Devil’s Advocate: Duke May Still Deserve a #1 Seed

Posted by EMann on March 17th, 2013

Ethan Mann is a writer for the ACC microsite. He can be reached at emann970@gmail.com.

Even taking into consideration that Miami won both the ACC regular season and conference tournaments and the fact that Duke lost on Quarterfinal Friday to a Maryland team that almost certainly will not make the NCAA Tournament, Duke still has a very strong case for a #1 seed despite what many analysts are saying. Yes, Miami, if they do not receive a #1 seed, will become the first team in the history of the ACC not to get a top-line seed after winning both the regular season and the tournament. It might be another story if Miami had knocked off Duke on the way to the ACC title, but defeating a #7-#8 seed North Carolina team in the finals for the third time does little (sans the “conference champion” label) to improve their profile. It seems a bit insane that Duke could be dropped from the overall #1 seed, as many analysts projected after their win against North Carolina last Saturday, all the way to the #2 line based on just this weekend’s results. Duke is ranked #1 in the RPI, has lost only once with Ryan Kelly in the lineup, and has no truly bad losses. At this point, through an objective analysis, the only team to consider as a lock for the top line is Louisville. Since the committee does not consider “regular season championships” or “conference tournament championships” nearly as much (or at all) in comparison to overall body of work, taking a look at all of the contenders for the #1 seeds yields these profiles:

Miami won the ACC Tournament, but did beating North Carolina, rather than Duke, really earn the 'Canes a #1 seed?  (USA Today)

Miami won the ACC Tournament, but did beating North Carolina, rather than Duke, really earn the ‘Canes a #1 seed? (USA Today)

Duke (RPI #1)

  • 27-5 (14-4, 14-5 including tournament)
  • Record against the RPI Top 25:  6-1 (Wins-Louisville [BE Champion], Miami [ACC Champion], Ohio State [potential B1G Champion], North Carolina x2, VCU, Losses-at Miami)
  • Record against the RPI 26-50:  3-1 (Wins-NC State, Minnesota, Temple, Losses-at NC State)
  • Record against the RPI 51-100:  5-3 (Wins-Kentucky, Davidson, Maryland, Florida State, FGCU, Losses-Maryland x2, at Virginia)
  • Record against the RPI 101+:  13-0

Indiana (RPI #8)

  • 27-6 (14-4, 15-5 including tournament), B1G Regular Season Champs
  • Record against the RPI Top 25:  7-2 (Wins-at Ohio State, North Carolina, Michigan x2, Georgetown, Michigan State x2, Losses-Butler, Ohio State)
  • Record against the RPI 26-50:  2-4 (Wins-Minnesota, Illinois, Losses-Wisconsin x2, Minnesota, Illinois)
  • Record against the RPI 51-100:  3-0 (Wins-Iowa x2, North Dakota State)
  • Record against the RPI 101+:  15-0

Kansas (RPI #5)

  • 29-5 (14-4, 17-4 including tournament), Big 12 Regular Season Co-Champs, Big 12 Tournament Champs
  • Record against the RPI Top 25:  6-1 (Wins-St. Louis, Kansas State x3, Belmont, at Ohio State, Losses-Michigan State)
  • Record against the RPI 26-50:  7-2 (Wins-Colorado, Temple, Iowa State x3, Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State, Losses-at Oklahoma, Oklahoma State)
  • Record against the RPI 51-100:  2-1 (Wins-Richmond, Baylor, Losses-at Baylor)
  • Record against the RPI 101+:  14-1 (Loss-at TCU [#237!])

Gonzaga (RPI #7)

  • 30-2 (16-0, 18-0 including tournament), WCC Regular Season and Conference Tournament Champs
  • Record against the RPI Top 25:  1-1 (Win-Kansas State, Loss-at Butler)
  • Record against the RPI 26-50:  5-1 (Win-Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State, St Mary’s x3, Loss-Illinois)
  • Record against the RPI 51-100:  5-0 (Wins-Davidson, Pacific, Baylor, BYU x2)
  • Record against the RPI 101+:  19-0

Miami (RPI #4)

  • 27-6 (15-3, 18-3 including tournament), ACC Regular Season and Conference Tournament Champs
  • Record against the RPI Top 25:  5-2 (Wins-Michigan State, Duke, North Carolina x3, Losses-Arizona, at Duke)
  • Record against the RPI 26-50:  3-0 (Wins-LaSalle, NC State x2)
  • Record against the RPI 51-100:  7-2 (Wins-Detroit, at UMass, Charlotte, Maryland, Florida State x2, Virginia, Losses-at FCGU, Indiana State)
  • Record against the RPI 101+:  12-2 (Losses-at Wake Forest [#170], Georgia Tech [#150])

Taking into account these resumes and ignoring the labels for conference champions — which the committee largely does — Duke’s overall body of work is just as strong as all of the #1 seed contenders. While the loss to Maryland was shocking, I’m not sure it should or will actually cause the Blue Devils to move off one of the top lines as most prognosticators seem to think. Additionally, the resumes of Indiana, Gonzaga, and Miami are not nearly as strong as many pundits would have you believe, especially if you remove these “championship” labels from the overall study. We will see what the selection committee actually decides, but objectively speaking, the analysts seem to be running too much on the “what have you done for me in the last two days” train.

EMann (30 Posts)


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