Predicting Top 10 Overall Seeds in the 2014 NCAA Tournament

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Predicting the 2014 NCAA Tournament's Top 10 Overall Seeds

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With the 2014 NCAA Tournament just about a month away, it's about time to start speculating about who will earn the top overall seeds in the Big Dance. College basketball is starting to really heat up and it seems like the perfect time to predict which teams will land in one of the top 10 spots overall in the tourney -- that would be the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds and two of the No. 3 seeds.

There have been a plethora of teams rising in the ranks all season long. For example, the Michigan Wolverines started the season with a 6-4 record and it looked like they were in danger of missing out on the NCAA Tournament after just 10 games. However, they have been one of the hottest teams in the nation, reeling off 12 wins in their last 14 games and looking at a Big Ten title race and a possible top-three seed.

Michigan is just one great example of a team rising in the ranks because of an enormous hot streak, but the Wichita State Shockers are another team on a similar path. Going from a preseason No. 16-ranked team to a top-five team in the nation hasn't been easy for the Shockers. Wichita State has been hot all season long, however, posting a 26-0 overall record and a 13-0 record in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Will the Shockers be a No. 1 seed even though they have yet to play a ranked team all season long and have beaten just three teams with an RPI in the top 50 in the country? It's possible, but one loss could drop them from a No. 1 seed to a No. 3 or No. 4 seed purely based on the 101st-ranked strength of schedule.

Let's take a look at who I have predicted to be the top 10 overall seeds in this year's NCAA Tournament. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my selections.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at connor.muldowney@rantsports.com.

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10. Cincinnati Bearcats (22-3, 11-1 AAC)

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Although Cincinnati plays in the extremely top-heavy American Athletic Conference, the Bearcats have an opportunity to show the country that their 22-3 record is no fluke. Sean Kilpatrick has taken this team from relative contenders to serious contenders faster than anyone could have imagines.

Projected Seed: 3

RPI: 14

Strength of Schedule: 66

Best wins: vs. Pittsburgh(20-5), vs. SMU(19-5), @ No. 18 Memphis(19-5), @ No. 12 Louisville(19-4), vs. No. 22 Connecticut(19-5)

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9. Wichita State Shockers (26-0, 13-0 Missouri Valley)

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Wichita State has been knocked for not having played a very tough schedule, but the Shockers are still unbeaten and that's not an easy thing to do no matter how tough the teams are that they play. However, I will predict that they lose at least one game in the regular season or the conference tournament which will drop them down more than it would a team from a power conference.

Projected Seed: 3

RPI: 7

Strength of Schedule: 101

Best wins: vs. BYU(17-10), vs. Tennessee(15-9)

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8. Michigan Wolverines (18-6, 10-2 Big Ten)

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After a slow 6-4 start to the season including a loss to the lowly Charlotte 49ers on a neutral court, the Wolverines had a lot of work to do to prove they belonged in the NCAA Tournament. Reeling off 10 straight wins and 12 of their next 14 was a good start -- and they still have a chance to win a Big Ten title. It looks like their Big Ten title hopes will come down to a Feb. 23 matchup with in-state foe, Michigan State.

Projected Seed: 2

RPI: 13

Strength of Schedule: 12

Best wins: vs. Florida State(14-10), @ No. 3 Wisconsin(20-5), vs. No. 10 Iowa(18-6), @ No. 3 Michigan State(21-4), @ No. 22 Ohio State(19-6)

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7. Villanova Wildcats (22-2, 10-1 Big East)

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Villanova has come out of nowhere to be one of the best teams in the nation. Jay Wright is leading an unranked team in the preseason to a top-10 team in the nation. While the Big East is not nearly what it used to be after the departure of its top teams from last season, the Wildcats have still posted a 22-2 record -- impressive regardless of which conference you play in.

Projected Seed: 2

RPI: 5

Strength of Schedule: 36

Best wins: vs. No. 2 Kansas(18-6), vs. No. 23 Iowa(18-6), @ Marquette(14-10), @ Georgetown(15-9)

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6. Duke Blue Devils (19-5, 8-3 ACC)

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Duke began the season as one of a few national title favorites and a serious Final Four threat, but they haven't been as dominant as many people had expected. However, they are still 19-5 and have a pretty favorable remaining schedule. A win against No. 1 Syracuse at home on Feb. 22 could catapult them to No. 1 seed talks.

