Commentary

Two leagues dominate at the top

Updated: January 12, 2009, 3:54 PM ET
By Joe Lunardi | ESPN.com

It happens more often than you think. Namely, the emergence of multiple No. 1 seeds from the same conference.

Since the 64/65 team era began in 1985, such "double dipping" at the top of the bracket has become increasingly common. In fact, in just the past 11 seasons, it has occurred seven times.

Let's take a quick look back:

• 1985, Big East, Georgetown and St. John's
• 1993, Big Ten, Michigan and Indiana
• 1998, ACC, North Carolina and Duke
• 2000, Pac-10, Arizona and Stanford
• 2001, Big Ten, Michigan State and Illinois
• 2002, ACC, Maryland and Duke
• 2003, Big 12, Texas and Oklahoma
• 2005, ACC, North Carolina and Duke
• 2006, Big East, Connecticut and Villanova

I raise this history not because 2009 might add to the list above, but because it might add to this list TWICE. That's right. For the first time in the history of Bracketology, I have two sets of No. 1 seeds from the same conference in the same year.

This week, the Big East (Pitt, UConn) and the ACC (Duke, Wake Forest) occupy all four spots on the top line. And it doesn't seem unlikely that this really could be the case come Selection Sunday.

The reason is that both conferences have even more top seed candidates in addition to these four. I mean, who would have imagined any bracket this season not including North Carolina as a No. 1 seed? From the Big East, it wouldn't surprise anyone if Louisville, Georgetown or even a Syracuse emerged as a legitimate No. 1 seed candidate.

It's one thing to have a truly loaded conference in any one season. It's quite another to have two conferences so loaded that they dominate the entire upper portion of the bracket. This week, in addition to all four No. 1 seeds, the Big East and ACC have seven of the top eight teams, nine of the top 12, and 11 of the top 16.

Fans of teams outside of these conferences probably find this state of affairs outrageous. As an unabashed BCS conference critic, I also find it a bit hard to swallow. But facts are facts. If someone gives you the Big East and the ACC against "the field" for the national championship, take it. We are witnessing history.

Come March, a Michigan State or a UCLA or some combination of Oklahoma/Texas may have something to say about it, but who else is really in position to cut down the nets in Detroit? Outside of two conferences, it's an extremely short list.

And it's going to start at the very top of the bracket.

Joe Lunardi is the resident bracketologist for ESPN, ESPN.com and ESPN Radio. Comments may be sent to bracketology@comcast.net.

Joe Lunardi | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com