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The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Many have chance for No. 1 seed in West

Courtesy+of+Chris+Ayers+%2F+The+Daily+Utah+ChronicleArizona+forward+Rondae+Hollis-Jefferson+%2823%29+attempts+to+dunk+during+Arizonas+63-57+win+against+Utah+at+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City%2C+Utah%2C+on+Saturday.+The+Wildcats+are+one+of+many+teams+now+competing+for+the+No.+1+seed+in+the+West+after+Gonzaga+lost+to+BYU+on+Saturday.
Chris Ayers

Courtesy of Chris Ayers / The Daily Utah Chronicle

Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (23) attempts to dunk during Arizona’s 63-57 win against Utah at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Saturday. The Wildcats are one of many teams now competing for the No. 1 seed in the West after Gonzaga lost to BYU on Saturday.

An opportunity opened for a team to grab one of the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament when Gonzaga lost 73-70 to BYU on Saturday night. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi had Gonzaga firmly in line for the No. 1 seed in the West region but changed his mind after the Zags lost.

Lunardi moved up Villanova from the No. 2 seed in the East region to the No. 1 seed in the West region. Meanwhile, instead of moving up, Arizona stayed as the No. 2 seed in the West after defeating Utah 63-57 on Saturday night.

Arizona has names such as T.J. McConnell, Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Villanova is a bit more unknown, with Darrun Hilliard II and Ryan Arcidiacono leading the way.

The two team’s resumes are so similar, Lunardi could easily go either way.

Villanova has neutral court wins over VCU and Michigan, home wins over Syracuse, Georgetown, Butler, Xavier and Providence, and road wins over St. Johns, Butler and Xavier. One of those teams was ranked in the top 15, with six total teams being ranked in the top 25.

Arizona has a neutral court win over San Diego State, home wins over Gonzaga, Michigan, Utah, Oregon and UCLA, and road wins over Oregon, Stanford and Utah. Four of those teams were ranked in the top 15, with two of those teams ranked in the top 8.

Kenpom.com has Arizona at No. 2 in the nation and Villanova No. 4 in the nation. ESPN has Arizona at No. 5 in the nation in BPI and Villanova at No. 6 in the nation.

One big difference between the two teams is that Arizona started the preseason ranked No. 2 in the nation, and Villanova started at No. 12. Essentially, this means people were higher on Arizona at the beginning of the season.

Arizona fans will put the numbers together and say the UA should be the No. 1 seed in the West . In reality, Arizona’s losses are looking better than Villanova’s — but not by much. ASU and Oregon State have climbed into the RPI top 100 at 82 and 97, respectively, and UNLV is ranked 89th in the RPI.

Villanova has two losses, both of which came to teams ranked higher in the RPI than Arizona’s losses. Seton Hall is at 70, while Georgetown is 24th.

So, when Lunardi puts Villanova above Arizona, fans should see the reasoning behind this and come to terms with it, knowing full well how much can change before the regular season is over.

Of course, this is before even considering teams such as Wisconsin, Kansas and Gonzaga, all of which are firmly in the No. 1-seed discussion.

As March kicks off, it’s clear that the madness is on its way.

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Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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