March 21, 2023
5 Squads In Danger Of Breaking Brackets With Early NCAA Tournament Exits

5 Squads In Danger Of Breaking Brackets With Early NCAA Tournament Exits

Today’s March Madness task is to find some tall seeds that could be on surprise alert in the first round. Take out your parentheses and let’s discuss some teams in potential danger.

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Marquette, No. 2 seed in East region

Marquette took over from Creighton in the Big East, cruising to the league title. Head coach Shaka Smart will need a new trophy case to house all of his end-of-season awards. But Marquette is a curiously small 10.5-point favorite over Vermont; the betting public has been in every Catamounts since this game opened. Vermont has the kind of thing you want to see from a live underdog: It’s a low-rotation team, the roster is experienced, and the team is in good shape, racking up 15 straight wins to enter the tournament. The NCAA tournament isn’t news to Vermont either; the Cats have made nine trips in the past two decades. I will take the points, and a surprise would not surprise me.

No. 2 seed Marquette shouldn’t overlook Vermont despite being a double-digit favorite. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Virginia, seed No. 4 in the South region

Although Virginia is a No. 4 seed, he is only a 5.5-point favorite over Furman. The Cavaliers play at a slow pace; they rarely run and are trained to avoid offensive backboards. And it’s not like Virginia’s half-court offense is humming. Furman is an efficient offensive team entering the tournament riding a 14-1 run. This game must be competitive for two hours.

Duke, seed No. 5 in the East

Full disclosure, I expect Duke to go deep in the tournament. It is the highest ranked team in the field and the nation’s best recruiting class has grown nicely after a slow take off. But the selection committee did Duke no favors in Round 1, sending Oral Roberts to a showdown on Thursday. Oral Roberts is in the mid-career with a star scorer (Max Abmas), an inside disruptor (7-foot-3 center Connor Vanover) and a March resume (this team made the Sweet 16 in 2021). The Golden Eagles won’t be intimidated just yet.

Miami, No. 5 seed in the Midwest region

We know that 5-12 matchups often lead to upsets, and Miami couldn’t be thrilled to attract a cohesive and experienced Drake team. Sophomore Tucker DeVries (playing for his dad, Darrian) is a star and is surrounded by four senior starters. Miami is concerned about interior ace Norchad Omier, who suffered an ankle injury early in last week’s loss to Duke. Miami is merely a 2.5-point favorite.

Creighton, seed No. 6 in the South region

Creighton has been a teasing show all year. Voted the Big East favorite, Creighton fell on a six-game losing streak in December and dropped out of the Top 20 entirely. The glass on the roster may be half full or half empty, depending on his point of view: Creighton has one of the top five starters in the nation, but gets very little production from his bench. North Carolina State takes excellent care of basketball and is one of the most experienced teams in the tournament. A good game of guard makes any underdog live delightfully; I’ll take NC State at +5.5 and explore the money line.

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