Advertisement

Seeding is Believing | UNC drops a seed line (and the Illini, too)

Feb. 15—Sign up for our daily basketball newsletter here

Men's college basketball and Illini beat writer Scott Richey projects his top four seeds for each region of the NCAA tournament. This week? Illinois slides to a No. 4 seed.

MIDWEST

1. Purdue (22-2)

2. Iowa State (19-5)

3. Kansas (19-6)

4. Creighton (18-7)

Iowa State was a waived off Milan Momcilovic buzzer-beater away from being on a seven-game winning streak. The Cyclones have had to make do with three straight wins instead, as they hold their own at the top of the Big 12 standings. Not bad for a team that finished .500 in the league a year ago and backed its way into the NCAA tournament. The new 1-2 backcourt punch of Keshon Gilbert and Tamin Lipsey has panned out well for coach T.J. Otzelberger.

WEST

1. Arizona (19-5)

2. Tennessee (17-6)

3. Duke (19-5)

4. Illinois (18-6)

Former Urbana Middle School star Kylan Boswell's shot at a true breakout sophomore year at Arizona has been tempered somewhat by the addition of Caleb Love and the best season of Pelle Larsson's Wildcats career. A strong start gave way to some midseason struggles, but Boswell has averaged 11.6 points, 4.0 assists and 2.4 rebounds as Arizona has won five straight and maintained its hold on the top of the Pac-12 standings.

EAST

1. Connecticut (22-2)

2. North Carolina (19-6)

3. Alabama (17-7)

4. Baylor (18-6)

North Carolina's 86-79 loss on Tuesday night at Syracuse was the Tar Heels' third in their last five games — and all to unranked opponents, no less. So it shouldn't be a surprise to see UNC drop out of the running for a No. 1 seed. The Tar Heels might not even finish first in the ACC. Duke is a half game back (with the Tobacco Road rivalry coming to Durham next month), and Virginia is just one game back despite losing at home Tuesday to Pittsburgh. UNC's best bet to win the ACC and claim a No. 1 seed? Win out.

SOUTH

1. Houston (21-3)

2. Marquette (19-5)

3. Auburn (20-5)

4. South Carolina (21-4)

Houston has a top-15 offense, but, per usual, the Cougars are driven by the No. 1 defense in the country that's giving up just 54.7 points per game. Houston does it all on the defensive end. The Cougars are the best shot blocking team in the country (at least in terms of percentage of available shots blocked) despite playing no one taller than 6-foot-8. They also rank in the top 10 in turnover percentage and both two-point and three-point shooting defense.