Kansas State lost handily 82-65 at Kansas last night, yet ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi awards the Wildcats with one of the four coveted No. 1 seed spots.
Considering Duke’s 79-72 loss at Maryland, Lunardi cites what he calls the “Duke/Robbie Hummel factor.” What does that mean? I have no idea. I don’t have an ESPN Insider account so I can’t read the rest of the story.
The strength of the Big 12 is likely driving this debate. I’m not sure what Robbie Hummel has to do with it, because that only affects Purdue not getting a No. 1 seed, and not whether Kansas State or Duke are deserving of it.
Since both Duke and Kansas State lost tough road games to ranked opponents, which deserves a No. 1 seed at this point?
Let’s breakdown both teams.
Duke is 25-5 overall, and 12-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Blue Devils are tied with Maryland for first place in the ACC. Duke has four “quality wins” in the RPI against Clemson (twice), at home versus Maryland and Wake Forest.
Duke has five true road wins in 10 tries this season.
Duke and Maryland are the only two teams in the top 25 and the ACC is ranked No. 3 in the RPI.
Kansas State is 24-5 overall, and 11-4 in the Big 12, the top-ranked conference in the RPI. Six Big 12 teams are in the RPI top 30. Kansas State has won four “quality wins” against Xavier, Texas and Texas A&M at home and Baylor on the road.
The Wildcats are 7-2 in true road games this season.
Duke is No. 3 and Kansas State No. 5 in the Sagarin computer ratings. Duke’s strength of schedule is No. 3 in that list behind K-State’s No. 11.
With Duke playing in the ACC I find that schedule rating hard to believe, because the Blue Devils played seven teams in its pre-conference slate ranked worse than 120 in the RPI.
Both teams have similar resumes, although K-State has a better road record. But I think the edge goes to Kansas State because it plays in a tougher conference.
One thing all of these late season road losses by top 5 teams tells me: the NCAA Tournament is wide open for those five teams.
I could easily see Kansas, Kentucky or Syracuse cutting down the nets in April. Duke and Kansas State aren’t far behind, but I question the Blue Devils' lack of depth. And the Wildcats’ inability to beat its in-state Jayhawks, which could be the only team standing between K-State and a national title.
Good thing there’s a big dance to sort it all out.
Follow Derek on Twitter: @derekpoore
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