But who would bet against Izzo come March? Michigan State is 3-0 when it plays for the Big Ten title.
■ SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE, FLORIDA VS. KENTUCKY: If there’s any doubt as to whether Florida is the overall No. 1 seed (Wichita State is the other option), the Gators can put it to rest here. Billy Donovan’s team has won 25 straight. As is the case with the Big Ten, this game is a late start (noon), and the seeding decisions may already be locked in. That leaves Florida as 1 or 2 overall and Kentucky somewhere around a 6. Oh, an SEC banner always looks good in the rafters.
■ SUN BELT, GEORGIA STATE VS. LOUISIANA-LAYFAYETTE: Winner-take-all with Georgia State the favorite to dance. The Bulldogs’ two victories over Lafayette this season have been by single digits, though.
■ AND WATCHING NERVOUSLY: Well, none of today’s results really will free up, or take up, an unexpected spot. But just for the sake of conversation, let’s say Southern Methodist (yes, that’s Larry Brown) and Tennessee — a couple of teams with good enough RPIs and resumes — are the most nervous teams on the bubble. The numbers say they should be in. But if either of these teams miss, it’s a sign the committee is using the “eye test” as much or more than the raw statistics. Waiting in the wings: Arkansas, Minnesota.