Cats now playing for seeding

I am not on the NCAA selection committee, but I feel pretty safe in saying that the Wildcats earned a birth in the NCAA Tournament with their win over Washington State. To me the only question is where they get seeded.

The Cats are now 18-10, with a top-20 RPI and a top-10 strength of schedule. Even if they lose their next two games, I feel they are still in. At worst they would be 18-12 and have a top-25 RPI. No team from a major conference, and even in a down year the Pac-10 is a major conference, with an RPI of less than 42 has ever been omitted from the ‘Big Dance'.

To me the Cats are in and could be seeded anywhere from 4-12. In my opinion the Cats' seeding possibilities would read like a bell curve, the higher or lower the seed, the less likely the Cats are going to earn it. More than likely the Cats are a 6-9 seed.

In the worst case scenario, the Cats would be 18-12, riding a two-game losing streak and a 5-5 record over their last 10 games. To me that sounds like an 11 seed, possibly a 12. Most likely they'd get shipped far from home.

Conversely, if the Cats win out, that is beating Washington in Saturday and winning the Pac-10 Tournament, then I think they are a four or five. The Cats would be 22-10, potentially have a top-15 RPI and be 9-1 in their last 10. The Cats would be one of the hottest teams in the nation and would have an outside shot at a four-seed and a chance to play their first two games in San Diego.

A lot could hinge upon the Washington game. Beat the Huskies and the Cats have another top-50 RPI win, further enhancing their stock. A win over Washington probably earns them at least one seed, no matter what they do in the Pac-10 Tourney.

If the Cats beat UW and make the finals of the Pac-10's, I see them as a six or seven seed. More than likely a win over UW makes them an eight and each win in the Pac-10 could get them a seed higher. Beat UW, lose in first round and they are an eight. Beat UW and advance to second round and they could climb to a seven.

A loss to UW and they probably can't do any better than a seven and that would take a run to the Pac-10 finals, if not a win in the conference tournament. 20 wins probably has the Cats wearing white in the first round, most likely as an eight seed.

Of course a lot depends on other teams and other conference tournaments. With all of the recent upsets, a lot of teams are looking pretty good on the bubble. In addition, the committee has been known to flip flop a few seeds in order to create some more interesting match-ups. They claim that they do not do this, but how many times have we seen and 8/9 game that more resembles a 6-12 game, while the 6/12 game seems more like an 8/9 pairing?

To me the Cats are the type of second round opponent that would have a one or two seed a little scared, but at the same time have a first round opponent chomping at the bit. The Cats seem good enough to beat just about anyone they could see in the tournament, but inconsistent enough that they could get picked off at any time.

Just two weeks ago an NCAA bid seemed in jeopardy, now it seems as if all that is left to be determined is a seed and an opponent. The Cats are in, but now the fun begins.


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