NCAA

NCAA Tournament 2017: Five No. 10 seeds or higher that can make the Sweet 16

NCAA Tournament 2017: Five No. 10 seeds or higher that can make the Sweet 16

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

There have been exactly 70 double digit seeds to make it to the Sweet 16 heading into this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Every single season, there is always one of the lower seeds that typically show their seeding means absolute squat.

In 2016 it was No. 10 Syracuse making it past the Sweet 16 into the Final Four.

2015 was No. 11 UCLA to the Sweet 16.

2014 was No. 11 Dayton.

2013 was No. 13 La Salle and No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast.

Bottom line, since 2007, the year 11 of the top 16 seeds made it to the regional semifinals, there has always been at least one double-digit seed to make it to the Sweet 16.

In 2017, a year that featured a strict bubble line and only five mid-major at-large teams, upsets might be hard to come by this tournament. There has been  a clear separation by the top teams in the NCAA and some of the best teams to pull out an upset will be playing each other. Underdogs may be few and far between, but there are five squads in particular that higher seeds should not take lightly.

-- No. 12 Middle Tennessee State

A common upset pick in the First Round, the Blue Raiders look to make another run this season but instead of a No. 15 seed they are now a No. 12 seed. It is rare to see but Middle Tennessee State has more NCAA experience that their opponent No. 5 Minnesota who had a program-defining year in the Big Ten.

Tournament favorites from last year Giddy Potts and Reggie Upsahaw return for Middle Tennessee but redshirt senior JaCorey Williams is the Blue Raider at the front of the charge. Minnesota though is no joke though as they finished fourth in the Big Ten regular season and were tournament runner-ups. Only one out of conference loss for the Golden Gophers this season and that was to Florida State.

If Middle Tennessee were to win in the first round, they will play the winner of No. 4 Butler and No. 13 Winthrop. Do not count on Winthrop pulling out the upset but Butler is one of the higher seeds that has had a shaky season.

-- No. 10 Wichita State

First, the Shockers should not even be on this list because they should not be a No. 10 seed. At the very least Wichita State deserved a No.7 or No. 6 seed after coming in ranked 21st in the country.

The Shockers will face the two of the toughest matchups if they were to make the Sweet 16 as they play No. 7 Dayton and potentially No. 2 Kentucky, a rematch of their thriller back in 2014. Again it was another seeding blunder by the NCAA Selection Committee, but to have Kentucky playing Wichita so early.

Wichita State played one of the toughest schedules of all the mid-majors and only non-Power 5 loss was to Illinois State which they avenged in the Mountain Valley Championship. Avenging may be what the Shockers have on their mind as they look to avenge their seed and their 2014 loss.

-- No. 11 Rhode Island

Needing an auto-bid to make the NCAA tournament never puts you down as a tournament underdog favorite, but the way the draw shook out favors the Rams. Rhode Island plays a real aggressive defense all over the court, tough for one to find a weakness. Hassan Martin on the inside is a blocking machine, and the Rams guards are highly underrated on their defensive skills.

Facing off against No. 6 Creighton, who has not faced an intricate defense like Rhode Island all season, will have to find ways to combat it with off the ball movement from their post players. Following that they will play No. 3 Oregon who is missing their stretch-four Chris Boucher because of a season ending knee injury.

Not only does Rhode Island play defense but they can score both behind the arc and in the paint, relying on both to win. On top of that the Rams have won eight straight just to make the tournament.

-- No. 12 UNC Wilmington

To make NCAA tournament runs as a mid-major you need talented players and one heck of a coach. Wilmington has both.

If there was a team that could combat No. 5 Virginia’s defensive scheme it would be the Seahawks who have faced a team that runs a similar low possession style basketball. In the CAA, the College of Charleston averaged less than 64 points against all year and UNC Wilmington won two out of three.

Making them so dangerous is their different abilities to win; Kevin Keatts’ squad can win in a shootout or win in a defensive battle. Exactly how the team will need to prepare for Virginia and perhaps No. 4 Florida.

-- No. 10 Oklahoma State

One of the hottest teams in college basketball is the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Ending the season on a 9-3 stretch to make the NCAA Tournament the Cowboys have a tough task ahead against No. 7 Michigan, the Big Ten champions, and the No. 2 Louisville Cardinals.

With a quick scoring lineup that brings in 85 points a game, Oklahoma State can keep their hot streak going in the first two rounds. Three players can take control with Jawun Evans, Jeffrey Carroll, and Phil Forte all averaging double-digits scoring.

A path of Michigan and then Louisville is a tough task, but if there is anyone that can matchup with them both it is Oklahoma State.

