Who will be the NCAA’s No. 1 overall seed?

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By Spencer Brown

March is just around the corner and that can mean only one thing: NCAA tournament season is upon us.

The debate over tourney teams and seeding is heating up. Just like any other year, there are a ton of storylines to follow.

One debate that receives a lot of attention every year is who should be the No. 1 overall seed and effectively be represented as the best team in college basketball?

A week ago, it looked like Syracuse would be the overall No. 1. Two consecutive losses, a home loss to Boston College and controversial loss to Duke, has seemingly slid them off the top line.

It wasn’t likely that the Orange would have run the table considering both the number of close games they have played and their upcoming schedule. Their struggles scoring the ball are to blame for this assessment. More than anything, the loss to 7-19 Boston College at the Carrier Dome hurts in comparison to the rest of the field.

If they win the ACC regular season title and conference tournament, this could change. It may be too much to ask of Jim Boeheim’s team considering a road game tonight against a tough Maryland team. This is followed by a showdown at Virginia, who is currently 14-1 in ACC play. Not to mention a possible rematch with Duke in the ACC tournament.

Arizona is a candidate for that top line. Since the injury to Brandon Ashley, however, the Wildcats have struggled.

Losses to California and Arizona State tarnish Arizona’s resume, especially because the selection committee places a heavy emphasis on recent play. There are also the narrow escapes against Oregon (67-65 home win) and Utah (67-63 OT road win).

Arizona, like Syracuse, has struggled scoring the basketball. Highly touted freshman Aaron Gordon scored a career-high 23 points against the Buffaloes. In the five previous games, including the game Ashley was injured in against California, he tallied a total of 47 points. If Gordon can consistently score, he may play Arizona back to that No. 1 overall seed.

Wichita State is in heavy consideration as well. The Shockers, a Final Four team from a year ago, are looking to make another run at a national championship. Seemingly fueled by its loss to eventual champion Louisville, Wichita State is currently 29-0.

They have favorable odds to end the regular season undefeated. Wichita State is a heavy favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, as well.

For those questioning if being a mid-major could affect the committee’s decision to give the Shockers the No. 1 overall seed, it isn’t likely. Just ask Gonzaga.

What will likely hold them back is its strength of schedule.

Wichita State defeated one team that is a lock for the tournament, beating St. Louis on Dec. 1. The Shockers have also won over two recently successful teams, which has the possibility of boosting their own resume. Western Kentucky is in a position to win the Sun Belt Conference Championship, which is possibly its only way to gain a berth. BYU is in contention for the West Coast Conference Championship.

If those two teams perform well and make it into the field, Wichita State’s wins against them become that much more impressive. Otherwise, it is not likely they will get the top seed.

That only leaves one team: the Florida Gators.

The Gators have been the most consistent team this season. They have won 19 games in a row. They are undefeated at home. And they are undefeated in conference play, including a road win against a very good Kentucky team. They also have nonconference wins against Memphis and Kansas.

The only two blemishes on its schedule are to two tournament teams. Florida lost a road game at Wisconsin, a tough place to win for any opponent. The other loss was at Connecticut. The Gators’ margin of defeat was a combined seven points.

Florida still has a couple of road games left before a rematch at home against Kentucky, as well as the SEC conference tournament where it will likely see Kentucky again. Though, the Gators are sitting in the driver’s seat, nothing is set in stone.

It’s not even a guarantee that all the teams mentioned will be No. 1 seeds. Kansas has played a tough schedule, and if it wins out, it’ll be in heavy consideration. If Duke was to beat Syracuse again en route to winning the ACC conference tournament, it could sneak back onto that top line.

Only time will tell which team will take the top spot, and there’s plenty of madness in store this season.

Spencer is a senior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected]