#1 seeds: Zero-sum game for UVA, Duke?

accListening to one of the various ESPN studio analysts discussing Selection Sunday, the idea was thrown out that the ACC won’t really end up getting two #1 seeds when the NCAA Tournament field is announced in two weeks.

The reason: well, either UVA or Duke has to lose at least one more game.

Which on its face is certainly true. #2 UVA and #4 Duke could win out through the ACC Tournament final, but one of them has to lose that game.

That scenario, of course, is the one that guarantees two #1 seeds for the ACC.

There are plenty of others in which one or neither ends up with a #1 seed, but the win-out scenario is not even remotely close to being one of them.

Duke still has Syracuse and Wake Forest (at home) and a game at UNC to close out the regular season. Assume wins in the home games. Win at UNC, then lose in the ACC before the final, maybe the Blue Devils fall to the two line, but at that point, they’re 28-4, 29-4, wins at Virginia and Wisconsin. It’s hard to keep that Duke team out of a #1.

Win out to the ACC Tournament final and lose to Virginia, that’s a 30-4 Duke team. No way that Duke team isn’t a #1.

Now to Virginia: the Cavs have Virginia Tech (home) and games next week at Syracuse and at Louisville. Beat Tech and split next week, then lose a game before the ACC Tournament final, and that’s a 28-3, 29-3 UVA team. The only way that doesn’t lead to a #1 for the Cavs is if Justin Anderson is still not back in the mix.

The win-out-but-lose-to-Duke scenario has Virginia at 31-2 on Selection Sunday. Seriously, that isn’t a #1?

The scenario where neither gets a one is obvious. You have to go out and win. Start tanking down the stretch, as we saw Duke and Syracuse do last year, when at this stage, a week to go in the regular season, both appeared to be locks for #1s, and you can freefall down the seed lines.

You don’t think about this as much with the top teams, but it’s very similar as it is on the other end, where the teams are trying to play their way off the bubble and into the Dance: win, you’re in.

– Column by Chris Graham