The Pulse: Planting Seeds


Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and chatting with experts in The Show. We collect the daily highlights and put them in The Pulse.

Story of the Day: Five Contenders

Oklahoma State is a team just trying to get through the final days of a difficult season, but the Cowboys may have still managed to leave their imprint on the bracket for the NCAA Tournament.

By beating Texas soundly over the weekend, Oklahoma State appears to have knocked the Longhorns out of the race for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Texas now trails Kansas in the Big 12 standings and is ranked seventh in both major polls. But removing Rick Barnes' team from the mix hasn't exactly cleared up the picture, as Connecticut, Duke, Gonzaga, Memphis and Villanova appear to be playing musical chairs for the four prized spots.

So what's SportsNation's take? Those five teams may have separated themselves from the pack, but voters think there is also a clear division within that top tier. Connecticut, Duke and Villanova are safe, with Gonzaga and Memphis left to battle for the final top seed.

SportsNation thinks these teams are headed to the NCAA Tournament, even if it means at-large bids.
94.1% Bucknell
82.0% Marquette
77.3% Nevada
73.7% George Mason
73.7% Michigan
62.3% Syracuse
60.8% Creighton
60.5% Seton Hall
54.8% Cincinnati

  • Vote on 20 bubble teams!

    Which team is most likely to miss out on a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament? (15,267 votes)
    56.7% Gonzaga
    27.1% Memphis
    10.3% Villanova
    3.7% Connecticut
    2.0% Duke

    What NCAA Tournament seed do you think George Washington deserves at this point? (13,792 votes)
    33.2% No. 3
    29.5% No. 2
    17.2% No. 4
    14.2% No. 5 or lower
    5.7% No. 1

    Which is the toughest conference in college basketball this season? (33,352 votes)
    51.0% Big East
    24.2% Big Ten
    17.6% ACC
    3.8% Big 12
    3.2% SEC

  • Click here to vote on the five favorites for No. 1 seeds

    SportsNation's Show

    Is it ever too early to talk sleepers? Not if you've got Joe Lunardi's latest bracket projections. Check out SportsNation's sleeper picks from five teams Lunardi has seeded sixth or lower, including Kevin Pittsnogle and West Virginia.
    38.9% West Virginia
    27.0% North Carolina
    20.7% Georgetown
    6.6% Oklahoma
    6.6% Washington

    Lee (Marshalltown, Iowa): Is there any possibility of a Big Ten team earning a No. 1 seed? It has been the top RPI conference all season, and yet, unless it is Michigan State or Illinois, it seems no one gets to that top line in the bracket.

    Joe Lunardi: Good question, Lee. At this point, I think only Michigan State can run the table and get into the No. 1 seed discussion. I say that mainly because State closes with four of five at home.

  • Click here for Lunardi's chat transcript

    Russ (Dyersville, Iowa): What's it going to take for you guys to come out on top ahead of UConn and 'Nova?

    Pitt C Aaron Gray: Both of those teams are obviously great teams. But we bring something to the table like those two teams. As long as we stay focused and play our game and not theirs, we'll have a great chance of winning the game. We've shown in tough games we're not going to give up. That's a great characteristic for any team. No matter who we play against, we'll have a chance to win.

  • Click here for Gray's chat transcript

    Dan (Washington, D.C.): Why shouldn't George Washington get a No. 2 seed? I understand that GW has played a soft schedule and has few big wins, but what about the fact nearly every team behind them in the polls has at least two bad losses? I'll give you Duke, UConn, Villanova, Gonzaga and Memphis, but every other team in the top 25 has bad losses that GW doesn't have.

    Andy Katz: The reason is the strength of schedule. I know it's not GW's fault that the A-10 is down, but the Colonials didn't do enough outside to merit a No. 2. Now, they still might if everyone keeps losing. But as of today, I wouldn't put them at No. 2.

  • Click here for Katz's chat transcript

    Voice of the Fan: Connecticut's Fate
    I am a UConn fan, but I am not just saying this because I have blinders on. This team is still the best team in the country. They will beat Villanova this weekend. They will make it to the Final Four and will have a good shot at being the national champions.
    R.Keane (Old Southington, Conn.)

    It's the "other" postseason tourney for these teams, according to SportsNation voters.
    83.1% Indiana
    71.0% Maryland
    56.6% Missouri State
    56.2% Alabama
    56.1% UNC Wilmington
    54.7% Southern Illinois
    53.4% Colorado
    52.0% UAB
    51.8% Western Kentucky
    51.4% Arizona
    51.4% Kentucky

  • Vote on 20 bubble teams!

    Jim Calhoun needs to lighten up on these guys; he is on them way too much. Let them play and if they slack off, you have the deepest bench in America and let pine time do the talking.
    John (Buffalo)

    UConn's close win against Notre Dame proves what many people have been saying about them: amazing talent but questionable desire.
    Hende (Ohio)

    If UConn keeps playing down to their competition, they will NOT win the tourney. They are the most talented team in the country, but they should be winning by 10-15 every night and they don't. That will come back to haunt them in the tourney.
    Charles (Pittsburgh)

  • Click here for transcript of Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie

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