For the first time in program history, Wisconsin is still holding on to a chance at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Nebraska loss hurt a lot, but the Badgers can still recover with a good run in the Big Ten tournament and some help. Here are the other major players for the top-line — in order of threat — that stand between Wisconsin and history.
Kansas (24-8, 14-4 Big 12)
Last: W Oklahoma State 77-70 OT Next: No. 16 Iowa State
Kansas dodged a bullet in the Big 12 quarterfinals, sneaking by Oklahoma State in overtime. A loss to the Cowboys would have put the Jayhawks on the outside looking in, but now a win over the Cyclones Friday would put them in the driver seat for the final No. 1 seed. One thing that could be working against Kansas is the injury of Joel Embiid and the possibility that the selection committee knocks the Jayhawks to the two-line with the absence of their enforcer in the paint for at least the first weekend.
Michigan (23-7, 15-3 Big Ten)
Last: W Indiana 84-80 Next: Illinois
Michigan seems like the team no one is talking about for a top seed in the NCAA, but a couple of wins in the Big Ten Tournament would make them hard to leave out of the top line. If both Wisconsin and Michigan advance to the Big Ten Tournament championship, the game could effectively become a play-in for the No. 1 seed.
Virginia (25-6, 16-2 ACC)
Last: L Maryland 75-69 OT Next: Florida State
Tony Bennett and his Virginia team have been a great story in the ACC this season, but its regular season finale loss to Maryland put a sour taste on an otherwise remarkable season. If the Cavaliers pick up a couple of quality wins in the conference tournament, they will become real players for a No. 1 seed.
Villanova (28-4, 16-2 Big East)
Last: L Seton Hall 64-63 Next: TBD
The Wildcats significantly hurt their bid for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament by losing to the Pirates in the quarterfinal round of the Big East Tournament. Villanova has fewer losses than anyone on this list, but it is 1-3 against RPI top-25 teams and carries a loss to eighth-place team in the Big East.
Duke (24-7, 13-5 ACC)
Last: W No. 18 North Carolina 93-81 Next: Clemson
Duke has plenty of quality wins, but its loss to Wake Forest last weekend really put a dent in its tournament resume. The Blue Devils will need to win the ACC tournament if they want a realistic shot at the top-line.