March Madness: 5 squads in danger of busting brackets with early NCAA tournament exits
Today’s March Madness challenge is to find a few high-profile players who can be on the lookout for the first round. Get out of the brackets and let’s break down some commands that are in possible danger.
[Free bracket contests for both tourneys | Printable Women’s | Men’s]
Marquette, seed #2 in East Region
Marquette took advantage of Creighton’s weakness in the Big East, aiming for the league title. Head coach Shaka Smart will need a new trophy case to store all of his end-of-season awards. But Marquette is Vermont’s surprisingly small 10.5-point favorite; the betting public has been on Catamounts since this game opened. Vermont has what you want from a live underdog: they have a low turnover team, an experienced roster, and the team is in great shape with 15 consecutive wins to qualify for the tournament. The NCAA Tournament is not new to Vermont either; The cats have made nine trips in the last two decades. I will score points, and disappointment does not shock me.
Virginia, No. 4 seed in the Southern Region
Despite being in fourth place, Virginia is only 5.5 points favorite over Furman. The Cavaliers play at a slow pace; they rarely run and are taught to avoid attacking boards. And it’s not like Virginia’s semi-judicial crime croons either. Furman is an effective attacking team that enters the tournament with a 14-1 streak. This game must be competitive for two hours.
Duke, fifth in the East
Full disclosure, I expect Duke to go far in the tournament. It is the highest ranked team in the field and the country’s top recruiting class has grown well after a slow start. But the selection committee gave Duke no help in the first round, sending Oral Roberts into the fight on Thursday. Oral Roberts is a mid-major with a star scorer (Max Abmas), an interior destroyer (7-foot-3 center Connor Vanover) and a March resume (this team made the Sweet 16 in 2021). This moment will not frighten the Golden Eagles.
Miami, 5th in the Midwest region
We know that 5-12 matches often lead to disappointments, and Miami can’t be happier about recruiting Drake’s experienced, close-knit team. Sophomore Tucker DeVries (playing for his father, Darrian) is the star and is surrounded by four senior players. Miami is worried about inside ace Norchad Omier, who suffered an ankle injury at the start of last week’s loss to Duke. Miami is just the favorite with 2.5 points.
Creighton, 6th seed in the South Region
Creighton has been a teasing program all year. Chosen as the Big East favorite, Creighton lost a six-game streak in December and dropped out of the top 20 entirely. The roster glass can be half full or half empty, depending on your view – Creighton has one of the best starting fives in the country, but he gets very little production off the bench. North Carolina State takes great care of basketball and is one of the most experienced teams in the tournament. Good defensive play makes any underdog delightfully alive; I’ll take NC at +5.5 and study the money line.