Our college basketball analyst provides us with four sleepers to keep an eye on pertaining to the upcoming 2015 NCAA Tournament. Join us in reading this very insightful preview article that details why he likes each of these teams.
Perception of a Sleeper
The casual observer would consider a sleeper to be a team from a mid-major conference, and capable of pulling off an unexpected upset in their first round game of the NCAA Tournament. History will show that when that has occurred, the majority of instances have seen that team lose the following game. There are exceptions to the rule as with any historical data pertaining to sports betting. Recent examples are Butler who advanced to two consecutive championship game appearances. The VCU Rams advancing to the “Final Four”. Then there was last season’s Dayton Flyers who unexpectedly advanced all the way to the “Elite Eight”. Although each of those teams is fresh in the memory banks, NCAA Tournament lore clearly indicates that those cases are more of a rarity than the norm.
Sleepers with a Realistic Chance
I’m going to be focusing on four sleeper teams that have a realistic chance of advancing deep in the tournament. All of these teams are from power conferences. However, each of those clubs is projected to be lower seeds. History has shown me that these types of teams fly under the radar, and realistically have the best chances of advancing further in the NCAA tournament than expected. As a result, you can attain some pretty attractive NCAA Basketball odds, not only for one of those teams to win it all, but also to win a Regional title.
SMU Mustangs (24-6)
The SMU Mustangs are projected to be somewhere around a #6 seed for the NCAA Tournament. SMU won the American Athletic Conference regular season title. The Mustangs are 24-6 and don’t have any bad losses on their resume. They suffered defeats at the hands of Cincinnati twice, Connecticut, Arkansas, Gonzaga, and Indiana. Those five teams have combined to go 112-43 (.723) this season, and in all likelihood, each of those clubs will be participating in the 2015 “Big Dance”. SMU is #17 nationally in field goal percentage offense (48.4%), #10 in field goal percentage defense (38.2%), and #17 in rebound per game differential (+6.5). The Mustangs veteran head coach Larry Brown has been there and done that. He led the Kansas Jayhawks to the 1988 national championship, and was the head man at UCLA when they were defeated in the 1980 NCAA title game by Louisville.
Michigan State (21-10)
It’s difficult to say Michigan State and sleeper in the same sentence. After all, this is a program which has made six “Final Four” Appearances since 1999, won the national championship in 2000, and all of those came under the guidance of current head coach Tom Izzo. The Spartans team has come a long way since being upset at home by none other than Texas Southern early in the season. You can certainly make a case that they’re one of the more improved teams in the country since the start of the year. As of this moment, they’re projected to be a #7 seed in one of the four regions. They shoot the ball extremely well, hold opponents to less than 40% shooting from the field, and are one of the best rebounding teams in the nation which is a good reason to back them with your NCAA Basketball Picks. There won’t be a lot of teams that will look forward to facing the Spartans come tournament time.
The Tigers are projected to be a #10 seed come NCAA Tournament time. This team has a lot more talent, and is far more dangerous, than their record suggests. They’ve been plagued by inconsistency this season. However, when they’re clicking on all cylinders, they’re capable of beating anyone, and that includes Kentucky. By the way, in their only meeting of the season versus the undefeated and top ranked team, the Tigers were defeated by a narrow two point margin.
The Boilermakers started the season 11-8, including home losses at the hands of Gardner-Webb and North Florida. The prospects of reaching the NCAA Tournament were looking pretty grim at that point. However, the Boilermakers rebounded to go 9-3 the rest of the way. Those three losses were by a combined total of just fourteen points. The Boilermakers are a terrific rebounding team, and are very balanced with six players averaging 7.9 points or more per game. If they’re placed in a favorable region, they definitely can make some noise, if their play resembles the form they displayed down the final stretch of the regular season.