Most Overrated Teams of NCAA’s March Madness Tourney
National championship odds come courtesy of TopBet and are accurate as of Monday, March 12. Definitely make sure you’re double checking these lines before deciding on or placing a wager, as they can and will change frequently, both leading into the opening games and as the bracket unfolds.
Clemson, No. 5 Seed in Midwest (+15000)
Sturdy defensive teams are easy to like this time of year, and the Clemson Tigers are, in many respects, no exception. They finished the regular season placing 37th in the nation in points allowed per 100 possessions. Few teams do a better job of hassling shots inside the arc, and they have four regular rotation players who are averaging more than one block per 36 minutes.
Pretty much all of Clemson’s concerns lie at the offense end. They scored enough to grind out a top 100 ranking on the efficiency scale, but they’re a little weaker than that finish implies.
They do an alright job of generating and knocking down three-pointers, but they don’t get to the foul line with nearly enough regularity, and their ball movement is iffy at best. They’re more reliant on half-court isolations and the more-than-occasional set from the low block. That’s not going to cut it in a tournament setting. They’ll face better defenses, and they need to have at least a semblance of familiarity playing in transition or crashing the offensive glass.
Look, Clemson isn’t doomed. They have a ton of switchable defensive talent that should be able to wreak havoc early on. But FiveThirtyEight barely gives them a 60 percent chance of making it out from the first round—way-low odds for a team penciled in as a No. 5 seed.
TCU, No. 6 Seed in Midwest (+12500)
The TCU Horned Frogs—still one of the best team sobriquets out there—may, in fact, be the most overrated team in this year’s tournament.
Sure, they finished 15th in offensive efficiency during the regular season. That’s impressive. They drill 40 percent of their threes as a team, which is ridiculous, and they do a great job moving the ball in the half-court and making push-ahead passes after snaring a defensive rebound or forcing a turnover.
Still, the defense is a problem. A big one. They’re 254th in the nation when it comes to points allowed per 100 possessions and 321st in three-point prevention overall. They don’t foul a ton, which can be seen as a good sign in pressure-packed situations such as March Madness, but they’re simultaneously conservative and too risky. They don’t force a ton of turnovers, thus limiting their offensive appeal, and their off-ball alertness can only be categorized as underwhelming.
Most available statistical models give them roughly a 50 to 53 percent chance of making it past the first round, regardless of who they play, be it Arizona State or Syracuse. Chalk this up to a shoddy 9-9 conference record during the regular season. They’re only here, as a No. 6 seed, because of their 12-2 showing outside the Big 12.
Arkansas, No. 7 Seed in East (+15000)
How the Arkansas Razorbacks pulled a No. 7 seed is beyond us.
Don’t get this twisted: Arkansas can be good. They placed in the top 35 of points scored per 100 possessions on the regular season. Their two leading scorers, Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon, are both shooting better than 42 percent from deep.
The Razorbacks are hell to defend when they’re on the court together. The mere threat of their jumpers opens ups lanes and backdoor cuts for everyone else. Overall, they are the best three-point-shooting outfit in the nation, canning nearly 40 percent of their triples as a collective.
But this team doesn’t have the defense to succeed in the tournament. They placed 231st in points allowed per 100 possessions on the back of a variety of flaws. They send opponents to the free-throw line far too much. They don’t do a good enough job crashing the defensive glass. Their three-point contests are okay, but their most-used lineups don’t include a surfeit of switchable talent. That’s the risk you run when relying on two guards who stand under 6’4″.
FiveThirtyEight gives Arkansas less than a coin toss’ chance of getting past their first-round matchup with Butler. Do yourself a favor and avoid investing in them at every possible level.
Miami, No. 6 Seed in South (+15000)
Kudos to the Miami Hurricanes for piecing together one of the more balanced rosters and play styles this season. They rank inside the top 100 of both offensive and defensive efficiency, and they have a nice mix of wings, swingmen and bigs.
The primary issue for them is they continue to carry the burden of proof. They posted a mediocre 11-7 record in their conference and didn’t play one of the 50 most difficult schedules overall.
Miami’s slower pace of play also doesn’t bode well should they find themselves in an early hole. Again: They’re efficient on the offensive side. But they don’t get off a ton of shots. They prefer to control the speed and dictate possession volume. If they fall behind by double digits, they don’t have the requisite high-octane offensive talent to play themselves back into things.
Getting out of the first round even figures to be a chore. FiveThirtyEight gives them a 60 percent shot at superseding Loyola, and that feels like it’s on the generous end.
Missouri, No. 8 Seed in West (+4000)
Let’s not mince words: Many of you knew the Missouri Tigers were going to be here. Freshman sensation Michael Porter Jr. has returned early from a supposedly season-ending backing injury, and that’s left everyone aflutter, including sportsbooks, about their potential in this springtime shindig.
And hey! We get it. The Tigers were respectable without Porter, who’s still considered one of the five best NBA prospects when healthy. They rank inside the top 105 of both points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, which is no small feat given they were missing someone who projected to be one of, if not the absolute best player in the nation.
But we cannot get carried away. Porter has appeared in just two games. He’s shooting under 34 percent from the floor while averaging a ridiculous 28.8 shot attempts per 40 minutes.
Even when using him in moderate doses, it will take time for him to get his game legs about him and to integrate himself into the offense. And yet, the Tigers aren’t about to marginalize his role in the offense. He’s supposed to their best player. They’ll try milking him when he’s on the floor.
All of which makes for a treacherous foray into the tournament. FiveThirtyEight gives them just a 29 percent chance of beating the No. 9 seeded Florida State. And Missouri’s also laying borderline favorite odds with their +4000, it’s best to just stay away.
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