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The Early Lead
Posted at 10:26 AM ET, 03/05/2012

NCAA tournament 2012: Kentucky, Syracuse, Kansas and North Carolina in position to earn top seeds


With a strong performance in the ACC tournament, Harrison Barnes and his North Carolina Tar Heels will be in good position to earn a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed on Selection Sunday. (Streeter Lecka - GETTY IMAGES)
We are now less than one week away from Selection Sunday, so the picture of the NCAA tournament field is beginning to come into view. The Big Ten remains the strongest conference in the country from top to bottom, but the parity at the top of the league could very well cost it a No. 1 seed. After Ohio State beat Michigan State on Sunday, there is a three-way tie atop the standings as Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan all have 13-5 league marks. Wisconsin finished just one game back at 12-6. Here’s a look at the No. 1 NCAA tournament seeds as of Monday:

Kentucky (30-1)

Yeah, really going out on a limb here. This is the best Kentucky team in at least 16 years.

Syracuse (30-1)

Remember, the only loss - against Notre Dame - came with 7-footer Fab Melo out of the lineup.

Kansas (26-5)

After entering the season with lukewarm expectations, Coach Bill Self turned in one of his best coaching jobs. Will the Jayhawks be placed in the St. Louis Region or the Phoenix Region?

North Carolina (27-4)

Don’t start crunching RPI numbers with this team, just open your eyes. The Tar Heels are clearly one of the nation’s four best teams.

As for the tournament bubble, it is soft. Expect to hear that a time or 10 the next several days. A lot of aspiring at-large tournament teams dodged a bullet when Creighton held off Illinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. This bubble watch will change by the day, perhaps by the hour when we get later in this week, but here it is as of Monday:

Last Four Teams In

Northwestern (18-12)

Texas (19-12)

VCU (27-6)

Seton Hall (19-11)


Coach Shaka Smart and VCU may still make the NCAA tournament even if it does not beat Drexel in the CAA tournament final on Monday. (Luis M. Alvarez - AP)

First Four Teams Out

North Carolina State (20-11)

Miami (18-11)

Arizona (21-10)

Tennessee (18-13)

The bottom line: There is room at the bottom of this at-large field if you turn in a strong performance in your respective conference tournament.

More on Washington Post Sports

Maryland coverage at Terrapins Insider

Virginia coverage at Cavaliers Journal

Virginia Tech coverage at Hokies Journal

By  |  10:26 AM ET, 03/05/2012

 
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