Numbers say St. Joe's still No. 1 seed

Updated: March 12, 2004, 3:30 PM ET
By Joe Lunardi | Special to ESPN.com

Editor's Note: Joe Lunardi, a regular contributor to ESPN.com who provides weekly NCAA Tournament bracket projections, is St. Joseph's University assistant vice president and basketball color commentator. His next full 65-team bracket update will be Friday, March 12.

Last Saturday, when Stanford lost for the first time all season at Washington, no one suggested the Cardinal would lose their projected No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The media and coaches evidently agreed, as Stanford fell only one spot to No. 2 in both major polls.

So what of Saint Joseph's?

The Hawks hit the ground with an even louder thud against Xavier in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals. Suddenly, everyone is asking if the Hawks can still be a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday.

The case for Saint Joseph's goes something like this:

  • Even with the loss, the Hawks remain No. 2 in the InsideRPI rankings. Unlike Stanford, which lost to then-No. 93 Washington, Saint Joseph's was knocked off by an RPI Top 50 team (and one with two prior RPI Top 25 wins).

  • The Hawks still own the nation's No. 1 nonconference schedule and the No. 1 nonconference RPI. Stanford, on the other hand, checks in at No. 166 and No. 27 in those categories.

  • The Atlantic 10, at No. 8, has a slim lead over the Pac-10 (at No. 9) in conference RPI rankings. So it's not like Stanford automatically vaults ahead of the Hawks on the "we play in a better conference" argument.

    The real issue isn't whether Saint Joseph's will lose a No. 1 seed based on a single loss, but whether both the Hawks and Stanford are in danger. The Cardinal can still redeem themselves in the Pac-10 tourney, of course. But even with its loss, Saint Joseph's still enjoys the better profile of the two.

    All eyes now turn to the ACC, Big East and SEC tournaments, where Duke, Pitt, Mississippi State and Kentucky can have even higher hopes for a No. 1 seed. Gonzaga and Big 12 champion Oklahoma State should also receive legitimate consideration at this point.

    Joe Lunardi | email

    Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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