If the NCAA selection were made today, Duke would almost certainly be a No. 2 seed. But I think some commentators have been too quick to dismiss our chances of earning a No. 1 seed.
I know that didn't look likely after our blowout loss at Georgetown, but should a blowout loss to the Hoyas Saturday eliminate Villanova? Look at the presumed No. 1 seeds -- even Kansas is floundering -- in their last three games they've won twice in OT and trailed mediocre Nebraska by four in the second half at home (before pulling away to win). Two weeks ago, Texas looked like a lock No. 1 seed -- now they are in free fall.
I'm not saying Kansas or even Texas won't be a No. 1 seed. And I'm not saying Duke is a favorite to move up a line. I'm just saying the possibility is out there.
Right now, Duke is No. 2 in the Pomery ratings, No. 3 in the RPI and No. 3 in Sagarin. Our SOS is 4-8-5 in the three big computer rankings.
More important -- in terms of predicting seedings -- are the rankings in the AP (tied for 10th) and Coaches polls (9th). While I'm sure we'll move up in Monday's rankings, we won't be in the top five -- not yet.
To vie for a No. 1 seed, Duke obviously will have to finish strong -- maybe a 7-1 record in our final eight regular season games, PLUS an ACC Tournament title. That would be 29-5 ... Tough, but not nearly impossible. And even if we do that, it will still depend a good deal on what other people do -- Kansas and Kentucky (despite their lousy SOS) appear to be pretty solid No. 1s. The schedule appears to favor Syracuse -- after today's game at Cincinnati, they have only Providence and Louisville left on the road.
Certainly today, Georgetown, Villanova and West Virginia would be ahead of us, but they are all in the Big East, so they'll beat each other up. We're in a mix with Michigan State, Texas and Purdue.
This entire situation remainds me of 2005 -- Duke was 18-4 after losing back-to-back games to Maryland and Virginia Tech, but finished 4-1 in the regular season, then won the ACC Tournament, while most of the other contenders faltered in their tournaments ... and Duke got a No. 1 seed.
Not saying it will happen ... only that it's not farfetched.
(I won't go into the scenario that would drop us from our current No. 2 seed to a No. 3 or 4 seed -- but that's a reasonable possibility too).