No. 1 overall seed or not, Kansas clearly has earned top spot in the Midwest region
Say what you want about Bracketology and the various NCAA Tournament projections that make the rounds each year, but this one should be easy.
With a win Saturday at Texas — no small feat — the Kansas Jayhawks absolutely should be this year’s No. 1 overall seed and should be placed in the Midwest region.
A strong argument could be made for that being the case win or lose this weekend, but a win at UT certainly would solidify it.
I say that without so much as a hint of homerism and with the strong belief that Houston, despite its schedule, is without question one of the most talented teams in the country and capable of beating anyone.
It’s just that the Cougars’ resumé can’t hold a candle to the one that Kansas has put together. I do like Alabama’s resumé better than Houston’s, but it looks to me like Bama still has at least one more loss coming. And then there’s that whole mess surrounding the Brandon Miller situation.
You can’t really punish a program for the off-the-court circus by hitting them in the brackets. But if you did it in a subtle manner, would anyone really notice? Or argue? I mean, a true hit would be seeding Nate Oats’ squad second or third instead of first. That won’t happen. But making them the fourth No. 1 seed and sending them out west? Who’s going to whine about that?
That brings us back to Houston and Kansas. Here are the specifics of that comparison:
Houston 27-2, Kansas 25-5
Houston 1st, Kansas 6th
Houston 1st, Kansas 7th
Here’s where it starts to get interesting:
Strength of Schedule (per KenPom)
Houston 102nd, Kansas 1st
Quad 1 wins
Houston 4, Kansas 15 (and counting)
Quad 1 games
Houston 5, Kansas 20 (and counting)
Best non-conference wins
Houston – at Virginia and vs. St. Mary’s
Kansas – vs. Duke and at Kentucky
Best conference wins
Houston – at UCF, at Cincinnati, vs. Memphis, vs. UCF
Kansas – vs. Texas, vs. Baylor, vs. K-State, at TCU
Houston – vs. Temple (No. 114 KenPom)
Kansas – at Iowa State (No. 26 KenPom)
Houston – vs. Alabama (No. 3 KenPom)
Kansas – vs. Tennessee (No. 4 KenPom)
As if that doesn’t scream imbalance — and this is not Houston’s fault, by the way — the Cougars have played as many Quad 4 games (10) as Kansas has played Quad 2, 3 and 4 games combined.
The Jayhawks are also poised to set the record for Quad 1 wins in a single season. They’re already six Quad 1 wins up on Alabama (15-9) and they have more Quad 1 wins by themselves than Houston and Purdue combined (13).
UCLA has six Quad 1 wins to date. And Texas, which is the only other team in my opinion that can make a case for a No. 1 seed this month, has 10.
And, oh by the way, KU now has won seven in a row in Big 12 play. You know Big 12 play — by far the best conference, top to bottom, that the country has seen in the last couple of decades. While other teams at the top have started to fade, Kansas just keeps winning, finding a way against some of the toughest competition in the country.
Don’t get me wrong, the Cougars are super talented and have an absolute star in Marcus Sasser while also being led by one of the best coaches in the game in Kelvin Sampson. They’re deserving of a No. 1 seed and are a real threat to win it all. But their road should not be paved at the expense of a program that’s earned a better path for itself the way Kansas has.
For my money, it’s Kansas in the Midwest, Houston in the South (to Louisville) at the top of the bracket, and then let the chips fall where they may from there.
It’s worth noting that Louisville’s YUM Center (site of the South regional) is 953 miles from Houston’s campus and KC’s T-Mobile Center is 796 miles away. That’s not that big of a difference.
For what it’s worth, ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi has updated his bracket to put Kansas in the Midwest.
If Purdue holds onto a No. 1 seed, they can go east. If UCLA snags a 1 seed, they can stay west and let Alabama go to the east. The options are many.
There’s just no reason for anyone else in the bracket to be put in the Midwest region. The Jayhawks have earned that. All they can do from here is make it even more obvious.