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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.

Virginia Tech sends North Carolina to 5th straight loss in double overtime

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Virginia Tech sends North Carolina to 5th straight loss in double overtime

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Tyrece Radford made a short jumper with 0.4 seconds left in the second overtime and Virginia Tech sent North Carolina to its fifth consecutive loss, 79-77, on Wednesday night.

Radford got the ball with the clock winding down after the Tar Heels tied it with 9.7 seconds left, drove into the lane and made his only field goal of the game from in front of the basket for the Hokies (14-5, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Landers Nolley scored 22 points and Jalen Cone 18 for the Hokies.

Garrison Brooks scored 28 points and Justin Pierce had 15 for the Tar Heels (8-10, 1-6), who lost their sixth consecutive conference game for the first time in program history. They also kept coach Roy Williams tied with former UNC coach Dean Smith at 879 victories, tied for fourth among Division 1 head coaches.

The Tar Heels, without top scorer Cole Anthony (19.1 ppg) since early December, also played without No. 3 scorer Brandon Robinson (12.1), who the school said continues to suffer from persistent neck pain after a car accident on Jan. 11.

North Carolina had a chance to win it in regulation, but Brooks' turnaround jumper from just inside the free throw line hit the back rim and missed. They also came up empty at the end of the first overtime with the score at 67-all.

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: It was an especially difficult night for guard Andrew Platek, who was jeered whenever he touched the ball with chants of "Airball. Airball" after a poor shot early and seemed somewhat affected. The junior had at least two more airballs to the delight of the crowd and then had a rushed attempt to beat the shot clock rejected by the 6-foot-1 Radford in the second half. Platek finished 2 for 11 from the field.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies didn't have an especially good night from 3-point range, one of their bread and butters plays this year, except for freshman Cone. He hit two 30 seconds apart in the final minutes to pull Tech within 59-58 and was 6 for 11 on the night. The rest of the Hokies were 8 for 26. The 5-10 guard is now 40 for 72 (55.5%) for the season.

UP NEXT

The Tar Heels return home to face Miami on Saturday.

Virginia Tech heads on the road to face Boston College on Saturday.

Xavier snaps three-game losing streak with victory over Georgetown

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Xavier snaps three-game losing streak with victory over Georgetown

Freshman KyKy Tandy scored a season-high 18 points, Naji Marshall also had 18 and Xavier snapped a three-game losing streak with a 66-57 victory over Georgetown on Wednesday night.

Tyrique Jones recorded his 10th double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Musketeers (13-6, 2-4 Big East Conference).

Mac McClung led Georgetown (12-8, 2-5) with 19 points. Freshman Qudus Wahab scored nine points for the Hoyas, who have lost five of seven.

A 13-0 run helped Xavier take control in the first half as Paul Scruggs' 3-pointer put the Musketeers ahead 23-8.

The Hoyas started 3-of-16 shooting and trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half. But four points from McClung during a 7-0 run helped reduce the Musketeers's lead to 10.

Tandy's 3-pointer with 14 seconds left in the half put Xavier ahead 35-23. Georgetown's 23 first-half points tied a season-low, also scoring 23 in a loss at Providence on Dec. 31.

Marshall picked up his third foul with 17:45 left, and McClung's steal and reverse dunk cut the Musketeers' lead to eight. But Tandy's fourth 3-pointer put the Musketeers ahead 62-46 with 4:49 left.

The Musketeers are trying to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1998-99 and 1999-00 campaigns.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: Following a 20-point loss at Marquette last week, Xavier coach Travis Steele said who performed the best in practice would start against the Hoyas. There were a couple notable changes. Senior Quentin Goodin, who had started all 18 games this season, did not play. And freshman Zach Freemantle made his first start of the season, scoring four points with seven rebounds.

UP NEXT

Georgetown hosts No. 13 Butler on Tuesday.

Xavier plays at Creighton on Sunday.

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