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. 

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— 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.

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— 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.

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Richmond Spiders lose leading scorer Blake Francis for 4-6 weeks

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Richmond Spiders lose leading scorer Blake Francis for 4-6 weeks

Richmond Spiders' Blake Francis will miss four to six weeks after fracturing his sternum, the team announced on Thursday.

The injury occurred at the end of the Spiders' contest against Saint Louis on Jan. 11. Francis fell to the floor to save a loose ball when opposing Bilikins dove onto a dogpile to recover the possession themselves. 

If Francis is out for the full six weeks, he would return during the final week of the regular season. It would give the guard a tuneup game before they play in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. 

The loss of Francis for the majority of the Atlantic 10 conference season cannot be overstated. A transfer from Wagner, Francis is the No. 2 guard in the Spiders lineup and putting out 17 points a game. Immediately he had an impact for the Spiders and was named a starter for his first game in Richmond. 

His scoring threat has allowed other stars Jacob Gilyard and Grant Golden to flourish. An aspect of the offense that was missing last year. 

At 13-4, the Spiders were still in NCAA Tournament consideration before the injury. They have one of the better records in the league and tough road victories at Rhode Island and Davidson to their credit. However, there is no wiggle room for the Spiders and they probably cannot afford another loss to anyone not named Dayton or VCU. 

Without Francis, they'll have to supplement the offense elsewhere if they want any chance to return to the big dance in March. 

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Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente takes himself out of running for Baylor job

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Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente takes himself out of running for Baylor job

Virginia Tech fans can breathe a sigh of relief today, as head coach football coach Justin Fuente has decided to stay in Blacksburg, according to Andrea Adelson

Fuente had emerged as a top candidate to replace Matt Rhule at Baylor, but he took himself out of the running and will look to improve on a strong close to the 2019 season for the Hokies. 

Fuente just finished replacing a number of defensive assistants. He hired a new cornerbacks coach Tuesday and promoted Justin Hamilton to defensive coordinator after Bud Foster retired. 

While a bad loss to Virginia at the end of the regular season and a heartbreaking loss in the bowl game to Kentucky could paint the season as a failure, finishing 8-5 after early-season struggles is a victory in and of itself.

Heading into next season, Virginia Tech fans have to feel good about the state of their team. The head coach is back and they seemed to find a rising star at quarterback in Hendon Hooker. 

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