Teams to Watch for this Years’ March Madness
Teams to watch for as March Madness approaches…
March 9, 2013
In the last couple of years, in just about every NCAA tournament, a couple of higher-seeded, unranked college basketball teams make deep runs. Last year in the Midwest Regional semifinals (Sweet 16), No. 1 seed North Carolina faced No. 13 seed Ohio. Meanwhile, No. 2 seed Kansas lined up against No. 11 seed NC State.
There is no reason to believe that this year will be different.
Here are five unranked teams, according to AP poll, that are looming as March Madness approaches. They may have had some bumps in the road along the way, but these teams could be dangerous.
1. The Creighton Bluejays (23-7, 12-5 MVC) are a fun team to watch. They share the ball and shoot it well, and they score lots of points (75.8 per game). Primarily because they have Doug McDermott, who gives them the ability to stretch the floor and beat you in a wide variety of ways. The Bluejays have defeated good teams, like Wisconsin and Cal, and lost to some marginal ones, like Drake and Illinois State.
If you like gritty, in-your-face D that leads to lots of open-court hoops action, then the Rams are your kind of team. Because Shaka Smart’s squad applies relentless pressure, the Rams lead the nation in steals (12.1 per game). VCU likes to push the ball when the opportunity arises. It scores 77.4 points per game (No. 14 in the country). In his first three years, Smart has led the Rams to the Final Four and the Sweet 16. He and his team won’t be scared if they get deep into this year’s tournament.
3. Keep your eyes on Wichita State. The Shockers, currently 24-6 (12-5 MVC), are tied with Creighton for the Missouri Valley Conference lead. WSU gets it done with menacing defense. It is holding its opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field and fewer than 60 points. Gregg Marshall may be one of the best mid-major head coaches in college basketball.
4. Virginia has created a notable collection of quality wins in the ACC… Duke, North Carolina and NC State in ACC play. They also took down Wisconsin in Madison, which is no small feat. Defense is the name of their game. They are holding opponents under 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc—a combination that usually leads to success. Sweet-shooting Joe Harris is making a serious case to be named ACC Player of the Year. The 6’6” wing is averaging 24 points per game over the Cavaliers’ past five games.
5. And in our final team to watch, let’s go West…. UCLA!
Shabazz Muhammad and the Bruins shouldn’t be taken for granted. Muhammad has the kind of offensive skills that could help him take over upcoming March Madness games. If I were Bruins coach Ben Howland, I would find a way to get Muhammad no fewer than 20 shots per game and see what would happen.
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