Georgetown snaps 4-game road losing streak, tops Butler

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Georgetown snaps 4-game road losing streak, tops Butler

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marcus Derrickson tied a career-high with 27 points, on 11-of-13 shooting, for his eighth 20-plus point game this season and Georgetown beat Butler 87-83 on Tuesday night.

After Georgetown missed two free throws, Kamar Baldwin made a scoop shot in the lane and Sean McDermott stole the inbounds pass, leading to another Baldwin basket to pull Butler to 84-81 with 1:29 to go.

Butler had a chance to tie it in the closing seconds, but Baldwin's long 3-pointer was short and Jahvon Blair sealed it at the line at 4.5.

Jessie Govan had his 12th double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds for Georgetown (15-10, 5-9 Big East). Trey Dickerson, a senior averaging 3.5 points per game, set a career-high in the first half with 12 points and finished with 18.

Kelan Martin had 22 points and eight rebounds to reach 20 points for the 17th time this season for Butler (17-10, 7-7). Tyler Wideman added 19 points and Baldwin had 16 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

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Virginia jumps to top of new AP poll for first time since 1982

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Virginia jumps to top of new AP poll for first time since 1982

A loss didn't prevent Virginia from climbing to No. 1 in AP men's basketball poll for the first time in more than 35 years after all.

The Cavaliers rose a slot to sit atop Monday's AP Top 25 despite an overtime home loss Saturday to Virginia Tech, part of an upset-filled week that allowed for plenty of uncertainty in the poll. The Cavaliers (23-2, 12-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) earned 30 of 65 first-place votes to outdistance No. 2 Michigan State and rise above the turmoil that included last week's top three teams all losing.

Tony Bennett's Cavaliers had been at No. 2 before this season, but this is the first time the program has reached No. 1 since December 1982 — the senior season of 7-foot-4 great Ralph Sampson — back when the poll ranked only 20 teams. And that team fell out of that spot after its improbable upset loss to Chaminade in Hawaii, regarded by many as the biggest upset in the history of college sports.

Virginia looked set to reach the No. 1 spot after Villanova's home loss to St. John's before losing to the Hokies. Still, the Cavaliers ended up there a day after the NCAA selection committee had them as the No. 1 overall seed in its reveal of the top 16 seeds to date.

The Cavaliers — whose 12 previous weeks at No. 1 all came during the Sampson era — play with the top ranking for the first time since the Chaminade loss on Tuesday at Miami.

"I do not get too carried away with where we are," Bennett said after the loss to the Hokies. "I always say 'thus far,' and now we have to prove it again. ... Now we are going to get a chance to do it again and we are going to have to fight like crazy every game. Everybody is capable of beating everybody in this league and that is reality. If you are little off it is not enough."

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TOP-5 CHANGES

Michigan State (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten) climbed two spots after a weekend win against Purdue in a top-5 matchup. The Spartans, who reached No. 1 for a week in January, earned 21 first-place votes.

Next came Villanova (23-2, 10-2 Big East), who fell to third after a five-week stay at No. 1 and earned nine first-place votes. Xavier (23-3, 11-2 Big East) inched up a spot to fourth and earned five first-place votes, followed by Cincinnati (23-2, 12-0 American Athletic Conference) at No. 5.

This is Xavier's highest ranking in its history, while Cincinnati is in the top 5 for the first time since spending a good chunk of the 2001-02 season there.

PURDUE'S SLIDE

Purdue (23-4, 12-2 Big East) fell from third to sixth after losing to Ohio State and Michigan State last week. Those losses snapped the nation's longest winning streak at 19 games, marking Purdue's first losses since falling to Tennessee and Western Kentucky on consecutive November days in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.

Texas Tech was next at No. 7, followed by Ohio State, Gonzaga and Auburn to round out the top 10.

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TOP RISERS

Rivalry wins against Duke and North Carolina State helped North Carolina climb seven spots to No. 14 for the week's biggest jump. It continued the Tar Heels' wild swings in poll positioning, including a nine-slot drop last month and two other slides of eight slots.

Ohio State rose six spots to No. 8 after the Purdue win, while No. 11 Clemson was up five spots.

LONGEST SLIDES

Oklahoma and freshman star Trae Young had the biggest fall of the week, down six spots to No. 23. The Sooners have lost three straight and six of eight after Saturday's loss at Iowa State .

St. Mary's (15th) and Arizona (17th) both fell four spots.

NEWCOMERS

The newcomers aren't entirely new this week. Both No. 21 Texas A&M and No. 25 Arizona State have been ranked multiple weeks this season and appeared in the top 10, with the Sun Devils reaching No. 3 on Christmas Day.

SLIDING OUT

Kentucky fell out of the rankings for the second time this season -- It hadn't happened since March 2014 before this year -- from No. 24 after three straight losses. Miami fell out from No. 25 after losing at Boston College.

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