There's no doubt that the top-ranked Indiana Hoosiers deserve a No. 1 seed in this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Beyond that though, the resumes start to merge. Right now there may be 9 or 10 candidates for the other three top spots.
The week Michigan State just had serves as a shining example. The Spartans entered ranked No. 4 and hadn't dropped consecutive games all season. But the gauntlet of the Big Ten schedule ultimately caught up to them. A home loss to a really good Indiana team was followed by Sunday's spanking at the hands of No. 18 Ohio State, in which they were outscored 41-24 during the final 18 minutes and relinquished a nine-point second-half lead. And now the Spartans have to get ready for games against No. 7 Michigan and No. 19 Wisconsin.
But Michigan State isn't the only squad whose fortunes can change in such a short period of time. The No. 2 Miami Hurricanes were unbeaten in the Atlantic Coast Conference and gliding toward a league championship. But the Hurricanes traveled to lowly Wake Forest and got soundly whipped by 15 points Saturday. With a road game at No. 6 Duke on the horizon, a top seed suddenly looks shaky again.
Gonzaga has a real good chance to grab a No. 1 seed. But the Bulldogs have a potentially difficult road game at BYU (20-9) on Thursday, the third-place team in the West Coast Conference. Gonzaga hasn't played a ranked team since it lost to Butler on January 19, if they drop this one, then its 10-game winning streak will begin to look suspect for a No. 1 seed.
We might want to keep an eye on some teams ranked outside the top four spots -- No. 5 Florida, No. 6 Duke, or perhaps No. 11 Georgetown. If the Gators can manage to win out against three above .500 squads – Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama plus Vanderbilt – then they could very well be in line to capture a top seed. If Duke wins their remaining games (Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina), the Blue Devils will also be in position to get a top seed. Difficult schedules for both teams, but not nearly as tough as what Michigan State is up against. Also, let's not forget the surging Hoyas who have another chance at an elite win against No. 8 Syracuse, which it just beat at the Carrier Dome on Saturday.