It's almost March. Tournaments will be tipping off all over the country (unless you're an Ivy League school, in which case your winning your conference title gets you that automatic NCAA bid). Top seeds may fall or rise to the occasion. But there are four coveted spots in the bracket of 65. Those four are the number one seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
Here's who I think may be the top dogs...
1. Memphis (25-0, 11-0, 1st Conference USA). They had a scare at Alabama-Birmingham last Saturday but for the time being they are still kings of the mountain. They host Tennessee Saturday night in Memphis. The Vols might give them fits and if the Tigers don't improve their free throw shooting, there could be another huge upset in the regular season. This won't affect them not being a top seed in the Big Dance. The strength of schedule for the Tigers is 28th, which is not all that good, even though CUSA is a pretty good conference. John Calipari has his guys peaking at the right time but they need to get better at the line.
2. Texas (22-4, 9-2, 2nd Big 12). At the time of this writing, they were handing their huge in-state and Big 12 rival Texas A&M their heads and may avenge an earlier loss to the Aggies in College Station. The Horns have a lot of speed and depth. D.J. Augustin averages 18 points a game and about 30 minutes. He is the key to any success Team Burnt Orange may have.
3. North Carolina. (24-2, 9-2, 2nd Atlantic Coast Conference). The Heels will have to get healthy and stay that way for the next few weeks. Ty Lawson and Quenton Jones have to get out of sick bay for Roy Williams' club to advance. They might not win the ACC title, let alone the ACC Tournament but given their history, they may be a top seed. Tyler Hansborough (22 ppg) needs to stay away from the injury bug too.
4. Duke (22-2 10-1, 1st Atlantic Coast Conference). Duke needs to forget the loss to Wake Forest. The Blue Devils will run the table in the regular season and then run the table in the ACC Tournament. Will they do the same in the NCAA? Hard to say. Duke does have the 4th toughest schedule in the nation and the ACC is not exactly a bunch of 98 pound weaklings. At the same time, this is not the Duke team that had Grant Hill and Christian Laitner. But they are pretty good, good enough to get a one seed if the time comes.
The empty NCAA men's bracket can be found on the NCAA website at www.ncaa.org.