4 NCAA Tournament Opponents to Avoid on Selection Sunday
It is held in March every year.
There will always be teams among NCAA tournament teams who are clearly more dangerous than their moderate seeding suggests.
In the past, it’s been a Kentucky team with lots of freshmen, and it fell apart in a matter of months. Or the Oregon team that stumbled early but surged in March. Or the tournament-proven, criminally underseeded teams of Wichita State and Loyola Chicago.
[Also: 4 opponents your team should hope to draw on Selection Sunday]
The purpose of this annual column is to identify opponents that NCAA men’s tournament teams want to avoid at all costs. Last year, we successfully identified Arkansas and Michigan before the bracket was announced. Of course, Iowa, Loyola Chicago and South Dakota also swung and missed.
This year’s list features four teams that have little in common, aside from the possibility of inducing groans from the opponents they have to face. Let’s start with the predicted No. 6 seed, who won 15-3 in the Power Conference.
23-8, 15-3 sec | Projected Seed: 6 | Ken Pom: 24
Just a year ago, Buzz Williams was distraught after Texas A&M’s shocking exclusion from the NCAA Tournament. Williams, reading a statement prepared after the Aggies won the first round of his NIT, said the selection process was “flawed” and “broken”, and said the selection committee had “personal bias”. accused of allowing it to influence its decisions.
I don’t need another March soliloquy this year. Texas A&M is tournament-based, and the burgeoning Aggies will be a team no one wants to play against.
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Texas A&M, which has staggered through the non-league schedule, has been a juggernaut since losing to two teams with no momentum. The Aggies achieved his SEC record of 15-3, putting him one game ahead of No. 1 Alabama. They beat Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas at home. They won in Auburn and Missouri. According to Bart Torvik’s T-Rankings, they’ve been performing like the top five teams in the country since his January 1st.
Texas A&M is the No. 6 seed due to a formidable league schedule and losses to Wofford and Murray State, both of which came before Christmas.Heck, one was before Thanksgiving. They have little to do with today’s Aggies, a team with elite point guards, proven coaches, and formidable defenses. It’s a team that could reach the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, if not more.
23-8, 14-6 ACC | Prediction Seeds: 6-7 | Kenpom: 31
John Shire’s debut season at Duke University has been bumpy at times, but give him credit for peaking the Blue Devils at just the right time. They enter his ACC Tournament with his 6 straight wins and his 9 out of 11 wins. His one of these two losses was at the Virginia game, where Kyle Filipowski was robbed of a chance to win the game at the free-throw line.
That defense will be the catalyst if Duke is looking to make it to the top of the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils have boasted the top 20 defenses in the nation for over a month now. The emergence of freshman Derek Lively as an elite rim protector has made it difficult for opponents to produce clean looks in the paint.
The offense is still a work in progress for Duke, but developing other freshmen besides Filipowski has helped. Tyrese Proctor appeared as another capable ball he handler and shot he creator in support of Jeremy Roach. Meanwhile, Darik his whitehead provided much-needed outside shots and scoring his punches since his return from injury.
Is this a national title Duke team? Almost certainly not. Almost everything needs to break right for the Blue Devils to return to the Final Four. But this is a team far more talented than any other expected No. 7 seed, and showing signs of clicking at the right time.
19-12, 8-10 sec | Prediction Seed: 8-9 | Ken Pom: 19
Arkansas is on a three-game losing streak entering the SEC tournament.The Razorbacks finished under both vanderbilt and florida in league standings. So what are they doing on this list? It’s because they’re far more talented and far more dangerous than other teams expected to be seeded in the 8-9 range.
Anthony Black is a projected 2023 lottery pick for his playmaking off the dribble and ability to defend multiple positions. So does Nick Smith Jr. His scorer and tough his shots are due to his prowess as a maker. And neither are Arkansas’ top scorers this year, nor are they the most insane athletes. That’s what this guy is.
So why has Arkansas lost more SEC games this season than it has won? Nine A match against the top 5 teams in the league. The other was a lingering knee injury that kept Smith out until mid-February. But perhaps the Razorbacks’ biggest problem is their complete lack of outdoor shooting. It’s not just that 3S can’t be hit.they please do not shoot them. According to KenPom, only his 20.7% of points came via his 3-pointers, making him 357th nationally.
Still, Arkansas will be a handful for teams without a long athletic frontline to protect the rim. Please: A top 20 KenPom team with 5 starters and 2 lottery picks, or someone like Northwestern, Providence, Missouri, Maryland?
25-8, 17-1 Patriot | Prediction Seeds: 14-15 | Ken Pom: 112
There is one NCAA Tournament opponent that could scare the shaky 2nd or 3rd seed. That’s Colgate, with a few traits that make him a more formidable draw for an elite team than the average 14th or 15th seed.
One of them is the experience of the NCAA Tournament. Colgate was part of last year’s group that led Johnny Davis’ Wisconsin deep into the second half in Round 64. Are they scared of whoever draws them?
Another factor is playstyle. Colgate has scored in more ways than last season, but the Red Raiders are still one of college basketball’s elite outside shooting teams. As a team he scored a national best with 41.1% out of three.
Colgate has had ups and downs during non-league play while adjusting to the absence of last year’s scorer Nellie Cummings, who moved to Pittsburgh. Red his Raiders won at Syracuse by double digits, but also lost to the likes of Delaware, Buffalo and Cornell.
Since joining the Patriot League, Colgate has been completely dominant.Red Raiders win the league six game. If you can avoid an upset against Lafayette in Wednesday’s Patriot League title game, you’re making someone’s life difficult a week from now.