NCAA Tournament Teams - Ones I Like, Ones I Don't

by Rogabee

March Madness has arrived!!!  It's that time of year again when we'll all get to filling out NCAA Brackets and the madness of March. 

This year is perhaps one of the biggest challenges I've seen for later rounds perhaps ever.  In my opinion, there isn't a team out there without a major flaw (yes, including Kentucky), so it won't be as easy as it was a few years back when it was as simple as plugging UNC and the Illini into the title, which I think I followed half of America in doing.  It wouldn't surprise me to see any team gone before the Sweet 16 this season.  That being said, I might as well try my like/don't like column.

Teams I like:

1.  UNC.  The preseason favorite, I think they're the second most talented team in the field behind only Baylor (yes, Baylor).  I think they're peaking right now, and they're my favorite to win it all.

2.  Seton Hall, if they make it.  No, I don't really like the Hall or even think they should be in the tourney.  However, if they make it in I do expect a run of at least one, perhaps two games.  Why?  Well, they play a style suited for the NCAA tournament that teams like Northern Iowa used last year for success - they have a quick penetration-style PG, defend well and consistently, have a strong big guy inside, and don't overly rely on the three.

3.  Memphis.  This is because I think the public is underrating Memphis, who I think is a top 15-20 team in the country.  If they get the 7 seed that they're expected to get, I fully expect them to win a game and with the right matchup 2 games.

4.  SLU.  We know the story there already as Dukes fans.

5.  UNLV.  Note where all but one their losses have come at...at Wichita St, at Whisky, at SDSU, at TCU, at New Mexico, at Wyoming, at Colorado St.  They won't have to deal with those types of hostile environments in NCAA play.  Their only other loss was in the tourney to New Mexico.

6.  Wichita St.  Earlier I mentioned about VCU's CBI run possibly leading to an NCAA run.  I'm beginning to suspect Wichita St's NIT run may very well do the same.  They rebound well, shoot well (despite their streaks shooting they're amazingly good overall).  I see them as a S16/E8 type of team.

7.  VCU, depending on seeding.  Shaka Smart has his team playing very well right now, and they play a high variance system that they can beat some very good teams with by relying heavily on the three.  Unfortunately, they could also die in round one by the three.

8.  New Mexico.  Another MWC team that I think is an extremely good team that can compete with literally anyone in the country that not enough people are giving credit to because they play in the MWC.

Teams I don't like:

1.  San Diego St.  They're #2 in the luck column done by Greenfield, #37 in luck by Pomeroy.  I haven't liked SDSU's style that much from the start, and have thought they aren't that good but just getting lucky myself before I looked up the stats for a team expected to be in the 7 seed range or so.  I think there's teams that have better talent than SDSU that won't dance.

2.  Syracuse.  No team has been ranked as low in defensive rebounds and has ever won an NCAA game.  Now, I'm not going as far as to say they won't win a tourney game or two (or 5), but we know how much defensive rebounding means here at DU, and I expect it to eventually come back to haunt the Cuse.  Also note that a quick glance has the Cuse scoring less than 1 point per possession in 5 games this year, with the Cuse winning four of those games.  Don't expect to win a tourney game with those types of offensive numbers.  Lastly, the Cuse are getting 21 ppg off of turnovers, and in NCAA play teams have a tendency to take care of the ball better.  If the Cuse get a bad matchup for their second game, I could see them going home early.

3.  Notre Dame.  I see them as last year's same type of team - one that got blown out in the second round by Florida State. 

4.  Indiana.  I see them as a team that doesn't defend very well, can't rebound, and can't force a ton of turnovers.  Unfortunately, you can't outscore teams come dance time.  I expect at most one win from the Hoosiers, and if they get a disciplined team in their first game I'm calling for an upset.

5.  Southern Miss.  Don't be fooled by the 25-8 record.  They are in 200th or worse in pretty much every major defensive category except defensive rebounding.  Combine that with a team that doesn't pass the ball well, is 313th in the country in 2 point shooting percent and 271st in total shooting percent, and I have strong doubts they can win a game.

6.  Colorado St, presuming they make it.  IMO they're a team solely living off of the rest of the MWC's good OOC season and will ride a 9-7 mark to get in but do nothing of note.  Their best road/neutral win is at #146 UTEP.  Sorry, but if you can't beat even one top 100 team on the road, there's an immediate red flag, especially if your SOS is #5 in the country, which it was for Colorado State.  Similarly to Southern Miss, they are 200th or worse in opponents FG%, opp 3 point %, turnovers forced, and other defensive metrics.

(Note:  Just because I like Seton Hall and hate Cuse doesn't mean I'm taking SHU further.  I just meant it for their respective seeds.)