The 10 Worst At-Large Teams in the NCAA Tournament
We all know the story by now.
Each year, certain teams sneak into the NCAA Tournament's field of 68 teams that may not exactly deserve to be there. Some teams get snubbed as a result. This year, no matter how you feel, the bracket shapes up well from an analytics standpoint.
Based on our nERD metric, which indicates expected point differential against an average opponent on a neutral court, each and every at-large team (all 36) ranked inside the top 73 in the country. That means that the extra bids granted to the nonautomatic qualifiers all went to a top-75 squad. Not bad.
However, that doesn't mean every at-large team is great by any means, and this is a look at the bottom of the barrel of the nonautomatic bids.
10. Virginia Commonwealth Rams
nERD: 10.33 (42nd Nationally)
The VCU Rams notched a 25-7 record this season and offer up one of the stoutest defenses in the nation (99th percentile, per our metrics). They do boast a below-average offense (47th percentile), though. Despite appearing on the list, they're still a top-45 team in the nation according to nERD. VCU is nearly a point worse than the average 8 seed since 2000 but feature a standout sophomore forward in Marcus Santos-Silva. Santos-Silva ranks top-four in both defensive rating and offensive rebounding rate in the nation among qualified players. Our algorithm gives VCU a 3.48% chance to reach the Sweet 16.
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