NCAA

NCAA Tournament 2017: Six teams you may want to re-think sending far in your bracket

NCAA Tournament 2017: Six teams you may want to re-think sending far in your bracket

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

Opening night of the NCAA Tournament could have been a wake-up call for many.

And while there is still time, one should really reconsider looking at how far they have certain teams advancing in the big dance. 

For some, Wake Forest losing in the First Four to Kansas State came across as a shock.

As early returns on brackets are coming in, surprisingly No. 11 Wake Forest were many people's favorite not only to win their First Four matchup, but jump into the Round of 32 by beating No. 6 Cincinnati. 

Now whether that was mere hope of Demon Deacon fans, the allure of the ACC's strength this year, or simply that Wake Forest is a 'bigger' college basketball name than Kansas State or Cincinnati, Wake Forest was not going to make that run. 

There are other teams that fall into this situation as well, that are big names, or have injuries, that one should look at before brackets become final. Not insinuating that these teams will lose in the opening rounds, but simply that do not expect them to go far past round of 32. 

RELATED: RANKING THE BEST AND WORST MARCH MADNESS MASCOTS

— No. 3 Oregon (Midwest, vs. No. 14 Iona)

This should come as no surprise to anyone to those that have followed college basketball throughout the conference championships. Losing one of their key starters, Chris Boucher leaves a giant hole in their lineup. The 6'10" forward, was vital at the stretch four position and the Ducks offense, he was third on the team in points (11.8 per game), second in rebounds (6.1 per game), and blocks (2.5 per game).

Although they nearly pulled out a Pac-12 Championship against Arizona in the following game, it is never easy to pull out a run following an injury. Oregon should not be a First Round exit, but with either No. 6 Creighton or No. 11 Rhode Island waiting for them in the Second Round followed by potentially No. 2 Louisville, it would be tough to pull off even at full-strength.

— No. 6 Maryland (West, vs. No. 11 Xavier)

Sorry Terps fans, but losing four out of the last six games heading into the tournament does not bode well. Although height and size is a minor issue, Maryland just simply is not built for a long tournament run. Every year though they seem to be fan favorites to make the Elite Eight or Final Four no matter where they are seeded. 

Face it, the Big Ten had a rough year this season as a conference and was not as strong overall. The Terps might not be prepared for heavyweight teams night after night. It will not stop one of the best backcourts in the NCAA with Melo Trimble and Anthony Cowan Jr.  from trying though.

— No. 3 UCLA (South, vs. No. 14 Kent State)

UCLA is hyped up right now. Returning to the tournament after missing it last season and one of the most eccentric players in college basketball, Lonzo Ball, the Bruins are favorites to make a run. Partly this is because of their high powered offense that scored more than 90 points in 14 contests this year.

As everyone has learned in the past handful of seasons though, you have to have a good defense to win the tournament. Frankly, if the Bruins cannot score, then their defense will be unable to bail them out. Their potential Second Round opponent, No. 6 Cincinnati, does play defense and limits teams to only 60 points a night.

RELATED: PLAY CSN BRACKET CHALLENGE, WIN FLOOR SEATS

— No. 7 Michigan (Midwest, vs. No. 10 Oklahoma State)

Conference champions are easy teams to throw in for a deep NCAA tournament run because they are getting hot at the right time. For the Wolverines though their Big Ten Championship did them no favors in seeding, pulling in at a No. 7 seed. 

First up they play one of the hottest teams in the country, No. 10 Oklahoma State then potentially one of the best teams in basketball for the past several years, No. 2 Louisville. From there it gets only worse and as mentioned earlier, Big Ten teams are not as primed for long tournament runs like ACC or Big East teams.

— No. 10 Wichita State (South, vs. No. 7 Dayton)

The Shockers are another team that suffers from their placement in the bracket, which is one of the most heinous seeding faults of this tournament. First up they play No. 7 Dayton, no slouch in terms of mid-majors, followed by potentially No. 2 Kentucky, which yes everyone wants to see. After that it is then the Sweet 16 and more tough teams are on the horizon.

If by some miracle the Shockers can survive a back-to-back with Dayton and Kentucky, two of the most relentless teams in the country. Wichita State will be gassed out. This is not the same 2014 Wichita State Shockers, who I remind you, lost to Kentucky when the Wildcats were a No. 8 seed in the Second Round.

— No. 3 Baylor (East, No. 14 New Mexico State)

Heading into conference play as a contender for the national championship, the Bears have trailed off toward the end of the year. Losers of six in their past 11 games, Baylor is doing the exact opposite of what you want come tournament time. Wins against Oregon, Michigan State, Louisville, and Xavier are from a team far from what we see now.