Projected Seed: 2

RPI: 8

Strength of Schedule: 5

Best wins: vs. No. 22 Michigan(18-6), vs. UCLA(19-5), vs. Virginia(20-5), @ No. 18 Pittsburgh(20-5)

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5. Kansas Jayhawks (18-6, 9-2 Big 12)

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Kansas has one of the best young freshmen in the nation in Andrew Wiggins. However, it has been freshman Joel Embiid that has risen from the ranks to be the team's most impressive player this season. Those two will surely help Kansas contend for a No. 1 seed, but they will likely lose at least one more game to finish the regular season and conference tournament. They will, however, be the top overall No. 2 seed.

Projected Seed: 2

RPI: 1

Strength of Schedule: 1

Best wins: vs. No. 4 Duke(19-5), vs. Georgetown(15-9), vs. No. 25 Kansas State(17-7), @ No. 8 Iowa State(18-5), vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State(16-8), vs. No. 24 Baylor(15-9), vs. No. 16 Iowa State(18-5)

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4. Michigan State Spartans (21-4, 10-2 Big Ten)

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Let's face it, when this Michigan State team is healthy, it's likely the best and deepest overall team in the nation. However, the Spartans have been plagued by injuries to PF Adreian Payne(missed a month), PG Keith Appling(missed three games, still day-to-day) and SF/PF Branden Dawson(been out since Jan. 25) -- three of the team's top four scorers. Once these guys are all back, the depth on the team will carry them to a No. 1 seed. Appling and Dawson are expected to be back within the next couple of weeks -- watch out.

Projected Seed: 1

RPI: 10

Strength of Schedule: 25

Best wins: vs. No. 1 Kentucky(19-5), vs. Oklahoma(18-7), @ Texas(19-5), vs. No. 3 Ohio State(19-6), @ No. 15 Iowa(18-6)

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3. Arizona Wildcats (23-1, 10-1 Pac-12)

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Arizona has been bitten by the injury bug a bit as of late, but the Wildcats are still the strongest team in the Pac-12 and arguably a team that could easily be ranked No. 1 in the nation. Why do I have them as No. 3 overall then? Well, five of the team's final seven regular season games are on the road -- the Wildcats are due for at least one loss.

Projected Seed: 1

RPI: 2

Strength of Schedule: 10

Best wins: @ San Diego State(21-2), vs. No. 6 Duke(19-5), @ Michigan(18-6), @ UCLA(19-5), vs. Oregon(15-8)

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2. Florida Gators (22-2, 11-0 SEC)

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The Florida Gators have to be one of the hottest teams in the nation right now -- if not the hottest. After beginning the year with a 6-2 record, the Gators have reeled off 16 straight games and have made it look relatively easy. They have a tough schedule remaining, but if the Gators can two or three of their remaining four road games, they will be a No. 1 seed.

Projected Seed: 1

RPI: 4

Strength of Schedule: 45

Best wins: vs. No. 13 Kansas(18-6), vs. No. 15 Memphis(19-5), vs. Tennessee(15-9), vs. Missouri(17-7), @ Tennessee(15-9)

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1. Syracuse Orange (24-0, 11-0 ACC)

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As one of two remaining unbeaten teams, the Syracuse Orange have to be as good as any team in the nation -- if not the best team. Joining the highly competitive ACC has been nothing but good for the Orange as they have yet to lose a game as members of their new conference. When you have one of the best young point guards in the nation in Tyler Ennis and one of the best overall players in the nation, C.J. Fair, on your team, you're going to be pretty good. However, the Orange still have to travel to Virginia and Duke during their remaining schedule.

Projected Seed: 1 overall

RPI: 3

Strength of Schedule: 74

Best wins: vs. No. 18 Baylor(15-9), vs. Indiana(14-10), vs. No. 8 Villanova(22-2), vs. North Carolina(16-7), vs. No. 22 Pittsburgh(20-5), vs. No. 17 Duke(19-5), @ No. 25 Pittsburgh(20-5)

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