Bracket Killers: Four Over-Seeded Teams in the NCAA Tournament
It's not their fault that they've been overrated, but it's probably going to force college basketball fans to pick against them in their office pools. They're bracket killers, and they're shoot you down before you even get off the ground.
A few weeks ago, I analyzed five of the most overrated teams in college hoops - squads that were ranked high according to the AP Top 25 poll, but, based on our nERD metric, weren't nearly as good as their ranking indicated. Soon after the article published, the number one ranked team, Saint Louis, lost to a middling Duquesne team which started a downward spiral to their season. Syracuse was on the list too, and the next day, they lost to a bad Georgia Tech team at home on senior night. They've gone 2-5 since the article published.
I'm not saying that being talked about in an overrated-themed article on numberFire is a death sentence though. Wichita State, who is actually listed below again, still went undefeated this season. And Cincinnati and Florida didn't hit many road blocks, either.
But 40 percent isn't bad, especially when talking about some of the better teams in the country. So let's do the exercise again, but this time we'll look at four teams that the committee over-seeded in this year's Big Dance.
Colorado has a tough first round (second round if you want to be politically correct) matchup against our 19th-best team in terms of nERD, Pittsburgh, but the Buffaloes probably shouldn't have been so highly seeded (8 seed) in the first place. It's not to say they're a bad team - losing starter and leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie in January to a torn ACL didn't help the team's chances to do much this year. Let's give them credit, at least, for still making the tournament.
But it's obvious they're not the same team as they once were. Since Dinwiddie's injury, Colorado has gone just 9-8, getting blown out in important games against teams like UCLA and Arizona. In total, the team ranks 52nd according to our nERD metric, and both the offense and defense is ranked out of the top 40 in efficiency.
Wichita State Shockers
It's tough to be the Shockers - a weak strength of schedule and few top 50 wins will make for plenty of skeptics. And as a result, the metrics aren't going to be in love, either.
They're a very good team, and did deserve a one seed in the NCAA Tournament this year. But being deserving doesn't necessarily equate to being a top-four squad, and that's where the overrated tag comes into play.
According to nERD, the Shockers are college basketball's 10th-best team, meaning we would've picked six other schools ahead of them, wins aside, as a region's top seed. They play solid defense, ranking 12th in the country, but the offense lacks a little more, ranking 27th. They could be outscored in a region that features Duke (number two team in the country in offensive efficiency) and Michigan (number three).
Wichita State has arguably the toughest road to the Final Four, so this overrated title will look either really smart or really dumb. We'll see.
Our bracketology numbers had UMass as a six seed, which they ended up getting, but that was only based on what the selection committee looks for. Massachusetts, in the end, is more like a 10 or 11 seed.
Losing to George Washington in the Atlantic 10's quarterfinal, UMass three of their final five games, only beating Duquesne and Rhode Island. They rank 89th in the country in offensive efficiency, and an above average 38th on the defensive side of the ball. But in total, we'd expect them to beat an average team on a neutral court by 9.8 points, which is the 46th-best margin in the country. They could have some trouble with the Round 1 winner between Tennessee and Iowa.
Saint Louis Billikens
Hey, guess what? Saint Louis is still overrated!
While they didn't get a three seed like their AP rank indicated they'd snag just three weeks ago, the Billikens are a five seed in this year's tournament, when we expected them to be a seven.
The Atlantic 10 squad can play defense, ranking ninth in college basketball in defensive rating. But offensively, the team ranked 143rd in the nation, behind teams like Wyoming and Ohio.
To make matters worse, that solid defense hasn't showed up lately. They've averaged 61.2 points allowed per game this year, but over their final five games of the season, their opponents have outscored that mark. As a result, the Billikens ended their year 1-4, with bad losses to Duquesne and St. Bonaventure.