Expect the Johnathan Motley show, who comes into the tournament averaging 17.3 points and 9.9 rebounds. If not and the ball can be distributed around then that completely changes the dynamic of this team. In the past several games Motley has taken nearly a third of the teams shots and it is a case of whether or not he is feeling it to determine if Baylor were to win.

RELATED: FIVE DOUBLE DIGITS SEEDS THAT COULD MAKE THE SWEET 16

 

DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: Get prepared for feast week

walker_guy_liberty_usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: Get prepared for feast week

Nearly half of the teams in the Mid-Atlantic played another Mid-Atlantic team. Early on, head-to-heads are a quick indicator into who holds strong in NBC Sports Washington’s Power Rankings. However, as the season goes on head-to-head wins do not always tell the full story.

The showcase game of this crew was the battle for the state of Virginia hoops on Friday night. The Virginia Cavaliers traveled to VCU and gutted out a tough non-conference victory, forcing the Rams to 12 turnovers.

With a win over a fellow top five team, it solidifies Virginia’s positioning as the No. 2 team in the rankings. By far and away the Terrapins and Cavaliers are above the other teams in the Mid-Atlantic.

Continuing with the rivalry trend... Towson traveled to Loyola, Georgetown hosted both Mount St. Mary’s and Maryland-Eastern Shore, Hampton went to William & Mary, and that is just to name a few.

So yeah, a lot of DMV schools playing each other.

Also it is feast week so a lot of opportunities to catch these teams in action on television.

RELATED: 10 LOCAL PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON THIS YEAR

These rankings are based on scores as of Monday, November 20. All 29 Division I schools in Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware are included in this rankings.

1. Maryland Terrapins (Big Ten):
Record: 5-0
Last Week: #1 (+0)

Maryland may have one of the most complete teams in the NCAA. On Wednesday the Terps faced their toughest competition of the season this far, perhaps their biggest test of non-conference play: Butler.

Maryland held the Bulldogs to a five to ten point advantage for a majority of the contest and put it away with free throws late. Anthony Cowan Jr. had a career-high in points (25) and rebounds (10) to go along with five assists as they went on to win shooting 57 percent from the field.

The bigger scare was what the Bucknell Bison gave Maryland on Saturday evening. Fortunately freshman Bruno Fernando broke out with 14 points and nine rebounds and the Terps held on by two points.

Now Maryland leaves the friendly confines of the XFINITY Center for the first time all season. They play St. Bonaventure and either TCU or New Mexico in the Emerald Coast Classic. They follow that up with Syracuse in the Big Ten/ ACC Challenge on Monday.

2. Virginia Cavaliers (ACC):
Record: 4-0
Last Week: #2 (+0)

Here is the offense that Virginia was waiting for and desperately needed. Kyle Guy sparked the Cavaliers to a bragging rights win over VCU on Friday. Scoring 29 points, Guy hit five three pointers including one to put the game on ice in the final minute.

Almost as important, redshirt freshman De’Andre Hunter then scored 23 on Sunday against Monmouth. Guy and Devon Hall are both averaging double figures and together they can do just enough for Virginia this year.

In their past three games they have scored 73+ points, well above their average from 2016-17 season. They will need it with the NIT Season Tip-off coming up this week.

3. VCU Rams (A-10):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #3 (+0)

This week the Rams got exposed in two huge games that may hurt their NCAA tournament at-large hopes.

First, they are not a run-and-gun team as seen in their loss against Marquette. Also defensively they are not your older brother’s VCU, seen against Virginia.

The good thing they can hang their hat on is that even though it appeared they were getting rolled, they kept both games close. Despite Virginia being in control, VCU had a couple of chances to take the lead before Kyle Guy’s monster three. In the Jim Maui Invitational against Marquette, Jonathan Williams and Justin Tillman struggled, yet they were always two or three possessions away.

It is still early in the season and there are still plenty of chances for VCU to prove themselves going forward. They continue in the Maui Invitational this week with California and another quality opponent.

4. Virginia Tech Hokies (ACC):
Record: 3-1
Last Week: #4 (+0)

A season ago, a loss to the Billikins would have been detrimental to the Hokies RPI. This year not so much after Travis Ford has led a tremendous turnaround for the program.

Responding with a blowout win over Washington in the 2K Classic this won’t hurt them too much on the long run as long as Saint Louis lives up to preseason expectations.

But still, Virginia Tech has scored 100+ points over three teams this season, and now one over a Power 5 conference opponent.

