5 Teams That Will Make The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament That Shouldn’t!

Yesterday might have been the single wildest day of regular season college hoops action that I can ever remember watching. In what was the final Saturday slate of the season before jumping into the month of March, we saw upsets all over the board, including an absolutely absurd 7 of the top-10 losing! The day started with #4 ranked Purdue losing at the buzzer to Michigan State and ended with the St. Mary’s Gaels beating down the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs to close out the night.

In between those bookend games, we saw top-10 teams Arizona, Auburn, Kansas, Kentucky, and Texas Tech all lose games! If you had the day off and got to soak in all of the action, it was certainly an entertaining day, but now as college hoops fans everywhere wake up today trying to assess the carnage, there is a lot to unpack.

What did this massacre mean for the one seeds? All 4 of ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s projected one seeds lost yesterday, making the race for the top line as wide open as ever. And more importantly, what did this do to the bubble? Bubble teams like Michigan State, TCU, and Colorado all have to be feeling great about where they stand after picking up elite wins yesterday, but what about the rest of the teams hoping to hear their names called on Selection Sunday?

All week long, we here at TheSportsGeek have been breaking down the bubble, but much has changed after yesterday’s games, so now we need to take another look. Today we are going to do our best to catch you up with all of the action that went down yesterday and put everything in perspective, so you know just how yesterday’s wild day affected the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament bubble.

In this article, we are going to highlight 5 teams that I think are going to get into the madness, but that I feel don’t deserve the opportunity. These are teams that might have a resume good enough to go dancing, but are flawed, and should be passed by for more deserving squads further down the board. With that, let’s jump right into it as we head to Chapel Hill to check in on the North Carolina Tar Heels.

North Carolina Tar Heels

  • Record: 21-8
  • SOS: 54
  • Kenpom: 39
  • Net: 40
  • Good Wins: Michigan, Virginia Tech (twice)
  • Bad Losses: Pittsburgh
  • Quad 1 Record: 1-7

North Carolina Tar Heel’s new head coach Hubert Davis had to know that following up Hall of Fame head coach Roy Williams at one of college basketball’s most accomplished programs wouldn’t be easy, but I am not sure that Davis thought things would be this tough! Davis has his Heels sitting in 3rd place in the ACC, which in most seasons would be more than enough to be considered one of the top teams in the nation, but the ACC is way down this season, and I think North Carolina is riding their reputation right now much more than their actual resume, as I am not impressed.

The Tar Heel’s struggles in quad 1 games are a glaring stain on their resume, as they are just 1-7 against quality opposition. The quad system of rating teams isn’t my favorite, but the tool does have some value, and the fact that the Tar Heel’s best wins have come over Michigan and Virginia Tech, who are both bubbles teams as well, has me thinking that North Carolina doesn’t deserve a bid into the Big Dance.

Getting into the NCAA tournament is a birthright for Carolina fans, and despite their lackluster record, nearly every so-called “Bracketoligist” has the Tar Heels getting into the field of 68. Even with as mediocre as they have played all season long, North Carolina is going to get into the tournament, and that is a shame as I see several more deserving teams getting passed by just because North Carolina is a blue blood program that has won 7 national titles.

Still not convinced that North Carolina is overrated? How about I put it to you like this. Below is a list of teams that have more quad 1 victories than the Tar Heels do this season.

  • Minnesota
  • Texas A&M
  • St. John’s
  • Santa Clara
  • UC Irvine
  • Pittsburgh
  • UAB

While that is certainly not an exhaustive list of all of the teams that have beaten more quality teams than North Carolina has this season, it goes to show you just how weak their record actually is. If you don’t have Santa Clara or UC Irvine in the Big Dance, then you shouldn’t have North Carolina in either.

Tar Heels fans will push back and say, but look at all of our wins in the ACC! And to that, I respond that you can keep your wins over teams like Boston College (twice), NC State (twice), Louisville (twice), Georgia Tech (twice), and Florida State as none of them are ranked inside the national top-100 right now and they aren’t anything to write home about to say the least.

The ACC is currently the 6th toughest conference in the country, and it is closer to the 7th place Mountain West than the 5th place PAC-12. If you aren’t giving UCLA, Arizona, and USC credit for beating up on the likes of Oregon State, Arizona State, and Stanford, then you shouldn’t be showing any love to North Carolina for beating up on bad teams in the ACC to inflate their win total. The brackets won’t be out for weeks, but you can give me whichever team North Carolina plays in the first round right now, as this team is a complete fraud.

