March Madness: The 10 Most Overrated Teams in the 2023 NCAA Tournament

It's always tough to step back and examine the 68 teams good enough to make the NCAA Tournament and then pinpoint which of them are not as good as perception, but when we're building our brackets, we have to discuss some hard truths.

We know that not all 5 seeds, for example, are equally good, and figuring out which teams don't really live up to their seeds will help us build better brackets and identify upset opportunities.

So I compared each tournament team's nERD score -- the point differential that our algorithm would expect a team to beat (or lose to) an average team by on a neutral court -- to the historical average nERD of their granted seed. This will let us see, for example, which 5 seeds aren't as strong as the historical 5 seeds.

To keep this as impactful as possible, I'll shed the 11 seeds and worse from the conversation.

Not all of these teams are drastically overrated, necessarily, but they have the largest gaps versus the historical seed average. And that's not to say that any of these teams are bad. Just likely over-seeded.

10. Duke Blue Devils (5 Seed, East)

nERD: 11.69
nERD vs. Seed Average: -1.59

The Duke Blue Devils got off to a fine start under new coach Jon Scheyer before struggling in conference play. They righted the ship and are entering the tournament with much better form than they had at the beginning of the season. They're 9-1 over their past 10 games, as well, including a nine-game winning streak.

So, if we look solely at their recent play, they're probably right on track as a 5 seed.

For those looking for reasons to find Duke overrated, they were lucky in five-point games (7-2) and were just 5-6 against Quad 1 opponents.

9. Xavier Musketeers (3 Seed, Midwest)

nERD: 12.87
nERD vs. Seed Average: -1.70

Xavier is a bit overseeded and is more like a historical 5 seed than a 3 seed, yet there are reasons to like them, too.

They were 9-6 in Quad 1 games and boast a top-10 adjusted offense, via BartTorvik.

On the flip side, they were also 9-6 in games decided by five points or fewer, and the 15 close games were the second-most of any tournament team (only the Grand Canyon Antelopes had more with 18). You might want to see more separation from a team ranked as high as a 3 seed.

Some overall luck and a defense that is good but not great make the Musketeers statistically overrated as a 3 seed.

8. Indiana Hoosiers (4 Seed, Midwest)

nERD: 11.56
nERD vs. Seed Average: -2.52

A nerd of 11.56 has the Indiana Hoosiers ranked 28th in our power rankings. They're 30th at KenPom and 33rd at BartTorvik, so they definitely need to be addressed here as a 4 seed.

Indiana's nERD is almost exactly the nERD of the historical 7 seed (11.54), and they were able to climb the bracket by flashing a lot of potential. BartTorvik ranks them 4th in the nation in talent rating, which accounts for recruiting grades and minutes played. Trayce Jackson-Davis and company can definitely make a run.

However, while they finished the year 22-11, they were 15-2 at home, 5-7 on the road, and only 6-9 against Quad 1 opponents.

7. Marquette Golden Eagles (2 Seed, East)

nERD: 13.80
nERD vs. Seed Average: -2.56

You'd think that the Marquette Golden Eagles, a 2 seed, would be somewhere in the top 10 of all the power rankings sites -- but they're not.

numberFire's and KenPom's models rank them 12th, and BartTorvik's data has the Golden Eagles 13th. Their nERD score puts them more in the 4-seed range than in the 2-seed range.

An 8-5 Quad 1 record with wins over Baylor, Connecticut, Xavier, and Creighton is nothing to gloss over. It's important to reiterate that the teams highlighted here aren't bad. They're just over-seeded.

6. Kansas State Wildcats (3 Seed, East)

nERD: 11.99
nERD vs. Seed Average: -2.58

The high-water mark for the Kansas State Wildcats across the power rankings at numberFire (22nd), KenPom (24th), and BartTorvik (24th) has them outside the top 20 let alone inside the top-12 (which is where we'd think all 3 seeds would land in a perfect world).

The Wildcats have a borderline top-60 offense with a defense that's inside the top 20, a combination that's fine for an eventual champion. But because they're sitting outside the top 20 in nERD, we can question their legitimacy as this year's future champion.

They do rank tied for seventh in the nation with nine Quad 1 wins -- but that comes from volume, as they have had 17 Quad 1 games.

5. Missouri Tigers (7 Seed, South)

nERD: 8.89
nERD vs. Seed Average: -2.65

The good for the 26-9 Missouri Tigers: their only losses were all against Quad 1 opponents.

The bad for the 26-9 Missouri Tigers: they were just 6-9 against Quad 1 opponents.

They don't crack the top 50 in any of the three power rankings sites referenced here, and they're a legitimate question mark on defense (29th percentile).

An elite offense (96th percentile) makes them dangerous, yet they're more similar to a historical 11 or even 12 seed due to overall efficiency.

4. Purdue Boilermakers (1 Seed, East)

nERD: 15.54
nERD vs. Seed Average: -3.36

Based on seed averages, this is the second-worst crop of 1 seeds since 2000 and the worst since 2006 (which had an average 1 seed nERD of 16.80). This year, it's 16.94.

Therefore, we can deduce that it's not just the Purdue Boilermakers who are a bit overrated by nERD. We'll get there.

As for Purdue, they've got the pieces -- including 7'4" center Zach Edey -- to make a legitimate run to the Final Four. But they're also playing worse down the stretch than they did during the early part of the season.

Ranked eighth in nERD, Purdue is a very viable 1 seed, but it is interesting to see their profile win out over some other squads in their tier.

3. Kansas Jayhawks (1 Seed, West)

nERD: 15.34
nERD vs. Seed Average: -3.56

The Kansas Jayhawks are 10th in nERD and are, therefore, a bit more overrated than Purdue is, but combined, they are some of the weakest 1 seeds in the tournament since 2000.

Across 23 years since 2000, Kansas is the fifth-worst 1 seed out of 92 teams by nERD.

Squads with a lower nERD to draw a 1 seed:

- 2004 Stanford Cardinal (14.88 nERD): Lost to 8 seed Alabama Crimson Tide in the second round
- 2003 Oklahoma Sooners (14.91): Lost to 3 seed Syracuse Orange in the Elite Eight
- 2018 Xavier Bulldogs (14.94): Lost to 9 seed Florida State Seminoles in the second round
- 2016 Oregon Ducks (15.01): Lost to 2 seed Oklahoma Sooners in the Elite Eight

2. Miami Hurricanes (5 Seed, Midwest)

nERD: 9.67
nERD vs. Seed Average: -3.61

The 42nd-ranked Miami (FL) Hurricanes happened to draw the 5 seed in the Midwest region despite a nERD score that is historically equivalent to that of an 11 seed (9.49).

They churned out 7 wins in 11 five-point games and looked like a strong overall team down the stretch before running into Duke in the ACC tournament (losing 85-78).

A hot offense can mask their defensive issues, so they're a dangerous team. They're also a little riskier than we may like to see from a 5 seed.

1. Virginia Cavaliers (4 Seed, South)

nERD: 10.42
nERD vs. Seed Average: -3.66

A team ranked 35th at numberFire, 34th at KenPom, and 32nd at BartTorvik drawing a 4 seed? What gives?

The Virginia Cavaliers were 5-5 in Quad 1 games and own an offense that's a borderline top-70 unit. Their nERD historically puts them in the 10-seed range.

They've also got the weakest opponent-adjusted point differential mark over their final 10 games of any single-digit seed.

So, it's clear that the committee likes what the potential is for the Cavaliers, but as far as the results, they're not on par with a typical 4 seed.