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 gets a boost with Jessie Govan returning to school

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Georgetown gets a boost with Jessie Govan returning to school

After testing the NBA Draft waters, Georgetown center Jessie Govan decided to return to the Hoyas for his senior season.

Govan announced his intention to return on Instagram a week before the final commitment deadline.

Returning to the Hoyas is definitely a boost to the program that will be in their second year under head coach Patrick Ewing.  At 6-10, Govan was the team’s leading scorer (17.9 ppg) and rebounder (10.0 rpg) averaging a double-double last season.

Paired alongside power forward Marcus Derrickson, the Hoyas were nearly unstoppable in the paint. Derrickson though decided to forgo his senior year and signed with an agent after the season.

Had Govan decided to leave that would have meant over 56 percent of the team’s scoring and rebounding would have departed (to graduation or professional pursuits) in a handful of months. Not the best outlook for a 15-win team that went 5-13 in the Big East.

Instead Ewing gets back his leading scorer that many believe he can mold as a young protégée. While in the draft process without an agent Govan had workouts with the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. Both are valuable experiences that he will bring to a relatively young Georgetown squad.

Having Govan for one more year will bridge Ewing’s second season to transfer big-man, Omer Yurtseven to his first year of eligibility in 2019. They were set up to having a walk-on and two sophomores being the only returning Hoyas over 6-6 for the upcoming season.

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Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

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USA TODAY Sports

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.

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Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.