By LARRY VAUGHT
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has Kentucky as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament but on a national telconference Wednesday said it is not a “solid” No. 1.
“Not solid because, A, they could lose. B, the prospect of Duke reasserting itself and owning a pretty significant head‑to‑head victory over Kentucky, which admittedly was a long time ago, but it’s still on the board and can’t be ignored,” Lunardi said.
” And I’m going to still say nobody’s really talking about Michigan State as a possible 1, but I think in this year’s Big Ten, if you win both titles, you at least got to get some serious discussion to get up to that top line with the understanding that the committee sometimes isn’t fully embracing those late Sunday games in the evaluation or bracketing process, but the rest of us pay attention.
“I think there’s basically three scenarios for two spots on the top line. Virginia is going to be a 1. No matter what people are saying about last night, Gonzaga is going to be the 1 in the West. So that leaves an ACC spot ‑‑ Duke‑Carolina in my view ‑‑ an SEC spot, and the Michigan State Wild Card.
“I do not think LSU can be the SEC spot, even though that would mean winning both titles. I just have a hard time seeing them putting LSU on the first line for a lot of reasons at this point.”
Stanford athletics director Bernard Muir, chairman of the NCAA selection committee, noted that even if UK is a No. 2 it could still play in the South Region where the semifinals and final are in Louisville. That could give UK a huge advantage against a team that earned a No. 1 seed and could play in an arena filled with Kentucky fans for a berth in the Final Four.
“We make a point of making sure the teams play close to their national region,” Muir said. “In this case with Kentucky, if they happen to be next in line, and Louisville is available, the committee will not have a problem putting them in that potential region provided there’s no other conflict.”