Three things to think about as play continues in the conference tournaments.
What happens to UCLA without Jordan Adams? The Bruins just became one of the most intriguing stories of the postseason. UCLA battled back from an 11-point second-half deficit to beat Arizona for the third time this season 66-64. But on the final play of the game, freshman guard Jordan Adams came down awkwardly while guarding on defense. He broke his right foot and has been lost for the season. Adams had scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half. He is UCLA’s second leading scorer at 15.2 points and, understandably, it lead to a very emotional scene in the UCLA locker room after the game. This UCLA team has endured a season full of transfers, suspensions and injuries, but this one comes with the worst possible timing. How will the Division I men’s basketball committee factor in the loss of Adams? Injuries do factor into a team’s seed. The committee members may have a long night ahead of them Saturday in Indianapolis. UCLA meets Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game at 11 p.m. ET. The loss of Adams, coupled with a lower seed, could mean an early departure for the Bruins.
You can see the reaction of UCLA guard Larry Drew II
Is Duke still a No. 1 seed? Not sure that anyone saw that 83-74 loss to Maryland coming in the ACC quarterfinals. Duke looked to be a lock for a No. 1 seed – maybe even the top No. 1 overall - if the Blue Devils made it to the ACC final. Perhaps reaching the semifinals would have been enough. Then again, maybe it’s still good enough that Duke has the No. 1 RPI, the No. 1 strength of schedule, a 9-2 record against the RPI top 50, and a 15-5 record against the RPI top 100. Duke is no longer undefeated with Ryan Kelly in the lineup. Gonzaga figures to be one top seed. Indiana is in good shape as well and the Hoosiers might move to No. 1 overall slot just by advancing to the Big Ten tournament final. Georgetown’s loss to Syracuse in the Big East semifinal round keeps the Hoyas on the second line. Louisville would almost certainly be a No. 1 seed with a win over Syracuse Saturday night. But an Orange victory could open things up. That would possibly leave Duke, Kansas and Miami in the discussion for two of the No. 1 seeds. If the Jayhawks defeat Kansas State for a third time and win the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles, they might have case. It all depends on how the committee weighs that horrible loss to TCU. Duke doesn’t have a loss like that. And if Miami wins the ACC tournament, the Hurricanes would also have the ACC regular-season championship on their resume.
Can Kentucky get in the NCAA field? I don’t see anything that supports Kentucky being one of the best 37 at-large teams in the nation. And the title of defending national champion does not earn an automatic bid. Friday’s 64-48 loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC quarterfinals was Kentucky’s second loss to a RPI 101-150 team this season. The other came March 7 at Georgia. Kentucky’s RPI is 56. Kentucky’s strength of schedule is 73. The Wildcats were 4-7 on the road and have just one win over a RPI top 25 team – that was against Florida on March 9 – Kentucky’s only win in its last four games. Twelve of Kentucky’s 21 victories came against sub-150 RPI teams. The committee no longer looks at results from the last 12 or last 10 games but Kentucky has lost three of four and is 7-5 in the last 12. Finally, there’s the old eye test. Did Kentucky look like a tournament-ready team against Vanderbilt? Heck, Vandy coach Kevin Stallings demanded his players go to class Friday before heading to the SEC tournament. “I just hope we’re the best of the bad right now,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said Friday. Hmmm. Don’t think so.