As Conference Tournaments Heat Up, Who Are the Most Overrated Teams in the Country? (And Who Are the
[inline:clemson]Conference Tournament Week gets your blood pumping because you know Selection Sunday is only days away. It provides an opportunity for any good handicapper to analyze many teams over a short time frame, a must if you plan on succeeding in your NCAA pool. Here’s a look at which teams are coming into their tournaments too high and which other teams have the ability to steal the title. As a reference, here are links to the efficiency numbers and Ken Pomeroy ratings I mention continuously below.
Overrated: Florida State. It’s always an issue when a team with scoring problems gets in a tournament setting because every possession has more attention by both clubs. FSU is only the 8th most efficient offensive club in the conference, so the very real possibility exists of them being unable to make a basket when they need it in a close game.
Sleeper: Clemson. We’re used to Clemson floundering towards the end of the season, but they’ve surprisingly held up with less talent than they’ve had in previous years. The Tigers have won five of seven including two wins over Florida State, they’re likely quarterfinal opponent. Their press is hard to prepare for in the limited time frame of a conference tournament, so there’s a good possibility the #6 seed (17th ranked in the country by Pomeroy) can pull off four wins in a row. Not a terrible option at plus-1200 if you’re a betting man.
Overrated: Pittsburgh. I’ve been saying it all year, but it’s worth repeating that this Pittsburgh team has to be one of the least talented, yet most productive teams in recent history. They have the hardest road to the finals because either of their first opponents (Notre Dame or Seton Hall) will be desperate for the win. Both teams have also beaten Pitt once already this season, so no mental edge exists. The Panthers’ efficiency margin is only a couple points higher than Notre Dame, so there really won’t be much room for error if they face the Fighting Irish.
Sleeper: Marquette. The Golden Eagles have overcome some poor luck early in the season that saw seven of their first eight losses coming by five points or less. The close games have gone in their favor recently, which is a testament to coach Buzz Williams’ ability to keep his team focused. The road to the finals will go through an enigmatic St. John’s, a defensively inept Villanova, and a possibly unmotivated Syracuse. Once they make the finals, anything can happen.
Overrated: Michigan St. I can’t tell you how annoying I find it listening to the masses clamor about how you have to be mindful of Tom Izzo’s greatness. It’s an overlying excuse to protect an extremely inconsistent squad. The great Izzo has led his team to a first weekend ousting in four of the last nine NCAA tournaments. That’s not exactly work Einstein would be proud of. Turnovers will kill this team sooner or later.
Sleeper: Wisconsin. How can the #13 team in the AP poll be a sleeper? Answer: When they finish one game back of a three-way-tie for the regular season title and garner less national attention than their counterparts. The #4-seeded Badgers have the best efficiency margin in the country and only finished outside the top three because of John Leuer’s mid-season injury. He’s back and they’re dangerous. Sportsbooks are giving them the same odds as MSU and OSU to win the title.
(Slightly) Overrated: Kansas State. There aren’t any glaring issues with any of the high seeds in the Big 12 tournament, so you’d have to lean towards K-State when pressed to make a decision. Their meltdown last week was hard to ignore. They still, however, have the pieces (good guards and athletic bigs) to do damage here and in the NCAAs.
Sleeper: Missouri. Although you can’t refer to a #3 seed like Baylor as a true sleeper, it’s worth noting the Bears are still not getting enough respect on the national radar. Instead I’ll prop up Missou, a team (in the shape of Clemson) whose pressure defense is hard to prepare for in a tournament format. They sit at plus-1500 to win by the books.
Overrated: Mississippi. The divisional structure of the standings presents lopsided match ups throughout the bracket. Miss St. could’ve found themselves here, but I like them a lot more than I like Ole Miss because of their defense and guard play. Ole Miss’s present for a first round bye? A likely game against Tennessee in the state of Tennessee. Justice is served.
Sleeper: Georgia. There honestly isn’t much to chose from. Georgia almost pulled the spoiler role last year and their side of the bracket is definitely weaker.
If you’re even watching this tournament I feel sorry for you. There are no overrated teams because none are perceived as good and there are no sleepers because the conference sucks this year. Use your time Saturday night to catch the Mountain West Conference final instead.
Overrated: St. Louis. With a gun to my head…
Sleeper: Rhode Island. Live and die by the three.
Overrated: UAB. Scoring problems plus tournament play = bad news.
Sleeper: Marshall. Better than you think.
Overrated: New Mexico. Not as good as their #8 ranking would make you think.
Sleeper: UNLV. O.K., they’re a #3 seed, but remember the tournament is in Las Vegas. “