Loyola Chicago Ramblers

  • Record: 22-7
  • SOS: 109
  • Kenpom: 29
  • Net: 31
  • Good Wins: San Francisco
  • Bad Losses: Bradley, Northern Iowa, Drake (twice)
  • Quad 1 Record: 3-2

I am not going to lie, it breaks my heart to have to say this, as the NCAA tournament is just more fun when the Ramblers of Loyola Chicago are rambling in the Big Dance, but similar to North Carolina, Loyola Chicago is getting far too much attention for what they have done in the past, as people are ignoring how mediocre they have played this season. The Missouri Valley Conference is always a solid league, and this season, the conference boasts 5 teams ranked in the top-100, making the conference as good as it has ever been.

But even with the MVC having a strong season, the league isn’t one that is going to be getting multiple bids into the NCAA tournament, and the Rambler’s 5 league losses are just too many for a team looking to snag an at-large bid. The analytics love the Ramblers, as they are ranked 29th on Kenpom and 31st by NET, which means that they are currently on the right side of the bubble, but I am not buying the hype this season.

The Ramblers had a shot to go into Northern Iowa this weekend and lock down the MVC regular season title. But instead of leaving with the league title in tow, they gave up triple digits in a losing effort, and it is the Panthers that are now celebrating being the champions of the conference. The MVC is a very good mid-major conference, but not good enough that a 2nd place team should ever even be in the conversation for an at-large bid.

To make matters worse for the Ramblers, they have to now play Bradley in the 1st round of the MVC tournament this weekend, and they are going to be on upset alert all night long against the Braves. Bradley went 9-3 down the stretch, including a win over Loyola Chicago in February. The teams split their season series, with the home team winning both games, but when Loyola won way back in January, they needed overtime to get the job done.

Anything less than a trip to the MVC tournament finals would spell disaster for the Ramblers, and after seeing them lose to Drake (twice), Bradley, Northern Iowa, and Missouri State and barely sneaking past Bradley and Valpo in overtime and with single digit wins over Indiana State, Southern Illinois, Missouri State, and Illinois State, I am not a believer. I am absolutely going to be rooting for the Ramblers in the MVC tournament as I really hope that they win it and get the league’s auto-bid, but if they come up short, the shoe just doesn’t fit for me, and I feel that they shouldn’t be heading to the NCAA tournament. I am sorry Sister Jean, but the Ramblers aren’t the same team that they have been in the last couple of seasons, and they shouldn’t be playing meaningful games in March just because they are a likeable team.

Florida Gators

  • Record: 18-11
  • SOS: 51
  • Kenpom: 55
  • Net: 51
  • Good Wins: Ohio State, Auburn
  • Bad Losses: Texas Southern, Maryland, Mississippi
  • Quad 1 Record: 2-8

I would love it if the NCAA tournament Selection Committee made an example out of the Florida Gators this season and left them out of the tournament. I hate when power conference teams schedule weak in the non-conference, running up gaudy records filled with wins over bad teams and the Gators are the poster boys for that this year, as they played the 229th weakest non-conference schedule in the country this season.

It is one thing if you schedule weak and win all of your games because I guess at the end of the day, you can only beat the teams that you play. But that wasn’t even the case for Florida, as they were just 9-3 in the non-conference, with losses to Oklahoma, Maryland, and Texas Southern. The loss to Texas Southern alone should be enough to disqualify the Gators from playing in the Big Dance, as they got blown out at home by the 190th ranked Tigers by double digits.

The SEC is a really good conference this season, possibly the best league in the entire country. That makes the fact that Florida only has 2 quad 1 victories shocking, as they have had lots of opportunities to pick up signature victories in league play, but just haven’t been able to get the job done. If the season were to end today, Florida has only 2 wins over teams that project out as NCAA tournament teams, and they have conference losses to teams like Mississippi and Texas A&M, teams that aren’t even sniffing the bubble.

12 of Florida’s 18 wins came to teams ranked outside of the top-100, and if Florida does end up playing in the NCAA tournament, it would be a reminder about everything that is bad about college hoops. If it were up to me, I would much rather see a mid-major conference team like North Texas, Davidson, or Wyoming get into the tournament than a power conference team like Florida that played nobody and beat nobody all year long. The Gators will find their way into the tournament based on the relative strength of the SEC, but I have Florida high on my list of teams that are going to be one and done come March.

