Winning the Big 12 tournament, Bill Self says, would "probably guarantee" his Kansas University basketball team a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
But what if the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks (27-4) fall to the winner of today's Iowa State-Oklahoma game in Friday's 11:30 a.m. quarterfinal in Ford Center in Oklahoma City? Or if they stumble in Saturday's semifinals or Sunday's finals?
Considering KU enters this weekend's play with a No. 15 ranking in the RPI, a loss in Okie City might mean a drop to No. 2 on Selection Sunday.
"There appears to be less clarity at the top this year," NCAA Tournament chairman Gary Walters said Wednesday. "So that could change the seeding (at the top) if someone stubs their toes in the conference tournaments."
The squads vying for No. 1 seeds listed in order of their AP poll rankings are: Ohio State, KU, Wisconsin, UCLA, Memphis and Florida. Texas A&M; and North Carolina also have been listed as possibilities.
Of those schools, UCLA's RPI ranking is 1, followed by OSU (2), UNC (3), Wisconsin (4), Memphis (8), Florida (9), KU (15) and Texas A&M; (16).
"The RPI is a tool, basically a general indicator of strength, but it's not an absolute," Walters said.
The committee also looks at performance in the last 10 games, and the Jayhawks rank highly in that regard with a 9-1 record. OSU is 10-0, UCLA 8-2, UNC 6-4, Wisconsin 7-3, Memphis 10-0, Florida 7-3 and A&M; 8-2.
Against top-50 teams, another important factor, Kansas is just 3-2. UCLA is 9-1, OSU 8-3, UNC 11-4, Wisconsin 7-4, Memphis 1-3, Florida 7-4 and A&M; 2-4.
KU's strength of schedule is No. 65. UNC's is No. 5, UCLA 6, OSU 22, Wisconsin 40, Florida 46, A&M; 53 and Memphis 73.
"I think our nonconference resume is pretty impressive," Self indicated, noting "the numbers don't always add up. People put too much emphasis on RPI. Everybody can skew all the numbers to give their team the best look, but I'd say winning the tournament would guarantee it. Getting to the finals might not be enough, losing in the second round might not be enough, and losing in the first round definitely not enough."
The Jayhawks definitely want a No. 1.
"Just because I think we deserve it," junior Russell Robinson said. "No. 1, because we play hard. We've bounced back from some tough losses, things like that. As far as the NCAA Tournament, it's important."
Important, but KU also will show up next week ready to play, likely in Chicago, even if the Jayhawks drop to a 2 seed.
"Coach tells us that we can't really control how teams are doing. We've just got to try to win out and play and not worry about all the outside things in terms of seeding," sophomore Julian Wright said. "But we know if we can take care of business that everything good will come our way."
¢Travel plans: The Jayhawks were to fly charter to Oklahoma City this afternoon and meet at the team hotel tonight to discuss the scouting report on the winner of today's 11:30 a.m. battle between OU and Iowa State. KU has defeated ISU twice and OU once this season.
KU coach Self certainly isn't complaining about potential game times in OKC. The Jayhawks open at 11:30 a.m. Friday. A semifinal against either Kansas State, Texas Tech or Colorado would be 1 p.m. Saturday with the finals at 2 p.m. Sunday.
"Any time you play at night," Self said,"the game may be over at a certain time, but the game actually is not over until 1 or 2 in the morning. If you play at 9 p.m., what we've done is meet at midnight, have dinner at 12:45 a.m., everybody in your own bed at 2:15 a.m. Then you play in the afternoon the next day. I do think there is an advantage (playing the 11:30 game), not the first day, but the second day."
¢Arthur improving: Darrell Arthur, who was hit by a virus this week, practiced some on Wednesday and spent time after practice shooting free throws.
'"Shady' (Arthur) is feeling better," Self said. "He's still not 100 percent. He was not able to go full speed today. Hopefully he'll go full speed tomorrow."
¢CBE field: Kansas will join Syracuse, Florida and Washington in the 2008 CBE Classic, which starts with games on campus sites and culminates with a Final Four in the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Those four schools each will play host to four-team tournaments over two days, with four survivors advancing to the Final Four at the Sprint Center.
The three teams to come to the fieldhouse will be small to mid-major programs.
Missouri, UCLA, Michigan State and Maryland will be the four major teams competing in the 2007 CBE Classic (College Basketball Experience), set for Nov. 19-20 in the Sprint Center.
Marquette beat Duke, 73-62, in the finals of the 2006 Classic in Kemper Arena. Air Force beat Texas Tech, 57-53, in the consolation contest.
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