Getting a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament comes with the cache and vindication of being the top dog of your region. But besides the glory, there’s also a tangible effect that comes with earning a 1 seed. Since 1985, 1 seeds have made 48 Final Four appearances.
Compare that to 26 Final Four appearances for 2 seeds, and you’ll realize the importance of being on the top seed line. 3 seeds have made a collective 14 appearances during the final weekend of college basketball, further underscoring the difference between the 1 seeds and everybody else.
If that wasn’t enough, consider the following. Since 1985, four 2 seeds have won the National Championship. Four 3 seeds have also won the big game. But 1 seeds have taken home the title 18 times in the same time frame. That’s a stark difference.
So if you’re one of those people who are saying it’s no big deal if Arizona gets the 1 or 2 seed in the West region, you’re dumb. The road to the Final Four is much less bumpy when you’re a 1 seed.
Granted, the difficulty of the Wildcats’ path to the Final Four will depend on their draw, and they can get put in the same bracket as a strong underdog whether they’re a 1 or 2 seed. But historically, there’s no question which side of that line you want to be on.
So can Arizona cross the threshold into 1 seed territory? Gonzaga losing over the weekend opened the door, but the Wildcats still have work to do if they want to feel good about their chances.
First off, Arizona will need to win out the last five games of the season (two regular season, three Pac-12 Tournament). And on top of that, they’ll likely need to score yet another win over top 15 ranked Utah to boost their resume above others’.
A team like Villanova doesn’t have the bad losses that Arizona does (UNLV, Oregon St, Arizona St), and they have the RPI and strength of schedule to support their case as well.
Wisconsin is another team fighting for a 1 seed, though they’re likely behind Villanova as it stands today. And there’s also Kansas, who has slipped lately but can ultimately put together a strong resume if they win out and some teams ahead of them go down.
As of right now, it would be unlikely for Arizona to get the 1 seed in the west without some help from teams losing games they shouldn’t. In all likelihood, the Wildcats will be placed as the 2 seed in the same region.
But stranger things have happened before. As long as Arizona takes care of business at home against the Bay Area schools and also in the Pac-12 Tournament, they’ll have a chance. Even with a 2 seed, Cats fans should feel good about a deep tourney run. But with the 1 seed, those odds go way up.
Is it Selection Sunday yet?