On Tuesday everyone knew that UConn would be playing in the NCAA tournament but there were plenty of questions about where they would be. Five days later there are still questions but I like the answers a whole lot more. We will find out exactly where the Huskies will land tomorrow night, but it never hurts to do a little projecting.
First, here's UConn by the numbers:
Record: 25-9 (9-9)
Record v. Top-25 RPI: 6-8
Record v. 26-50 RPI: 5-0
Record v. 51-100 RPI: 3-1
Bad losses: none
Those numbers are good, but they're a lot better than they were because UConn has defeated 3 Top-25 RPI teams in the past three days. Coming in to the BET, UConn was probably looking at a six seed, though a loss to DePaul or bad loss to Georgetown could have dropped them down into the seven or eight range.
Now? It depends on what happens tonight, along with how the S-Curve shakes out, but the Huskies seem like a lock to at least earn a four seed and a win could even bump UConn up to the three line. Any higher than is probably out of reach because no matter how impressive this week have been, UConn still has nine losses and they would have to jump a whole pile of teams to be considered one of the top 8 in the country.
Luckily for UConn, the Big East tournament does it a lot of favors. First of all, the New York location, early start and competitive games means it has had the lion's share of media attention this week. UConn's performance on the court would be hard to ignore even without the media, but ESPN's adoration makes it impossible. That may not seem like a huge thing, but the selection committee watches TV too and the endless repetition of Kemba highlights can only have a positive effect.
Another bonus? Unlike a conference like the Big-12 that plays its title game on Sunday, the Big East ends tonight so if UConn does find a way to win that is tangible information the committee will have to lock UConn into a good spot.
Usually the converse -- that a bad loss could hurt the Huskies -- would be true, but I doubt that will apply. The five-games-in-five-days narrative might not be all it is cracked up to be, but it does offer UConn an out if they get overwhelmed by Louisville's zone press again. That's part of the reason I think UConn can feel secure that they have earned a 4 seed. Even if UConn has a terrible loss tonight you can expect the reaction to be something like "They played five games in five days, what did you expect?"
Two final things to keep an eye on. The first is location. The top four seed lines are supposed to be protected, meaning they get sent to the closest possible location. For UConn that would be Washington, D.C. However, if teams ahead of UConn on the S-Curve take up that location UConn might get shipped somewhere else. The popular dumping ground seems to be Denver, because the only team of note that is close to the Mile-High City is BYU, leaving an open slot. Of course, UConn has played first-round games in Denver before and it worked out pretty well.
The other thing? The aforementioned BYU. The committee says year after year that they do not slot teams looking for particular matchups and I never believe them. Mark it down now: if the committee thinks there is a way to pair UConn and BYU to create a Kemba v. Jimmer matchup in the Sweet 16 they will do it. I'd love to see this matchup (especially since Brandon Davies is out) but UConn might have tied the committee's hands if they can't play their way into a 3 seed. BYU is not getting a 1, so the best chance for these two to meet is a 2-3 matchup.