The Most Overrated Teams In The Tournament
Want to dominate your March Madness bracket? We've got you covered! We just launched our March Madness Helper section, featuring game projections, detailed game-by-game breakdowns, and advice from the experts. You don't have to worry if we're legit - our bracket finished in the top 0.5% of all brackets nationwide last year. So check it out for free now!
You've pored over your bracket a hundred times by now, no doubt. Are the matchups going to change? Will Florida-Gulf Coast suddenly turn into a powerhouse overnight? Probably not. But you're still second, third, and perhaps even fourth-guessing, aren't you?
Maybe you'd like to know what teams are overrated, the teams whose seeds don't fit their statistical profile. Good news, my friend! The computers have smiled upon you this day; today we are here to expose the frauds and perhaps save you from too much faith in these paper champions.
I want to like the Golden Eagles, I really do. They're from a great sports town in Milwaukee, they've hung around forever as the classic pretty good that could never reach the next level (see also: Pittsburgh, "Parks And Recreation", Val Kilmer's acting career between 1985-1995), but I'm afraid I'm going to have to put my foot down this year. They've flipped the script on me; they've won the regular season Big East with their worst team in years. You bastards.
Here's the bottom line: they're No. 108 in defensive efficiency and No. 52 in offensive efficiency. Here is a sampling of teams with better defense: Seattle (who went 8-22!), South Alabama, UC-Irvine, Charleston Southern, Wagner, Coastal Carolina, and Eastern Michigan. Yikes.
Combine that with a team that has been there before and also happens to have a superior statistical profile in Davidson (No. 16 offense, No. 73 defense), and you've got a recipe for some carnage. I'm not saying we're recommending it per se, but don't think it won't happen.
Okay, I'm going to get some personal bias out of the way first. I have an ax to grind with UNLV, and more directly, Khem Birch. You see, Khem was supposed to be the next in line of skilled, yet tough forwards for Pitt who play Dixon's defensively-sound, rough-and-tumble style all the way to the NBA. Instead, he whined and complained about coming off the bench as a freshman - just like DeJuan Blair did, for example - and quit the team midseason to go to UNLV... where he comes off the bench.
So basically, screw Khem Birch. Says me, of course, not the computer.
What the computer does does say, however, is that UNLV is overrated. Overrated all the way to the bank even! For someone who didn't like to play defense and wanted to play a run-and-gun style, Khem sure picked an odd team; they may run (58th in pace, a measure of how fast a team plays) but they certainly don't gun, ranking just No. 113 in offensive efficiency.
Fortunately for UNLV, they've got the easiest 5-12 matchup of them all in the form of a creampuff California team. Sometimes I wonder just what the seeding committee is looking at... but that's an article for another day.
Ah, I can't help myself! If I'm going to complain about how overrated UNLV is and then make reference to how easy their first-round game is, I'm going to have to go after the Bears too, right? What's going on out West that is causing this?
Maybe it's because the Pac-12 is soft: Sagarin has them sixth overall as a conference, barely ahead of the SEC and their non-Florida dregs. After all, Oregon got no respect for winning the conference, right? Maybe it's because they're overshadowed by the Mountain West on one side and Gonzaga on the other.
Or maybe it's simply because the Golden Bears aren't very good. Greg, let's go to the numbers! Offense? No. 164. Defense? No. 101.
Yeah, no. This doesn't fit the profile of a team that should be in any tournament not acronymized as "CBI". Stay away. Far away. Don't even cross the Rockies, unless you're going to Spokane. There's no good basketball to be found.
In a lot of ways, Notre Dame is a team that is built for the Big East. They play ploddingly slow (No. 317) and they're excruciatingly inconsistent, yet they have a strong offensive efficiency simply by setting up and taking good shots. They do have one weakness though - an odd one, given their conference - and that is their defense, which ranks No. 148.
Let's build this narrative, shall we? They play slow and are very boom-bust, scoring almost every time down the court when they're on and shooting colder than Jason Kidd in a freezer when they're off. Oh, and also, they can't stop anyone. Doesn't sound like a great storyline, does it?
For my money, their matchup was a great opportunity to pit them against their polar opposite: a fast mid-major that runs and guns, one that perhaps isn't the best offensively in the half-court but creates off of turnovers and pressures the ball all over the court. Oh, Northwestern State, you would have been perfect! Instead they get Iowa State in one of the more boring matchups of the first slate. Yeah, they run and yeah, their fans are great and props to Hoiberg for coming back, but come on. Iowa State is the to Big 12 what Boston College is to the ACC. No one cares.
Before I get into trouble with the fifteen Cyclones fans that have Internet, let me go back to Notre Dame - they're lucky to have their No. 7 seed. This however puts them in a pod with No. 2 Ohio State, and, well, let's leave it at that.