While getting an 8 or 9 seed as compared to a 10 or 11 seems like an accomplishment, its actually a kiss of death. #1 seeds are usually head and shoulders above the rest of the field, and 8-9 winners get stuck playing them in the 2nd round.
In my latest Bracketology projection, the following 8 teams are the unfortunate 8-9 seeds. For each team, I answer the following two questions: How can they earn 6 or 7 seeds? How can they drop to 10 or 11 seeds?
Alabama (20-10, 9-7, #32 RPI)
How can they rise? A win over South Carolina would not help Alabama's stature, so they can only rise if they then go on to beat Florida in the next round.
How can they fall? While the South Carolina game won't help Alabama's cause, it could certainly hurt it. Bama hasn't beaten a Top 50 team since November and their locker room is far from settled. A drop to a 10 seed is not out of the question with a loss.
Cincinnati (22-9, 12-6, #69 RPI)
How can they rise? Cincy just tipped off against Georgetown, which would certainly be a resume boosting win. But considering their low RPI and weak schedule, I don't think this one win would push them into a 7 seed. However, if they won and then beat Syracuse tomorrow, it would change everything.
How can they fall? As I just mentioned, Cincy's overall resume is far from sparkling. A loss could conceivably drop them into a 10 seed, but no lower than that.
Iowa St (22-9, 12-6, #31 RPI)
How can they rise? Now that Iowa St has garnered Top 25 respect and their RPI is creeping up towards the 20's, they have a good shot to move into a 6 or 7 seed with a win over Texas tonight. Even if they lost, there's a chance they could rise into the 7's depending on how other teams fare this week.
How can they fall? Even if Iowa St lost tonight, their solid conference success should ensure that they wouldn't drop below a 9 seed at worst.
Kansas St (21-10, 10-8, #43 RPI)
How can they rise? After losing to Baylor today, Kansas St's season is over, so there's nowhere to go but down.
How can they fall? Although a loss in the Big 12 quarterfinals is not terribly impressive, Kansas St is probably locked into this range. Losing to a Top 15 team in Baylor doesn't really hurt their resume, and the Wildcats RPI shouldn't drop by much.
New Mexico (23-6, 10-4, #34 RPI)
How can they rise? Beating Air Force tonight wouldn't help, so they'd need to go on and beat UNLV or Wyoming in the next round.
How can they fall? Considering New Mexico has been a fringe Top 25 team with a couple of marquee wins and a solid RPI, they won't fall below a 9 seed.
Purdue (20-11, 10-8, #44 RPI)
How can they rise? Purdue, the 6 seed in the Big Ten, faces #11 Nebraska tonight. To move up, Purdue would need to win this game and then also beat Ohio St tomorrow.
How can they fall? Although Purdue has a very solid resume, nothing really wows you. If they lost to Nebraska, a top 10 seed isn't out of the question though nothing much beyond that.
Saint Louis (23-6, 12-4, #30 RPI)
How can they rise? Saint Louis faces a very solid La Salle squad in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals. With a win and help, SLU could easily earn a 7 seed.
How can they fall? Unless teams like Mississippi St, Cal, or Northwestern go on epic runs, its hard to see SLU falling below the 8-9 range even if they lost to La Salle.
Virginia (22-8, 9-7, #42 RPI)
How can they rise? Virginia awaits the winner of NC State/Boston College. Considering Virginia's best win in two months is over NC State, I'm not sure how much beating them again would help. Of course, if Virginia somehow made their way to the ACC finals, that would help.
How can they fall? Considering Vrginia hasn't won a Top 100 game since January, it wouldn't take much for them to fall. In fact, if they lost to NC State/BC tomorrow, an 11 seed would not be out of the question.