Ranking this week's nine losses by top 10 teams, from worst to most understandable

John Calipari and No. 4 Kentucky suffered two losses this week, though one was more understandable than the other. (Getty)
John Calipari and No. 4 Kentucky suffered two losses this week, though one was more understandable than the other. (Getty)

Selection Sunday is exactly six weeks away. The end of the college basketball season creeps up on us every year, but still, the bracket reveal seems scarily soon.

It’s especially scary after a week of chaos at the head of the AP poll that left only three top 10 teams unscathed, and dealt nine losses to the other seven teams combined. The upsets began on Tuesday, and continued throughout the week.

Some, though, were much more damaging than others. With the race for the four 1-seeds and four 2-seeds in mind, here’s a look at the nine losses by top 10 teams ordered from worst to most understandable:

1. No. 10 Oregon at Colorado

The Rocky Mountain road trip is a grueling, two-games-in-three-nights slog, and a loss on the second leg of it is by no means unforgivable. In fact, much of the disappointment of Saturday is offset by the impressiveness of Thursday’s hard-fought win at Utah. But six weeks from now, the selection committee won’t see that nearly to the extent that we see it now. The reality is that Colorado is bad — really bad. Its only other Pac-12 win had come two days prior over a hapless Oregon State team. If Oregon wants a 1-seed, or even a 2-seed, it probably needs a share of the Pac-12 regular season crown, and this is the type of game, therefore, that it can’t afford to lose.

2. No. 4 Kentucky at Tennessee

Of the nine games that saw top 10 teams fall, the betting line (UK -9.5) in this one was tied for the biggest. That doesn’t mean it’s the worst; it was reasonable to expect Kentucky to lose at least once on the road to an inferior SEC team, of which there are many. But for 1-seed purposes, it was only acceptable as long as Kentucky took its chances for quality wins against fellow top 25 teams too. As you’ll see further down this list, that didn’t happen, and thus the loss in Knoxville significantly inhibits Kentucky’s bid for the top line.

3. No. 6 Florida State at Georgia Tech
4. No. 6 Florida State at Syracuse

Both of Florida State’s losses might as well be coupled together, because one affects the way we view the other. The Georgia Tech debacle on its own could have been written off as a fluke after the Seminoles won five of the six games against ranked teams that preceded it. But after following it up with a loss at Syracuse? Now both stand as evidence that the Seminoles haven’t reached that elite tier that those five wins suggested they had. Neither loss on its own damages Florida State’s résumé beyond repair, but its résumé now looks like that of a 3-seed, not a 1- or 2-seed — whereas prior to the week the Seminoles looked to have a real shot at the top line.

5. No. 8 UCLA at USC

UCLA’s rather flimsy résumé was one of the best-kept secrets of the season’s first two months. The Bruins won at Kentucky, and… well, that was really their only win over a team that’s comfortably in the field of 68 at the moment. And after losses to Arizona last week and USC this week, it still is. What’s even more troubling is that UCLA only has three more opportunities for wins over NCAA tournament teams before postseason play begins. After the loss to the Trojans, UCLA might have to win out to have any shot at a 1-seed. Right now, it looks like a solid 3-seed.

6. No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 2 Kansas

The résumé of a top seed has to either be littered with quality wins or devoid of bad losses — or both. Kentucky’s is now neither. Kansas is the best opponent on this list of losses, but Kentucky was favored by 7 when it welcomed the Jayhawks to Rupp Arena, meaning Saturday was a massive opportunity for a quality win. That’s something Kentucky only has one of right now, and with the loss to Kansas, Kentucky is now 2-4 against the KenPom top 40. That doesn’t sound like 1-seed material.

7. No. 9 North Carolina at Miami

The Tar Heels can afford this type of loss more than most top 10 squads. Miami is a good team, and should eventually be a comfortable tournament team. North Carolina was on the road. And, most importantly of all, Roy Williams’ team had just gone on a seven-game tear that included plenty of wins over teams similar to Miami. In the ACC, wins like those don’t come easy. As long as the Tar Heels beat a few of the ACC’s heavyweights over the latter half of their backloaded ACC schedule, falling on the road at Miami won’t be a sizable scar.

8. No. 1 Villanova at Marquette

The Wildcats followed up a road loss to a tournament team with a win over a soon-to-be top 10 foe. On aggregate, that’s a successful week. Villanova will likely fall from the top of the rankings, but won’t fall from the top seed line because of its defeat in Milwaukee.

9. No. 2 Kansas at No. 18 West Virginia

The only game in which the top 10 team that lost was an underdog. A win would have been nice, of course, but coming up short in Morgantown won’t harm Kansas that much, if at all.