On Sunday at 6:00 PM EST, the Field of 68 was released to the general viewing public. If you are like most people, you know who your team plays and when. But did you know that a number of factors can impact how well your team does in the Big Dance? We’ll cover some of those factors, while simultaneously mentioning each team in the NCAA Tournament.
Note: Each team is only mentioned once. Some teams, of course, could fit into multiple categories.
One and done?
A lot of a team’s success can be based on how a given coach performs in the NCAA Tournament. March Madness is a high-pressure time of the year and it takes a special kind of coach to be able to manage the game. We’re not saying these aren’t good coaches; what we are saying is for some reason or another, these teams, especially under their current coach, have a tendency to exit the tournament early on.
One and done team examples: Georgetown (John Thompson III is 7-5 in the NCAA Tournament at Georgetown, but just 0-2 in his last two appearances); Louisville (Rick Pitino is 7-5 in the NCAA Tournament at Louisville, but just 0-2 in his last two appearances); Notre Dame (Mike Brey is 6-7 in the NCAA Tournament at Notre Dame, but just 2-4 in his last four appearances); Temple (Fran Dunphy is 1-4 in the NCAA Tournament at Temple); Vanderbilt (Kevin Stallings is 5-5 in the NCAA Tournament at Vanderbilt, but just 1-3 in his last three appearances).
In It To Win It
A lot of a team’s success can be based on how a given coach performs in the NCAA Tournament. These coaches have shown the ability to, on average, win at least a few games in the NCAA Tournament. Sure, these coaches have had their share of disappointments in the NCAA Tournament, but more likely than not, these teams could advance past the first weekend.
In It To Win It team examples: Michigan State (Tom Izzo is 35-13 in the NCAA Tournament at Michigan State, and 9-3 in his last three appearances); Ohio State (Thad Matta is 10-6 in the NCAA Tournament at Ohio State, and 4-3 in his last three appearances); Wisconsin (Bo Ryan is 14-10 in the NCAA Tournament at Wisconsin, and 4-3 in his last three appearances).
Location matters, whether it is in real estate or the NCAA Tournament. A few years back, Syracuse, in 2003, won the national title in New Orleans. En route to the Big Easy, this year’s host for the Final Four, the Orange played in the opening round in Boston, Massachusetts and a regional in Albany, New York. For Syracuse, location mattered – they had their fans close by. When in stuck on a matchup, choose a team who is closer to home than their opponent.
Home Cooking team examples: North Carolina (roughly 1 hour from Greensboro); Duke (roughly 1 hour from Greensboro); Kentucky (roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes from Louisville); West Virginia (roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes from Pittsburgh); Ohio State (roughly 3 hours and 10 minutes from Pittsburgh); Kansas (roughly 3 hours and 10 minutes from Omaha); Cincinnati (roughly 4 hours and 20 minutes from Nashville); Purdue (roughly 4 hours and 30 minutes from St. Louis – Midwest Region).
Every year, the NCAA Selection Committee tries to keep teams as close to home as possible. More likely than not, this happens. Sometimes, however, teams get placed away from home. It occasionally happens that a team who is a better seed places further away from home than its lower seeded counterpart. These teams are at a disadvantage, location-wise, having to travel further and being further away from their fans. Be wary of these teams, as they tend to exit early.
Locational Disadvantage team examples: California (in Dayton on Wednesday); Florida State (potentially in Nashville, on Sunday); Marquette (potentially in Louisville, on Saturday); Mississippi Valley State (in Dayton on Tuesday); Saint Mary’s (in Omaha on Friday); San Diego State (in Columbus on Friday and potentially on Sunday).
The NCAA Selection Committee loves teams who can win away from home. Why? Simply put, teams cannot play at home during the NCAA Tournament – for the teams that could, they are bracketed away from a potential site, if they host a given round. Road Warriors don’t have to be worried about opposing fans because they have dealt with them all year – rather successfully.
Road Warriors team examples: Murray State (14-0); Wichita State (11-1); Syracuse (9-1); Harvard (15-3); Iona (12-4); Creighton (10-3); New Mexico (11-4); Baylor (10-4); Brigham Young (10-4).
Welcome (Back) to the Big Show
Many teams can’t wait for the time to hear their name announced on Selection Sunday. For some teams, it is the first time they have been to the NCAA Tournament – either in a long time or forever. Teams who have had large gaps between NCAA Tournament appearances tend not to fare well in March Madness, but there have been exceptions. More experienced teams tend to have better success.
Welcome (Back) to the Big Show team examples: Colorado State (first bid since 2003); Detroit (first bid since 1999); Iowa State (first bid since 2005); Lamar (first bid since 2000); Long Beach State (first bid since 2007); Loyola (MD) (first bid since 1994); Norfolk State (first ever bid); North Carolina State (first bid since 2006); Saint Louis (first bid since 2000); South Dakota State (first ever bid); South Florida (first bid since 1992); Southern Miss (first bid since 1991); St. Bonaventure (first bid since 2000); Virginia (first bid since 2007).
Plenty of teams have made the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons. What is more impressive is when a low or mid-major squad makes the NCAA Tournament as an automatic bid in back-to-back seasons. Teams that have been in the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons are more likely to win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament than are teams who haven’t been to the Dance in awhile.
Seasoned Veterans team examples: Belmont; LIU Brooklyn; Memphis; NC Asheville.
Sleeper teams are ones who weren’t necessarily the best team in their conference or, if they were, teams who turned it on down the stretch. These teams are ones who could sneak up on a better-seeded foe, springing an upset or two, or at least putting a scare into their better seeded opponents.
Sleeper Teams team examples: Alabama; Colorado; Davidson; Montana; New Mexico State; Ohio University; Texas; Xavier.
A team that is over-seeded deserves to be at a line lower then the one they are currently at (for example, Team A is seeded at the 5 line, when they should be a 6). Over-seeded teams tend to exit the tournament earlier than their counterparts, the under-seeded teams. That doesn’t mean an over-seeded team will lose in the opening weekend, it just means to be skeptical of what they can do.
Over-seeded team examples: Indiana; Lehigh; Gonzaga; Kansas State; UNLV.
A team that is under-seeded deserves to be at a line higher then the one they are currently at (for example, Team B is seeded at the 6 line, when they should be a 5). Under-seeded teams tend to stick around in the tournament for longer than their counterparts, the over-seeded teams. That doesn’t mean an under-seeded team will make the final four, it just means to be mindful of their potential.
Under-seeded team examples: Connecticut; Florida; Michigan; Vermont; Virginia Commonwealth; Western Kentucky.
If you have read this article all the way through, you’d know we are missing one team – Missouri. The Tigers are a enigma, to say the least. Frank Haith took over a program where he seemingly wasn’t wanted, the Tigers were nearly 300th in non-conference strength of schedule, but beat Baylor three times, Kansas once (twice, if you ask Mizzou fans), and won the Big 12 Conference Tournament Championship. Yet the Tigers are seeded second, and the lowest two seed at that. Think they have something to prove?