If you’ve followed college basketball to any degree this season, you know one thing above all else: it’s wide open.
Like, really wide open.
“Last year, it was Kentucky and the three teams people thought could beat Kentucky,” CBS Sports bracketology expert Jerry Palm said in studio at CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “(This year), you could make a legitimate case for about 16 to 18 teams. There’s only two that I actually trust – Kansas and Michigan State – but with the right matchups, I could see even a team like Purdue, which is going to be a 4 or a 5, make that kind of run.”
As of now, Palm believes that Kansas, Oklahoma, Villanova, and Michigan State will be the 1-seeds, while Oregon, Xavier, Virginia and North Carolina are still firmly in the mix.
“Kansas is really the only lock,” he said. “They’re for sure going to be a 1. They might even be a lock for the overall 1, but the other three spots are basically up for grabs going into the conference tournaments. That’s the kind of thing you normally say in the second week of February, not the second week of March. So it’s just part of what’s been a very unusual year in college basketball.”
It’s been especially unusual for Iowa (21-10, 12-6). The Hawkeyes started 19-4 but have since lost six of eight. Four of those six losses came by four points or fewer.
“That’s a team that’s had a very strange year,” Palm said. “They entered 2016 unranked. Then they beat Michigan State twice, they beat Purdue twice, they get on this unbelievable role – I (had) them as a 1-seed in the beginning of February.”
Then came the six losses in eight games.
“I just think confidence has gone away,” Palm said. “It’s the same guys doing largely the same things, but shots aren’t falling. You can tell they press at times. Especially as this losing streak has snowballed, you can see guys trying too hard. It’s the kind of stuff that you’d normally see teams that are pressing do. I think it’s just kind of gotten away from them a little bit. They’re still a pretty good team, but they just aren’t putting it all together. I really think it’s more between the ears right now than it is anything athletic.”