Freshman Nickeil Alexander-Walker still is on fire and averaging 19.3 points through is first four collegiate games ever. Joined by Justin Bibbs (22.5 ppg), Ahmed Hill (22.0) and others, there are five Hokies in averaging double figures.

5. George Mason Patriots (A-10):
Record: 3-1
Last Week: #5 (+0)

Patriots continue to squeak out wins at home. Not ideal for a team trying to prove themselves by barely beating three teams that finished worse than 300 in the RPI last year.

Still, wins are wins and they are finally getting production from their bench, which is a game changer. On Saturday evening redshirt freshman A.J. Wilson put up eight blocks in only 22 minutes off of the bench.

At 3-1 George Mason should be fortunate, but they have proven they can play up to competition. This week the team travels to the Cancun Challenge facing Louisiana Tech and an opponent TBD.

There is another freshman, Goanar Mar who leads the Patriots with 14.3 points per game. Before long he will not be a name that you will easily recognize.

6. Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA):
Record: 4-1
Last Week: #6 (+8)

The Monarchs knew they could have topped Temple in their first round of the Charleston Classic, but they rebounded nicely with wins over Indiana State and Dayton.

Dayton of course being the real upset.

Old Dominion now has multiple scorers, some on the outside and some on the inside. This team has developed to a strong defensive force and is doing what they need to do on offense to win games. Just Ahmad Caver (38.4 minutes per game) needs to get some rest before he gets injured.

Watch out George Mason, because your former rivals are now knocking on the door to be a top five team in the Mid-Atlantic.

7. Towson Tigers (CAA):
Record: 3-1
Last Week: #7 (+0)

Three straight wins for the Tigers as they are in the heat of their preseason tournament, the Florida Gulf Coast Showcase.

Beating a fellow DMV school by 20 points, Towson dismantled Loyola on the road. Senior guard Brian Starr was perfect from the field (7-7), finishing with a career-high 21 points. As a team they shot an outstanding 62 percent from the field and 50 from behind the arc. With shooting nights like that, and five players reaching double figures, they can be in any contest.

Still waiting on Mike Morsell to come back to form, but right now it is not necessary. The Florida Gulf Coast Classic continues this week for Towson then they host St. Mary’s College of Maryland on Monday.

8. Georgetown Hoyas (Big East):
Record: 3-0
Last Week: #10 (+2)

Two blowout wins but both against opponents that Georgetown should have never been worried about. They also happened to be against two other teams in this list, Mount St. Mary’s and Maryland-Eastern Shore.

Jessie Govan has been tearing up these smaller programs throughout the year. Every single game he was scored at least 20 points and brought down 10 or more rebounds. No surprise, but he is on an incredible pace to start the season with 21 points, 14 boards per game.

Not too much to brag about, but either way it will go down as a 3-0 start for Patrick Ewing’s coaching tenure with the Hoyas. With other teams struggling on the onset, it leaves Georgetown to climb up the rankings.

They continue their locality-based schedule with the Richmond Spiders being their only opponent this week, no preseason tournament for the Hoyas this year.

9. Liberty Flames (Big South):
Record: 3-2
Last Week: #12 (+3)

Man once last week started, it was time to go all-in on the Flames. A double-digit win over Wake Forest on the road gave the signs that this team had arrived early on their expectations.

Then they lost to Mercer (a good team) by 15 at home and then dropped a close one to Houston.

Although they rebounded nicely with a win hosting Quinnipiac, they missed a golden opportunity to claim their stake as one of the newest mid-major forces on the block. Nevertheless they break into the top ten in the Mid-Atlantic rankings for the first time this season.

They are getting it done with production all around the court. While they will need a playmaker in their non-conference stretch, they look good in all aspects of the game.

10. UMBC Retrievers (A-East):
Record: 1-3
Last Week: #8 (-2)

The Colgate road loss really hurts this team that was looking to make a jump this year. Now, only a week and a half into the season, the Retrievers are going to be all-in on the America East title to get into the NCAA Tournament.

Although it has been a rough start, but respectable scores against good schools, Central Penn is their only win at this point.

Returning to the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, there are two must wins on the horizon this week against Chicago State and Presbyterian or Nicholls State.

READ ALSO: LAST WEEK'S PRESEASON RANKINGS

11. George Washington Colonials (A-10):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #9 (-2)

George Washington was never in their road match-up against Florida State. Then they barely beat Hampton at home, but followed up that scary win with a home loss to Rider… Back-to-back home games against two schools near the middle of their single-bid conferences and they put up only 65 in both of them.

