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Seeding is Believing | Kansas trending wrong direction

Feb. 29—Men's college basketball and Illini beat writer Scott Richey projects his top four seeds for each region of the NCAA tournament. This week? Kansas is trending the wrong direction, Kentucky is on the come up and Illinois is holding steady:

MIDWEST

1. Purdue (25-3)

2. Iowa State (22-6)

3. Auburn (21-7)

4. Baylor (20-8)

It wouldn't be the end of the regular season — with the NCAA tournament looming — if there weren't some doubts about Purdue starting to seep into the national college basketball conversation. Zach Edey is still Zach Edey. The frontrunner for national player of the year just put up 35 points and 15 rebounds in the Boilermakers' win at Michigan. But that win was closer than everyone expected it might be. Throw in another close game against Minnesota (at Mackey Arena, no less) and a loss at Ohio State and, well, the doubters start to emerge. Fletcher Loyer averaging five points on 21/17/79 shooting in his last five games only serves to fuel the "Is Purdue going to blow it again?" discussion.

WEST

1. Tennessee (22-6)

2. Arizona (21-6)

3. Duke (22-6)

4. Creighton (21-8)

Let's use this space to discuss court storming. Did Wake Forest fail spectacularly in the aftermath of its upset win against Duke? You bet. Mostly because there were fans on the court with time still on the clock. The Blue Devils, despite all the loud exclamations from the "move quicker" people, had no shot at avoiding collisions like the one between Kyle Filipowski and the Wake Forest student. That said, locking up everyone that storms the court is both an overreaction and simply impossible. Other courts have been stormed without incident, but it would probably behoove every university to have a much more effective plan in place to protect the losing team than Wake Forest's lackluster efforts.

EAST

1. Connecticut (25-3)

2. North Carolina (22-6)

3. Kansas (21-7)

4. Illinois (21-7)

Kansas had a shot at a No. 1 seed when the season started despite Bill Self leaving three scholarships open and rolling with arguably his thinnest team in 21 seasons in Lawrence, Kan. Turns out that might have been a mistake. The Jayhawks haven't lived up to preseason expectations, and their lackluster depth took a serious hit this month with Kevin McCullar Jr. sidelined with a knee injury. An injury that Self hinted might be a season ender for Kansas' leading scorer in the wake of Tuesday night's home loss to BYU. If McCullar is, in fact, unavailable the rest of the season, the Jayhawks will be lucky to hold on to a top four seed.

SOUTH

1. Houston (25-3)

2. Marquette (22-6)

3. Alabama (19-8)

4. Kentucky (20-8)

Three losses in five games spanning the end of January into the second week of February seemed to eliminate Kentucky as an SEC title contender or as any kind of threat to make a NCAA tournament run. The Wildcats' defense was in shambles and three straight home losses was a historic run of futility at Rupp Arena. Tuesday's win at Mississippi State behind a monster night from freshman guard Reed Sheppard marked Kentucky's fourth in its last five games. Talk of defensive improvements might have been premature after giving up 184 total points in the last two games, but they were wins and a potential March run might be back on the table for the Wildcats.