What's the difference between overrated and over-seeded? Join us for free NCAA basketball picks regarding overrated teams in this year's tournament, and a couple of dark horses.
Count me among those who doesn't get too upset about the 68 teams that the Selection Committee puts into the NCAA Men's Tournament each year. Granted, my Field of 68 would be a little different, but there are probably 10 million other combinations if you asked college basketball bettors and fans.
Plus, like Kentucky head coach John Calipari said on Sunday, "It's a moving target," with reference to the committee's criteria from one season to the next.
Syracuse is one team that many folks don't believe should be in this year's tournament, and I have to admit to being a bit surprised to see the Orange make it. Still, 'Cuse going means Joe Lunardi got all worked up and pompous, and he's a funny little guy to watch and listen to when that happens.
Red Raiders, Hawkeyes Among Overrated Teams In Event
Where I believe the selection committee got Syracuse wrong was in seeding the Orange 10th. That's the same level as they seeded Pittsburgh, a bit of a slap in the face to the Panthers who beat Syracuse three times. If anything, Jim Boeheim's bunch should've been in one of the play-in games as an 11-seed, possibly in place of Tulsa.
Does over-seeded mean the same thing as overrated, though? Not to me, it doesn't, and one of my NCAA tournament picks as both an overrated and over-seeded team in this year's tourney is Texas Tech. Sure, the red Raiders had that 3-game streak when they beat Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma, but Tubby's troops lost to every other ranked team then bowed out in the Big 12 Tournament by losing to TCU, a team that won just one other league game all year.
Butler may have only beaten one ranked team once all season, and I'm still liking the Bulldogs Thursday against Tech in Raleigh as -3½ point chalk on the NCAA tournament odds.
I was diggin' on the job Fran McCaffery and Iowa was doing early on the Big Ten schedule, especially when they beat Michigan State twice as part of a 7-0 launch to the conference campaign. Even a slight hiccup at Maryland didn't look bad after the Hawkeyes won their next three. There hasn't been much to be happy about since, Iowa dropping six of eight entering the Big Dance, including to Illinois in the the B1G Tournament this past week. The Hawkeyes have to play an always-pesky bunch in Temple this Friday, and a play on the Owls +7½ might be in order.
Who Will Be This Year's Cinderella?
I touched on the 2008 Final Four which was the only one to have all four No. 1 seeds make it in my piece on Point of Elimination Odds earlier, but one of my favorite NCAA Tournaments was 2011 when no No. 1 seeds made it to the last foursome. That Final Four featured Butler, an 8-seed, and VCU, the Rams seeded 11th and part of the First Four process.
I like both 11-seeds in one of the First Four games this time, Vanderbilt and Wichita State. The Commodores disappointed me last week in the SEC Tournament, especially since they were playing at home in Nashville, but I could see them making it to the Elite Eight. The Shockers went to the Final Four as a 9-seed in 2013, and could also make it at least to the Elite Eight this time.
One of the most interesting games this Saturday should be top-ranked Kansas against No. 9 seed Connecticut. The Huskies always seem to turn it up a notch this time of year, and are coming off three impressive games to win the AAC title a few days ago. I'm thinking Bill Self and the Jayhawks will be rooting for Colorado against UConn this Thursday.