Part of this is no threat from deep. As a team they are only 26 percent from behind the arc this year and only Jair Bloden (11-30 from 3pt) has more than four three pointers on the year. Yuta Watanabe has not developed into the sole provider for this offense and either needs to pick it up or find some help down the roster.

Dropping out of the top ten in these rankings, the Colonials have opportunities for redemption in the Las Vegas Invitational. Coming back home with one win over Xavier, Kansas State, or Arizona State could go a long way.

12. Richmond Spiders (A-10):
Record: 1-2
Last Week: #16 (+4)

A much needed win for the Spiders over the University of Alabama-Birmingham in the Cayman Islands. It was also another breakout game for a young player in the DMV. Redshirt freshman Grant Golden, who graduated from St. James in Maryland, scored 26 points and had seven rebounds.

Tough match-ups up ahead against No. 12 Cincinnati and either Wyoming or LA-Lafayette but definitely some redemption this week for the Spiders.

Oh and then they have Georgetown in the Robbins Center on Saturday. That could be fun.

Khwan Fore is getting closer to a return, but they are a much different team without him.

13. Morgan State Bears (MEAC):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #11 (-2)

Morgan State hung on to beat a Division III Lincoln (PA) team and then got blown out at No. 24 West Virginia, although that was going to be a given.

Still waiting for Phillip Carr to get to mid-season form shooting the ball, he has found his grove in other areas of the court. With him struggling though it has led to many empty possessions and inflated some of their offensive rebounds to start the season.

Up next the team will have plenty of winnable games and games that will show how they actually stack. First Goldey-Beacom, a Division II school Is heading to Baltimore, then they have fellow Maryland school, Mount St. Mary’s.

14. Navy Midshipmen (Patriot):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #13 (-1)

Beating Pittsburgh seemed like such a long time ago for the Midshipmen. And now everyone knows that the Panthers were just not that good. The Midshipmen lost to Penn on the road and took over in the second half to beat Bryant.

They are yet another balanced team with strong starters and a decent bench, but they need to win some tough games.

15. William & Mary Tribe (CAA):
Record: 1-2
Last Week: #18 (+3)

Bragging rights over The Peninsula in southeast Virginia went to the Tribe after they defeated the Hampton Pirates at Kaplan Arena.

It wasn’t until late, but a 10-0 run and 31 points put up by Nathan Knight gave William & Mary their first of the season.  He is bringing in 20 points and 9.7 rebounds a night for the Tribe as they are slowly overcoming early season struggles.

They now look from bragging rights across Hampton Roads, hosting Old Dominion on Saturday.

16. Delaware Blue Hens (CAA):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #14 (-2)

Delaware relies entirely inside the paint, whether its scoring or controlling possession, that is where the Blue Hens win.

It will get Delaware easy wins over lesser competition, but it will make it easy for mid to upper mid-majors and for CAA rivals once conference play starts. As of Tuesday morning, they only have made 14 three pointers total on the year. Thirty-one players in the NCAA have already scored the same or more individually.

But in the paint, they dominate; against Wesley College they had 72 of their 93 points in the interior.

They continue their week at the UNCG Spartan Classic with North Carolina Wesleyan and Longwood.

17. Hampton Pirates (MEAC):
Record: 1-4
Last Week: #17 (+0)

It was a big week for the Hampton Pirates. Not the team but the department announced that Hampton is moving from the MEAC to the Big South. This is only the second HBCU to move out of the MEAC or the SWAC.

Other than that they lost to William & Mary and George Washington in close match-ups. Then No. 15 Xavier trounced them on Monday night. Hampton continues to fall down the rankings without a Division I win.

They are one of the few lower conference teams on this list to be traveling to a preseason tournament. The Las Vegas Classic is this week, and yes they could end up player Rider once again. 

18. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (NEC):
Record: 1-3
Last Week: #19 (+1)

The Mount keeps racking in the buy-in games, losing to No. 14 Notre Dame and Georgetown. They did however get their first win of the season over North Florida by scoring 84 in regulation.

They finally have some offense that is not just Junior Robinson, but now need some of their freshmen to start rebounding and doing other things on the court.

19. Radford (Big South):
Record: 2-1
Last Week: #21 (+2)

An all-around effort against East Carolina gave the Highlanders their first Division I victory on the season. Off the bench Ed Polite Jr. led all scorers with 17 points, highlighting 46 from the reserves. There was also a concerted effort to get to the free throw line forcing 34 attempts, although they would only make 23 of them.

