March Madness: 6 Struggling Teams Entering the NCAA Tournament
For the 68 teams who have clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament, heading into March playing their best basketball is obviously the best-case scenario. Not all teams dancing this week are so lucky, though.
The six teams below have had a tough time playing at the high level that got them into tournament consideration to being with. They'll have to shake off the rust quickly before their respective quests for a championship begins.
Baylor Bears - 3 Seed, East Region
The Baylor Bears the highest seeded team riding the struggle bus into March.
They've dropped four of their last seven games and are currently in the midst a three-game NCAA Tournament losing streak dating back to their Sweet 16 exit in 2014 (lost in the First Round as a 3 seed in 2015 and a 5 seed in 2016). Other than a solid home win against West Virginia, Baylor's other victories during this run were over teams who did not make the tournament.
Their early exit in the Big 12 tournament to Kansas State cost the Bears a shot at adding to their resume and ultimately landed them with a 3 seed.
Virginia Cavaliers - 5 Seed, East Region
The Virginia Cavaliers' struggles have been much publicized thanks to an offensive funk that's led to losing five of their last nine. While they're more well known for their defense, it has not been strong enough to overcome averaging 60.6 points per game during this stretch (6 points below an average that already ranks 313th in the country).
To be fair, all five of Virginia's losses have been to tournament teams, but that is the level of competition they will be playing from here on out. Adding to the severity of this drought, three of the Cavaliers' four wins since February 12th have been against ACC cellar dwellers Pittsburgh and North Carolina State.
South Carolina Gamecocks - 7 Seed, East Region
The South Carolina Gamecocks are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004, but they are limping into the postseason.
This squad has dropped five of their last seven games dating back to February 15th and have lost their last three against NCAA Tournament teams. A big part of their struggles have been due to issues on defense.
South Carolina ranks fourth in the country in defensive rating, but they are allowing nearly 10 points more than their season average over the last seven games. The Gamecocks look to take advantage of some home cooking, as their first round site in Greenville, South Carolina is less than 100 miles from campus.
Maryland Terrapins - 6 Seed, West Region and Xavier Musketeers - 11 Seed, West Region
The Terps have dropped four of six since their 22-4 start and didn't do themselves any favors by losing in the first round of the Big Ten tournament to Northwestern. Their only wins since February 15th have been a three-point home victory against Michigan State, who is dealing with their own struggles, and against downtrodden Rutgers.
Xavier is 6-7 since the loss of point guard Edmond Sumner for the year due to an ACL injury, but most of those wins came in the wake of that news. Dating back to February 11th, the Musketeers have dropped 7 of 10, with 2 of those wins were against DePaul.
USC Trojans - 11 Seed, East Region
Despite their 24-9 record, Southern California Trojans sneaked into the Tournament as one of the last four in and will play Providence Wednesday night. The Trojans have lost five of eight since February 11th, but it is hard to find any middle ground in their opponents.
Four of those five losses have been against the top three teams in the Pac-12, UCLA, Oregon, and Arizona. Their three wins during this time have been against two of the three bottom teams in the league (Washington and Washington State). If USC makes it past Providence, the committee did them no favors in having to face SMU, who has only lost twice since USC knocked them off in late November.