Commentary

The top line's revolving door

Syracuse, Kentucky and Ohio State are top-line staples, but the fourth team is elusive

Originally Published: January 30, 2012
By Joe Lunardi | ESPN Insider
Mike Krzyzewski AP Photo/Gerry BroomeMike Krzyzewski has his Blue Devils riding on the top line, but can they secure their spot?

Welcome back to the expanded edition of Joe Lunardi's Rundown. With the start of January, this series now features tournament odds, an element that will take you deeper into Bracketology. Bracketology provides a snapshot of how the bracket looks on a specific day, but, through the use of Lunardi's extensive database of previous seasons, tournament odds tell you how the bracket is likely to look come Selection Sunday.

Top line report

Here we go again: Another week in which it's a game of roulette for the fourth spot on the top line of the projected NCAA bracket. Two weeks ago, Baylor got the nod and promptly lost twice (albeit to Kansas and Missouri). Last week we tabbed the Jayhawks, only to see them upset over the weekend at Iowa State.

This week's "last man standing" is Duke, a selection that will offend the knee-jerk haters but perhaps please those who closely study the ways and history of the men's basketball committee. Somewhat quietly, the Blue Devils have compiled a typically strong NCAA profile: RPI (No. 2), Strength of Schedule (No. 1), Non-Conference RPI (No. 1), Non-Conference Strength of Schedule (No. 4).

Duke also has the most wins in the country against RPI top 25 teams (four) and is tied for third with eight wins against the at-large consideration pool. If you ask me whether the Blue Devils are one of the four best teams in the country, I'd have to say no. If, on the other hand, you ask me whether they have one of the top four profiles, the answer is clearly yes.

Joe Lunardi | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com