20. Loyola Greyhounds (Patriot):
Record: 0-3
Last Week: #15 (-5)

A four-point loss to ranked Northwestern on opening night doesn’t look the same anymore. Also this Loyola team doesn’t look the same either.

The Greyhounds followed it up with a loss to Fairfield from the MAAC, where the team only mustered 52 points, 27 of those coming from senior Andre Walker. They then dropped a contest to in-state rival Towson, where the Tigers could not be stopped, hitting 62 percent from the field.

The hype was real for a day, but now it is back to Earth for Loyola and back to where they started the season in the rankings.

21. James Madison Dukes (CAA):
Record: 1-4
Last Week: #20 (-1)

Three straight losses from Northern Kentucky, Weber State, and UTSA at the Islands of Bahamas Showcase have the Dukes still searching for their first Division I win of the season. No easy schedule for them either with Appalachian State and Radford (their best chance for a win in a while) this week.

22. Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC):
Record: 0-4
Last Week: #22 (+0)

The Spartans cannot wait for Zaynah Robinson to come back in 2017. With him, once can easily make the argument that this is a 3-1 or 2-2 basketball team. Now they are winless still battling in the Grand Canyon Classic.

23. American Eagles (Patriot):
Record: 0-3
Last Week: #23 (+0)

No one can deny losing to Wagner by one point is a heartbreaker for any American fan. A much needed return to Bender Arena against VMI on Saturday.

24. Howard Bison (MEAC):
Record: 0-5
Last Week: #24 (+0)

While the record is not there, the Bison are remaining close in all of their early season games. That is if you exclude they 106-69 loss to No. 17 Gonzaga. They are not necessarily bad teams either as three of their other losses were by 10 points or less.

25. VMI Keydets (SoCon):
Record: 1-2
Last Week: #29 (+4)

The Keydets are in the win column and they did so by beating Presbyterian by 20 points. Junior Austin Vereen had his best offensive output of his career with 22 points on 7-9 shooting. He also added another career-high in rebounds (six). They should win more games than they did last year (6), but now have American on the horizon.

26. Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (MEAC):
Record: 1-3
Last Week: #25 (-1)

It is 2017, yet we still have games being postponed because venues cannot keep the lights on. Maybe St. Bonaventure should have called Motel 6? Game was made up on 11/20 and the result was probably what it would have been just a week ago.

The Hawks are still in the Emerald Coast Classic on their own half of the bracket where they could chalk-up a win or two before returning home.

27. Longwood Lancers (Big South):
Record: 0-3
Last Week: #26 (-1)

Longwood is still trending in the wrong direction after losing to Stephen F. Austin by only 13 on opening weekend. Now a 10 point loss to Columbia and 27 point loss to Saint Francis (PA). They now head to Greensboro, North Carolina for the UNCG Tournament.

28. Delaware State Hornets (MEAC):
Record: 1-4
Last Week: #27 (+0)

Probably didn’t expect the Hornets to get a win on their four-game road trip at the beginning of the season. In all four games they have allowed 80+ points and lost by 20+ points in three of them.

29. Coppin State (MEAC):
Record: 0-5
Last Week: #28 (+0)

The most points Coppin State has scored this season is 56 and that was in a 24-point loss to Cleveland State. They also only scored 39 against Rutgers two days later.

Hoyas, Patrick Ewing remain undefeated, beat Maryland-Eastern Shore

ewing_walker_usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Hoyas, Patrick Ewing remain undefeated, beat Maryland-Eastern Shore

WASHINGTON -- Jessie Govan had his third straight double-double, Marcus Derrickson had the third of his career and Georgetown remained unbeaten under former star Patrick Ewing with an 83-57 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday.

Kaleb Johnson scored a career-high 24 points for the Hoyas (3-0) on 9-of-13 shooting, including four 3-pointers. Govan had 23 points, making 10 of 15 shots, and grabbed 14 rebounds, and Derrickson had 14 points and 10 boards.

DMV POWER RANKINGS: SPIDERS FALL, MONARCHS RISE AFTER OPENING WEEKEND

With Johnson making his first three treys and going 7 of 9 from the field for 14 points, Georgetown raced to a 40-19 lead at the half. Derrickson and Govan had 3-point plays to help Georgetown open a 10-0 lead and the Hoyas had runs of nine and eight to lead 35-8 before the Hawks, who were 6 of 23 at that point, closed the half with an 11-5 run.

Miryne Thomas led the Hawks (1-2) with 16 points and Ahmad Frost had 14.

READ MORE: GOVAN IS ONE DMV STAR TO WATCH THIS SEASON