At the Watercooler: Debating the 1-seeds

March, 11, 2012
3/11/12
12:15
AM ET
Editor's Note: On the eve of Selection Sunday, ESPN.com writers Eamonn Brennan and Myron Medcalf had a chat about the subject that always seems to stir passions right around this time every year: those four precious 1-seeds.

Eamonn Brennan: Myron, we're so close. So very, very close. There will be plenty of bubble talk in the next 12-24 hours (or is it 11-23; daylight savings always confuses me), but the other biggest debate will surround which four teams deserve the No. 1 seeds. So let's hash this out.

You're committee chair Jeff Hathaway. You have four No. 1 seeds to pass out. Whom do you pick?

Myron Medcalf: What's this daylight savings time you speak of? We can talk about that later. Here's my thing: All season long we've been talking about the Big Ten as the top conference in America. The deepest league. No. 1 via a variety of rankings systems. How can we have four slots without the winner of Michigan State-Ohio State? Put the champ in. So my top four right now are Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina and the winner of Sunday's Big Ten tournament title game. Thoughts?

EB: Touché, sir. That is a difficult argument to find fault with. I will say this: When you compare the résumés on a granular level, you can definitely make an argument for Kansas over Ohio State, even if the Buckeyes win the Big Ten title. And Kansas arguably has a little bit more there than Michigan State, too, though the Spartans look better, and I would have no problem with crowning the Big Ten title winner.

But I will say this: If the Jayhawks were a No. 1 seed before the loss to Baylor, and they aren't now, that might be just a slight overreaction to one game in the conference tournament against a 27-win team. We tend to do that this time of year.

[+] EnlargeTom Izzo
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesThe winner of Sunday's game between Tom Izzo's Michigan State squad and Ohio State should get a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs.
Which is a nice way to segue to my next question: What about Missouri?

MM: I feel like this is one of those years where four schools have strong arguments for that fourth slot. I think you could mix and match Missouri, Kansas, Ohio State and Michigan State. Valid cases for all four schools. Mizzou did everything possible to secure that No. 1 seed by winning the Big 12 tourney. But the Tigers weren't a No. 1 seed entering that tournament.

There was a scenario that could have put them there: a third game against Kansas. Win that and the Tigers would be the fourth No. 1 without a doubt. Not sure a victory over Baylor in the final does it. Not sure the Tigers have a better case than the winner of Sunday's game in the Big Ten tournament. The latter is a perfect scenario for the winner. Missouri won its conference title. But without beating Kansas again, I can't put it in that slot. Still the Big Ten tournament winner for me. But since we're talking about scenarios and possibilities, who are your top four?

EB: At the end of the day, I'm right there with you. I could pretend to believe otherwise, and that would probably make this a more interesting conversation, but I refuse to argue something I don't believe in, so ... sorry, everyone!

To me, the better question is whether that No. 1 seed matters. The guys on "GameDay" discussed this Saturday morning, and they agreed that hey, if you're handing out No. 1 seeds, we'll take one. But for geographic purposes, maybe Missouri is better off as a No. 2 seed, where it could still go to St. Louis, as opposed to getting shipped out west and playing in Phoenix.

And when you compare the two routes each seed has to take, sure, No. 1 is easier -- but the difference is slight. No. 2 is still a pretty gilded path, all things considered.

MM: One of the most overblown discussions in college basketball. The schools that travel will travel. Anywhere. And we know who those schools are. I don't care if you send them to Alaska -- their fans are coming. For me, I could definitely see the advantages of Missouri being a 2-seed as opposed to the fourth 1-seed.

But instead of talk about seeding and paths to the title, let's remember 2011 for a moment. We had an 11-seed take on an 8-seed in the Final Four. I don't know if VCU had thousands of fans at every stop. But they balled. Period. That, at the end of the day, is what matters. You're at a neutral site. It will never feel like home. Every team has to deal with that to some degree, even those that travel well. To me, you're either built for a run or you're not.

But that's why Selection Sunday will be so interesting and intriguing this year. I have so many possible scenarios for the No. 1 and No. 2 slots. And I'm sure the selection committee will be making changes up until the Big Ten tourney game is decided. This is a great time to be a college basketball fan, right?

EB: No question about it. It's the best time.

Here's to the beautiful chaos that is the tournament. Here's to my bracket being worthless by Thursday afternoon. I have no idea what's going to happen -- the seeds don't change that one way or the other. I have come to terms with it, and I'm ready.

MM: Me too.

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