Advertisement

Seeding is Believing | Purdue keeps proving its No. 1 status

Mar. 7—Men's college basketball and Illini beat writer Scott Richey

projects his top-four seeds for each region of the NCAA tournament. This week? The Boilermakers' supporting cast remains the wild card in its potential tournament success. MIDWEST

1. Purdue (27-3)

* 2. Iowa State (23-6)

* 3. Creighton (22-8)

* 4. Kansas (22-8)

Purdue might be the ultimate "pick your poison" team. The Boilermakers' opponents can either let Zach Edey dominate single coverage in the paint and not let anybody else get going or bring double teams to the 7-foot-4 center and cross their fingers open three-pointers won't fall. Edey is going to Edey. He's averaging 24.1 points for a reason. But if Purdue can get the second-half shooting it got from its supporting cast Tuesday night in Champaign it might finally snap its string of NCAA tournament losses to double-digit seeds.

WEST

* 1. Tennessee (24-6)

* 2. Arizona (23-6)

* 3. Auburn (23-7)

4. Alabama (20-10)

Nate Oats has decided offense is Alabama's best defense. It doesn't always work — see three losses in the last four games, including two where the Crimson Tide gave up 100-plus points — but Alabama can score with the best teams in the country. Nearly half of the Tide's shot attempts are threes, and they're closing in on 1,000 attempts this season. They're also making 37 percent of them with veteran guards Mark Sears and Latrell Wrightsell Jr. both shooting 44 percent on at least five attempts per game.

EAST

* 1. Connecticut (27-3)

2. North Carolina (24-6)

* 3. Baylor (22-8)

* 4. Illinois (22-8)

Armando Bacot basically channeled former Illinois football coach Lovie Smith when the North Carolina big man described Caleb Love's transfer to Arizona as an amicable divorce. Sometimes it's a good thing. It worked out for Love with the Wildcats, and has been just as beneficial in Chapel Hill, N.C. It allowed RJ Davis to make an All-American turn as the No. 1 guy in the Tar Heels' backcourt with regular double-double support from Bacot and Stanford transfer Harrison Ingram.

SOUTH

1. Houston (27-3)

2. Duke (24-6)

3. Marquette (22-8)

4. Kentucky (21-8)

Plenty of good news for Duke this week. The Blue Devils can claim a share of the ACC title if they win Saturday's home game against UNC, and they added to an already loaded 2024 recruiting class Wednesday afternoon. Duke's next crop of freshmen was already ranked as the No. 1 class in the country — thanks to landing No. 1 overall recruit Cooper Flagg — and it simply got better with a commitment from Khaman Maluach. The 7-foot-2 Senegalese center is already being projected as a top five pick in the 2025 NBA draft.