The top four seeds in the SEC tournament in Nashville next week are set with Kentucky No. 1 and Florida No. 2. South Carolina and Arkansas, in an order to be determined today, will be third or fourth.
But with one day to go in the regular season, the only thing certain for the ACC Tournament is North Carolina (13-4 in the conference) as the top seed in Brooklyn.
Three teams, Notre Dame (12-5), Florida State (11-6) and Louisville (11-6), are in the running for the second seed, but circumstances also could drop the Irish as low as fifth, the Seminoles as low as sixth and the Cardinals as far down as seventh.
Duke (11-6) could finish anywhere from third to seventh. Miami (10-7) and Virginia (10-7) could be fourth or drop to ninth. And Virginia Tech (10-7) could be anywhere between fifth and eighth.
The top eight teams in the ACC are separated by only three games.
At stake is the coveted “double-bye,” created when conferences expanded to 14 or more teams. That means teams finishing first through fourth won’t play until the quarterfinal round, while the bottom four teams in the SEC and bottom six in the ACC will have to play two games to get to that stage — then win two more to reach a championship game.
There are 90 possible scenarios among the seven ACC teams following North Carolina that would determine their seeding for the conference tournament. Nine of them involve whether the Seminoles can get the second seed or fall as many as four spots. Virginia Tech has 18 scenarios and Louisville has 15.
The 15th-ranked Seminoles (23-7) can make it as simple as possible by beating No. 25 Miami (20-9) at home. FSU would then need help from Louisville beating Notre Dame to get the second seed in the tournament, winning a three-team tie-breaker on the basis of a 2-1 record against those other two teams.
FSU will fall no lower than fourth by beating the Hurricanes. Lose, and the best the ‘Noles can hope for is the third seed and even then, Louisville, Duke (which plays at North Carolina) and Virginia (home against Pittsburgh) would have to lose.
Florida State’s advantage is that the Tucker Center has been as good a home-court edge as possible. The Seminoles are 17-0 at home this season and have won 19 in a row at home going back to last season.
“It’s a testament to our kids and their hard work and the way they play,” said FSU coach Leonard Hamilton. “I think our fans see our guys enjoying playing and I think they enjoy watching them enjoy themselves. So it’s kind of like we feed off each other. The fans like the style of ball that we’re able to play. Our kids have bought into it and our fans have bought into it. I think that’s driven the crowds.”
The Gators (24-6, 14-3) made their lives simpler by beating Arkansas on Wednesday and will play their first SEC Tournament game on 7 p.m., March 10. UF, which plays at Vanderbilt (16-14, 9-8) at 2 p.m. on Saturday, faces the winner of the seventh vs. 10th seeds which could be Georgia, Ole Miss, Vandy, Texas A&M, Tennessee or Auburn.
Top-seeded Kentucky plays at 1 p.m. on March 10 against the winner of the eight vs. nine seeds.
While UF’s immediate future is set, there is some motivation against the Commodores on Saturday. Vandy is the only team to beat the Gators at home this season and is the only SEC team to be undefeated against coach Mike White in his two years at Florida.
“I feel like we owe them one,” said Florida senior Canyon Barry.
The Gators also can win 25 regular-season games for only the third time in school history.