San Diego State Aztecs

  • Record: 18-7
  • SOS: 80
  • Kenpom: 23
  • Net: 30
  • Good Wins: St. Mary’s, Colorado State,
  • Bad Losses: None
  • Quad 1 Record: 3-7

We just talked about how I would much rather see some deserving mid-major teams get into the NCAA tournament rather than mediocre power conference teams like North Carolina or Florida, but that being said, I don’t think the Aztecs of San Diego State have done enough this year to get their dancing shoes. The Mountain West Conference should be a multi-bid league, as the conference has 7 teams in the top-100, with 6 of those teams in the top-60. The question for the MWC is, how many bids does the league deserve?

I think the MWC should get at the absolute minimum, 2 bids, and if I were choosing the field, I would award the league 3 bids. Being a mid-major conference that plays on the West Coast is tough, as many college hoops fans are asleep before these games even tip-off. That makes it hard for these teams to get attention, which hurts them on Selection Sunday.

When I look at the top of the MWC standings, I see Boise State, Wyoming, and Colorado State, all above the Aztecs. While San Diego State shouldn’t be ashamed of losses to Boise State (twice), Colorado State, or even their loss to Utah State as the Aggies are a quality team as well, those losses are really going to hurt them as the Selection Committee decides who gets in from the MWC. San Diego State has to travel to Laramie to play Wyoming in their next game, and I don’t think they are going to be able to beat the Cowboys as they are undefeated at home at 13-0 and another loss to a fellow bubble team is going to be devastating for the Aztecs.

The only reason that the Aztecs are even being considered a tournament-worthy team right now is because the analytics love them, but the eye test and the standings don’t. San Diego State has the number 1 defense in the country in terms of efficiency, and they force the longest possessions in the country on defense as well, but they aren’t great when it comes to scoring the basketball, and their ugly brand of basketball is hurting them when it comes to style points.

I love Kenpom, and even the NET rankings are growing on me now that they have been tweaked and tinkered with over the course of the last couple of seasons, but sometimes the data lies to us. Kenpom will tell you that the Big East champion Providence Friars aren’t as good as the 4th place team from the Mountain West Conference, and that is a complete joke. San Diego State is just 1-6 against the national top-50, and if the data gives them a bid that they don’t deserve, I will be supremely disappointed in the process.

Xavier Musketeers

  • Record: 17-11
  • SOS: 24
  • Kenpom: 47
  • Net: 35
  • Good Wins: Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Marquette, UCONN
  • Bad Losses: DePaul
  • Quad 1 Record: 5-8

In late January, I would have told you that the Xavier Musketeers were stone cold locks to make the NCAA tournament. On January 19th, Xavier went into DePaul and knocked off the Blue Demons on the road to run their record to 14-3 overall and 4-2 in the Big East. The Musketeers didn’t have a ton of quality victories but wins over Ohio State, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma State we decent ones, and with the Big East always being great, they had plenty of time to add additional wins to their resume.

But that just hasn’t happened, as Xavier has seen the wheels fall off in the last couple of months, as they have lost 8 of their last 11 games. The Musketeers slumped their way to a 7-10 Big East record, good for 8th place in the league standings and that has me selling all of my Xavier stock from earlier in the year. Similar to San Diego State, many of the Musketeer’s recent losses have come to fellow bubble teams, and their bad head-to-head record against those teams is going to make it tough for X to jump over them and steal a bid.

I hate to ever punish a team for playing a tough schedule, and Xavier has played one of the toughest in the country, but I don’t give teams credit just for playing a bunch of good teams, you have to win some of those games as well. The Selection Committee will never admit this but wins at the start of the season just don’t mean as much as wins at the end of the year.

As impressive as that Musketeers start to the season was when they won 11 of their first 12 games, it doesn’t change the fact that they have lost 6 of their last 7. Momentum is real in college hoops, and the Musketeers just don’t have it right now.

I almost can’t believe that not only does Lunardi have Xavier firmly in the field of 68, he has them as an 8 seed! Lunardi doesn’t rank teams where he thinks they belong, he ranks them where he thinks that the Selection Committee will, and he is generally really good at his job, which means that despite the fact that X can’t win in the last month, they are going to get into the tournament, and that is a damn shame.

Wrap Up

This year the madness came a week early, as we have seen all kinds of exciting games and upsets in the last several days, and with so much up for grabs, you don’t want to miss a minute of the action! If you aren’t able to sweat all of the games, don’t worry, as we here at TheSportsGeek are going to keep an eye on everything for you to make sure that you don’t miss a beat in March and that you have all of the high value betting advice that you need to get paid when betting on college hoops. Thanks for reading, and make sure that you stay tuned to TSG in the run up to Selection Sunday because if this weekend taught us anything, it is that anything can and will happen on the college hoops hardwood!

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Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL

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