Bracket Brief: who is really #1?
Another wild week in college basketball is in the books with four of the top five teams taking a loss. Indiana stays in the top spot this week but are they the team to beat? It seems like no one wants to stay at #1. This trend could set the tone for a wide open NCAA Tournament.
There is strength at the top of each power conference but there isn't a dominant team. There are several good teams and even a few mid-major powers that could make a deep run in March. So it's going to come down to a few factors.
The first is who can stay healthy. Duke suffered a blow with the Ryan Kelly injury but they've settled in since and the Blue Devils may even get him back for the tourney. Florida's depth took a hit when Will Yeguete went down with a knee injury that will sideline him for at least a month. Everyone deals with injuries of course but when there's little separation in talent among the top ten teams losing a key player can be devastating, especially in March.
The second factor will be what the brackets look like a month from now. There used to be certain factors that you could bank on come tournament time. Teams with senior leadership always went far. However, nowadays there are few seniors among the ranks of the power six conferences. The bracket busters always played well down the stretch. But in 2011 VCU went 5-6 down the stretch before making their Cinderella run to the Final Four. And playing four games in four days meant certain death in the opening round. Syracuse disproved that in 2009 by playing four in four (including SEVEN overtimes) and then making the Sweet 16. Two years later UConn blew the theory out of the water by playing five games in five days then running the table in the tournament.
So Indiana is #1 but when the brackets are revealed on March 17 will they be the team to beat? Time will tell.