As we get closer to March, Joe Lunardi’s brackets go from complete predictions to a reliable make up of what the field may look like. Every college basketball fan gets excited with the release of a new bracket, and Lunardi’s latest installment is pretty interesting. I’m going to break down the bracket and tell you who I think is getting too much love, and who isn’t getting enough.
Teams That Are Too High
Kansas (#2 in the Midwest)
Although they might only have three losses, and their resume as of now might represent a two seed, this Kansas Jayhawks team is not a two seed. One issue is that they live and die on the shooting of Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte Graham, if those two aren’t shooting the three well, the offense becomes very stagnant. Lagerald Vick was scoring the ball really well early in the season, but has slowed down in conference play, and for a guy as talented as Malik Newman, he is way too inconsistent on the offensive end. But their main issue is the lack of depth. All of their starters average double figures, but no one off the bench averages more than four points per game. As we know, depth is very key in the tournament. The season is a long grind, a five man team isn’t built to go the distance come March.
Clemson (#4 in the Midwest)
The Tigers have the same lack of depth problem the Jayhawks have, except they don’t have five potential NBA players in their starting lineup. Clemson is still living off an early season win against Ohio State which looks really good now, but everyone knows Ohio State wasn’t the same team they are now. In their biggest conference test and latest matchup, they put up an astonishing 36 points as a team, including 13 in the second half. Since the tigers are ranked 300th in the country in offensive rebounding, they are usually one and done every time down the floor, meaning they don’t get many second chance opportunities . Clemson is a team with little depth and tournament experience, which is usually not the best combination for a team trying to make a run.
Texas A&M (#10 in the Midwest)
I know your reading this asking yourself how a 10 seed can be rated “too high” but it’s an absolute joke that the Aggies are still in the field. After peaking at #5 in the country, A&M has skidded to 2-6 in the SEC, which is second last in the conference only to Vanderbilt who is 7-13 overall. They have lost in double digits to Tennessee, Florida and LSU, and also lost by 22 to Alabama (without DJ Hogg). Watching them play against LSU on Tuesday was disgusting, they have no drive or sense of urgency despite being 2-5 in the conference at the time. They allowed Tremont Waters, one guy, to have nine steals, while turning the ball over 20 times as a team.
Teams That Need More Love
Marquette (#10 in the West)
The Golden Eagles are one of my favorite teams to watch just because of how dynamic they are on the offensive end. They are the only team with two players averaging 20 or more points per game in Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey. Rowsey has gone for 30 or more points four times this year while Howard has accomplished that five times, including a 52 point performance against Providence. The one issue is that Marquette doesn’t play a lot of defense, but with three players averaging three made three point field goals per game, they’ll go into a shootout with any team in the county.
Rhode Island (#10 in the West)
The longtime readers of this blog know I have been very high on Rhode Island for a while now. And I’m confident this is their year to make a run. They bring back their two leading scorers from last year in Jared Terrell and EC Matthews and fellow seniors Stanford Robinson and Andre Berry are both playing a bigger role this year, each averaging 10 points per game respectively. Sophomore Jeff Dowtin from St. John’s College High School (DC) has grown into the role of the efficient facilitator, averaging seven assists with one and half turnovers per game in conference play so far. The Rams take care of the ball as a team averaging just over 11 turnovers per game, which is 11th best in the nation. They also have the best three point defense in the country, which is key down the stretch because it always keeps the game in reach and doesn’t allow your opponent to go on huge quick runs. Rhode Island has only allowed 83 made three point field goals all season. Two division one players have more than that by themselves. Remember, this is a team that took Oregon down to the wire, they return most of the core from last year and are bound for a run in their final go around.
For now, I’m liking and agreeing with the rest of the placements in the latest bracket. With a lot of teams still figuring things out, creating a reasonable field of 68 is a very tough task, but these were just some teams that I really feel one way or another about. Be sure to keep up with Jakeinthepaint.com during the season for all kinds of basketball updates.