March Madness 2010: Purdue, Villanova Amongst Top Seeds Likely To Stumble Early by Tyler Lambert Tyler Lambert
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Written on March 03, 2010 Andy Lyons/Getty Images The 2009-2010 college basketball regular season has almost come to a close, each individual conference tournament is just around the corner, and the NCAA Tournament is just a couple of weeks away. Can anyone say March Madness?
Heavyweights Kansas and Kentucky, who were each ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively for most of the year, each lost on the road last weekend to shake up the Associated Press and ESPN/Coaches Poll this week.
A talented Purdue team lost one of their top players, Robbie Hummel, for the remainder of the season, and a home loss to Michigan State this past weekend has the Boilermakers looking more and more like a team ready to free-fall.
Syracuse, on the other hand, took advantage of the chaotic weekend by the nation's top three teams and asserted themselves as a National Championship contender with a blow-out win against then-No. 8 Villanova in a packed Carrier Dome.
The win against their Big East foe catapulted the Orange to the top spot in the AP Poll this past week, and has Coach Jim Boeheim's team looking ever more confident each time they step out on the hardwood.
Duke is another team that has taken advantage of a weekend filled with upsets by climbing to No. 4 in the current polls. The Blue Devils have won seven straight contests heading into their big ACC matchup with Maryland, and will look to keep their hot streak alive by beating the Terrapins on the road in a hostile environment.
No. 5 Kansas State, No. 6 Ohio State (Led by Evan Turner, a front-runner for the NCAA Player of the Year Award), No. 7 Purdue, No. 8 New Mexico (a very talented but underrated squad out of the Mountain West Conference), No. 9 Villanova, and No. 10 West Virginia round out the Top 10 of the AP Poll.
In the latest Bracketology by ESPN's Joe Lunardi, Syracuse is the No. 1 overall seed for the tournament. Kansas, Kentucky, and Duke join the Orange as the other No. 1 seeds, followed by No. 2 seeds New Mexico, Purdue, Villanova and Kansas State.
West Virginia, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt round out the No. 3 seeds, followed by No. 4 seeds Tennessee (Who just recently took out Kentucky), Michigan State, Temple and BYU.
Every March, several unsuspecting teams from Mid-Majors rise up to the challenge in defeating one of the top seeded teams in the bracket. What teams will rise up to that challenge this year, and which of the top seeds would seem to be likely candidates to lose before the second week?
Top-Seeded Teams That Should Hold Their Own In The Early Rounds
This point of the season in college basketball is one of the greatest in all of sports: Legendary programs with talented players cannot afford to lose their focus, because in a matter of minutes, their season could be over.
In retrospect, teams that have struggled throughout the year but made one last push to make it into the "Field of 64" can give top-seeded teams trouble. They may have thought their season would have ended prematurely, but if given a second chance, they will give any team they play all they can handle.
At this point in the year, several teams have made their claim as the top team in the country. None of that matters, however, when the tournament begins. Seven wins is what it takes to prove you're the best, but which teams have the best shot at completing that task?
Upsets, game-winners, and late-game rallies will all occur in the course of two weeks, but for this select list of teams, they have proven that they have what it takes to make it to the second week in the tournament.
Top Seeds Belonging To This Category: Syracuse, Kansas, Duke, Kansas State and New Mexico.
Top-Seeded Teams That Have Tricky First And Second Round Contests
You may have wondered why Kentucky was not on the previous list. Led by National Freshman of the Year John Wall, the highly-talented DeMarcus Cousins and Coach John Calipari, what's not to like?
If the brackets came out today and Joe Lunardi had correctly predicted the Wildcat's road to the championship game, several tricky matchups could have the Kentucky fans singing the "Blues" earlier than anyone had anticipated.
Another tough contest for a top seed would be a possible West Virginia-Virginia Tech showdown in the second round. Virginia Tech, led by the ACC's leading scorer Malcolm Delaney, can compete against anyone in the field when they play at a high level on both the offensive and defensive side.
Michigan State, last year's NCAA Championship runner-up, could potentially meet the Hoyas of Georgetown in the second round. Tennessee could face Matt Bouldin and Gonzaga in a highly-anticipated matchup in the same round, and Vanderbilt-Maryland could face-off as well.
Top Seeds Belonging To This Category: Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ohio State, Temple, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Michigan State.
Top-Seeded Teams Most Likely To Stumble Early On
During this past week, not much went right for the Purdue Boilermakers. Not only did they lose one of their top players to injury, but they also lost at home to Big Ten rival Michigan State.
Robbie Hummel was one of the top players in the entire country, and when he went down with an injury, so did hopes that the Boilmakers would finish the season strong and grab the final No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Another team that has lost its way of late is Villanova. After getting humiliated by Syracuse, losing 95-77 on the road, the Wildcats are even more unsure about their team's chances now that the Big East Tournament is on the horizon.
Scottie Reynolds has played outstanding for Jay Wright this season, but in the game against Syracuse, he was their lone bright spot (Scored 16 points). If Villanova wants to have any chance of advancing deep into March, they need to get more consistent scoring from different players.
The final team I have in this category is BYU. The Cougars have played exceptionally well throughout the course of the season, but have yet to win against New Mexico (lost both meetings by a combined six points) and had their 21 game win streak at home broken by the Lobos.
The one problem with the Cougars is that they rely on junior Jimmer Fredette too often. If he has a rough game in the tournament, such as BYU's last game against New Mexico in which Fredette had just six points (3 of 7 field goals), then the Cougars may be packing their bags much earlier than planned.
Top Seeds Belonging To This Category: Purdue, Villanova and BYU.