BOZICH | NCAA seed report for UK (1 overall), U of L (3), IU (6), WKU (?)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The top spot in the college basketball polls carries the conversation until mid-March. Then what matters is being first on the seeding list of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.
Kentucky is that team – and will remain that team unless John Calipari and his players are attacked by Katy Perry's Shark pack.
If everything goes according to plan, the unbeaten Wildcats can return to Lexington with their ninth NCAA trophy on about five tanks of gas. They won't have to change time zones.
Their journey will begin with a 155.36-mile round trip from the Craft Center to the KFC Yum! Center for their first two NCAA Tournament games in Louisville.
That will be followed by rolling 663.1 miles to the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland and back for the Midwest Regional.
(OK, truth is, they'll fly. But the place will be packed with UK fans who have already started lining up outside the building. This tournament will be about as fan friendly as Big Blue Madness for Kentucky.)
The conclusion will be written at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, which is parked at 189.17 comfortable miles from where the Wildcats practice.
Final odometer reading?
A tidy 1,196.8 miles.
The website DistanceOnLine.com calculates the fuel cost for those three round-trips at $141.90.
How does this compare to the other top contenders for the national title?
Glad you asked. I ran the numbers on seven other teams likely to fill the top two seed lines in the four regionals, which will be played in Syracuse, N.Y., Cleveland, Houston and Los Angeles this season.
Here is how they rank in fan-friendly miles (best-case scenario for each team):
1. Kentucky (Louisville, Cleveland, Indy) – 1,197 miles round trip.
2. Villanova (Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Indy) – 2,402 miles.
3. Wisconsin (Omaha, Cleveland, Indy) – 2,514 miles.
4. Duke (Charlotte, Cleveland, Indy) – 2,588 miles.
5. Virginia (Charlotte, Syracuse, Indy) – 2,646 miles.
6. Kansas (Omaha, Houston, Indy) – 2,976 miles.
7. Gonzaga (Seattle, Los Angeles, Indy) – 6,898 miles.
8. Arizona (Portland, L.A., Indy) – 7,242 miles.
Earning the overall top seed for the NCAA Tournament should have value – and for Kentucky it will.
What's the forecast for the other teams in the area?
Louisville's victory over North Carolina Saturday pushed Rick Pitino's team solidly into the scrum for a three-seed.
In fact, CrashingTheDance.com, one of four bracket projections that I follow, listed the Cards as the top three-seed today in the aftermath of Carolina's second-half meltdown against Virginia in Chapel Hill Monday night.
Best travel scenario for Louisville?
They could open the tournament in Columbus, Ohio. Cleveland is the most accessible stop for regional weekend, but Kentucky would be waiting in Cleveland. And three-seeds don't receive many breaks in the bracket.
Three of the four projections have Indiana listed as a six seed. BracketMatrix says seven.
The Hoosiers have valuable non-conference victories against Butler, SMU and Pittsburgh. They've also won six Big Ten games. They'll make the tournament if they can win four more league games, but they'll likely have to finish 11-7 in the Big Ten to keep that six seed.
Western Kentucky fans should send a box of chocolates to Jerry Palm. He placed the Hilltoppers in his latest bracket as a 12-seed.
Ray Harper's team did not make the cut with Lunardi, CrashingTheDance and BracketMatrix. WKU needs to work on its computer power rankings. That means the Hilltoppers cannot afford any ugly losses in Conference USA, which is currently projecting to be a one-bid league.
WKU is ranked 108 by Ken Pomeroy, 123 in Jeff Sagarin Predictor and 73 in the Ratings Percentage Index. It's difficult to project an at-large bid unless the Hilltoppers can bump those numbers into the 50s – or better.
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