Krzyzewski to his Duke team at half: 'Take the pianos off your back. Just play.'

The Blue Devils lead by Marvin Bagley III respond and defeat North Carolina on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
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The Blue Devils lead by Marvin Bagley III respond and defeat North Carolina on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.


Duke or Kansas? Which team has the best shot at being an NCAA No. 1 seed?

By Jonathan M. Alexander

March 07, 2018 07:53 PM

If Selection Sunday were today, Duke would likely be a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, according to Joe Lunardi's Bracketology.

Kansas would have been a No. 1 seed.

The fifth-ranked Blue Devils finished the regular season 25-6 and 13-5 in the ACC, which was second in the conference standings behind No. 1 Virginia.

So does Duke still have a shot at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament?

It appears so.

No. 5 Duke is No. 4 in RPI rankings. RPI (ratings percentage index) is a quantity used to measure sports teams based on their wins, losses and strength of schedule.

No. 1 Virginia (28-2) seems like a lock for the No. 1 seed no matter what happens in the conference tournament, with wins over every team in the ACC. No. 2 Villanova (27-4) does too, especially after beating No. 3 Xavier twice.

Many bracketology experts are also predicting Xavier to be a No. 1 seed after finishing in first place in the Big East and a 27-4 record. Two of its loses were against Villanova.

So if Virginia, Villanova and Xavier are all No. 1 seeds, the last No. 1 seed spot would still be up for grabs.

There are two likely teams that could get that last spot - Kansas and Duke.

Michigan State would have been on that list had it made it to the Big Ten final. It lost to Michigan 75-64 on March 3 in the semifinals. Purdue was also a possibility, but it lost to Michigan on March 4 in the Big Ten finals, and don't seem to have enough wins against the top teams.

Kansas and Duke have not played in their conference tournaments yet. For either team to be a No. 1 seed, they will have to go to at least the conference finals of their respective tournaments.

The NCAA Selection Committee has a new process when selecting teams for the tournament. The committee is using different RPI standards that will give a more accurate depiction of a teams' wins based on where the game was played.

For instance, Quadrant 1 wins include home games against RPI teams in the top 30, neutral site games against teams in the top 50 and away games against teams in the top 75.

Quadrant 2 wins include home games versus RPI teams 31 to 75, neutral site versus teams 51-100 and away games versus teams 76-125.

Quadrant 3 wins include home games against RPI teams 76 to 160, neutral site games against teams 101-200 and away games against teams 136-240.

So let's compare Kansas' and Duke's resumes.


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The Big 12 was pretty strong this season. Nine of the 10 teams finished with records of 18-13 or better. Kansas finished first in the Big 12 this season with a 13-5 conference record and 24-7 record overall.

RPI: 6

Kenpom ranking: 12

Quadrant 1 record: 8-2

Quadrant 2 record: 12-4

Quadrant 3 record: 4-1

Its best wins were on a neutral court against Kentucky (RPI 17), at home against TCU (19), at home against West Virginia (31) and on the road against Texas Tech (24).

But Kansas also has some bad losses. Those losses include Washington (58) at home, Arizona State (51) at home, and Oklahoma State (87) at home. It also lost on the road to Oklahoma State and Baylor (59).

Kansas' first game in the Big 12 tournament is Thursday.


Dukes Marvin Bagley III (35) reacts after a basket in the second half against North Carolina on March 3, 2018 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham.
Robert Willett

The ACC is considered the best conference in the country and that would be in Duke's favor come NCAA seeding time. If the Blue Devils were to win the ACC tournament, it would seem likely that they could be a No. 1 seed. Duke finished with a 13-5 conference record.

RPI: 4

Kenpom ranking: 3

Quadrant 1 record: 6-4

Quadrant 2 record: 9-2

Quadrant 3 record: 10-0

Duke's best wins came against Michigan State (RPI 15) on a neutral court, UNC (5) at home, at Clemson (11), and at Miami (25). Its bad losses came on the road, at Boston College (97) and St. John's (88).

Duke's first game in the ACC tournament is on Thursday in the quarterfinals.

Alexander, 919-829-4822; Twitter: @jonmalexander