The selection committee couldn’t avoid giving Wichita State a No. 1 seed after the Shockers became the first team in 23 years to make it to the tournament undefeated.
But the Shockers will have to get through a stacked deck to make a second straight Final Four appearance. If the seeds were to hold up, Wichita State would have to go through Kentucky, Louisville and Michigan to make it to Dallas. Of course the seeds might NOT hold, and they might meet a pushover such as Duke in the regional final.
Did Kentucky deserve a No. 8 seed? Absolutely. And given their inconsistency (insert John Calipari quote here about how young his team is and how their occasionally remarkably bad play at times is not his fault), the Wildcats could lose their first game to Kansas State. But if they do advance, they are athletic enough to make life difficult for Wichita State. The other No. 8 seeds are Memphis, Colorado and Gonzaga — none as dangerous as Kentucky.
And Louisville is a No. 4 seed. Has anyone on the committee been watching any basketball for the last month? Louisville has been destroying opponents. The Cardinals easily could have been the fourth No. 1 seed; at worst, a No. 2. In its opening game, Louisville plays Manhattan, which is coached by Steve Masiello, a former Pitino player and assistant coach. Pure coincidence of course.
Louisville then plays either St. Louis or the N.C. State-Xavier winner, the Wolfpack getting one of the last at-large bids no doubt because Mike Krzyzewski campaigned for them.
Regardless of who wins the Wichita State-Kentucky game, CBS is in Sweet Sixteen heaven because the winner plays Louisville. No doubt the network would love Pitino vs. Calipari — on and off the court.
The bottom half of the draw could produce a Duke-Michigan game in the Sweet 16, another ratings bonanza. Can’t wait for another round of Fab Five stories. Texas could mess that up because Rick Barnes’s team has proven it can play with the big boys this season. If the Longhorns get past Arizona State, they could be a tough out for Michigan.
If you care about what is right and good, root like crazy for Wichita State to come out of this region. But don’t be at all shocked if the winner is Louisville.