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  • Kenneth Cotterill

March Madness Teams Already In - Part 1

This series of articles will break down the teams that are already out of their conference tournaments in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 12. All of these teams were ranked in the Top 25 at some point during the season and their resumes are strong enough to have them in already. None of these teams are ranked lower than an eighth seed in the latest Andy Katz bracket, so it would be an absolute shock if they are not included in the field. Katz bracket was last updated on Wednesday, so with games occurring since then these rankings could still change, but for now, let's look at who is going to be in for the ACC and Big 12.


Virginia (18-6)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 5

COVID-19 struck again today as Virginia had to cancel their semi-final game against Georgia Tech. No one dislikes Virginia more than me, but for the first time in a long time, I actually believe Virginia could go deep in the tournament. The main reason for this is Virginia is the 22nd ranked offense in the country. No one ever doubted that this team could defend when needed, but the concern for me was always if they played a hot-shooting team, did they have enough firepower to come back? Sam Hauser and Jay Huff have been special for Tony Bennett's Cavaliers, but they are much deeper than just those two guys. Kihei Clark is a quick distributer and Trey Murphy provides some secondary scoring as well. Virginia will now be rested and are a scary five seed for who most consider to be the strongest ACC team in a down year for the conference. Virginia has been upset before, even as the one seed, so wait to see who they match up with, but this is a dark horse team for me to make the final four.

Clemson (16-7)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2018

Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 6

Shoutout to Clemson student manager Conner Pederson and the Tigers team for a great year so far. That being said, it has been an up and down year, to say the least. On one hand, Clemson has beaten Florida State, Purdue, Alabama and Maryland, three of which were double-digit wins. On the other hand, they also lost to Virginia by 35, Duke by 26 and then worst of all Miami by three in the ACC tournament. This is the true definition of a team that could get hot and make the sweet sixteen or they could lose to a small conference winner in the first round. They play a very slow game but are not a particularly great rebounding or shooting team. If they can bear down defensively and force teams to play at their pace I like them against any team in the country. You give them a fast-paced, hot-shooting team in the first round though and they could get blown out. The jury is still out on this Clemson Tigers team.

Virginia Tech (15-6)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 7

I have said it all year that I think Virginia Tech are frauds. Now, all the credit in the world to this program, that is heading to their fourth straight NCAA tournament. It is a testament to second-year coach Mike Young who is doing wonders for the program. They knocked off a preseason top-five team in Villanova to open their season and also knocked off Clemson and Virginia in ACC play. But what concerns me the most is that they have been flat on quite a few games this year. They lost to a bad Pittsburgh team by 11 on the road, Syracuse by 18 on the road and an average Penn State team by 20 at home. They lost three of their last five games overall, so they will not be heading into the tournament with much momentum. Nothing about their statistics really stands out, as they are middle of the road in almost every category, so when you don't really specialize in anything it concerns me. They, like Clemson, play at a slow pace, so be weary if a fast-paced team plays them in round one.

Big 12

West Virginia (18-9)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2018

Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 3

I am a big fan of Bob Huggins, but boy is his team limping into the NCAA tournament. The three seed that Katz gave them is likely to become a four seed after back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State. Throw in a Baylor loss at the start of March as well and you have a team that has lost three of their last four. Derek Culver looked very ill yesterday against the Cowboys, but it allegedly is not COVID related so hopefully he is ready for the tournament. West Virginia has relied on their offense most of the year, because defensively they are rated 197th in the nation. The Mountaineers go after offensive boards like crazy, as they rank fifth in the country in that category, so lots of second-chance points. Culver, along with Miles McBride and Taz Sherman will be the difference makers in how far this Huggins team goes. As long as Culver is healthy I am not too concerned about this team getting upset early, but monitor that leading up to the first round.

Oklahoma (15-10)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 5

The Sooners from Oklahoma just fell to a tough Kansas Jayhawks team 69-62 last night. The fact that this game was even close after Oklahoma was down 20 points at the half is a miracle. The Sooners scored just 15 points in the first half but dropped 47 in the second half thanks to Brady Manek's 19 point performance. Oklahoma has an incredibly solid resume on their hands, picking up wins over West Virginia, Alabama, Texas and Kansas this year. When you have wins over ball clubs like that you are going to get a favorable tournament ranking, even with ten losses. There is certainly cause for concern though, as Oklahoma lost five of their last six games, including a loss to lowly Kansas State. Manek, Austin Reaves and De'vion Harmon lead the way for this team, but nothing really stands out about them. They are not incredibly strong at anything, but they take care of the basketball (just 11.1 turnovers per game, T30th in the country). If you are looking for an 11 or 12 seed to upset this team I could definitely see this happening. Keep an eye out for good rebounding or a three-point shooting team matching up against Oklahoma.

Texas Tech (17-10)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 5

This highly-touted Red Raiders squad will be heading into the NCAA tournament limping as well. Losses to Baylor and Texas will not hurt their resume, especially since they just beat Texas a couple of weeks prior, but still be a tad concerned. Texas Tech had a lot of turnover from last year's team, but big-name transfer Mac McClung has been great. He leads the team in scoring despite shooting just 42% on the year. Texas Tech has proven they can beat anyone and what impresses me the most about them is that they did not lose to a bad team all year. All of their losses came against teams who will be playing next week, so they beat who they should. They have solid offensive and defensive ratings and don't turn the ball over a lot, making them a scary potential five seed. I could see this team making a deep run, but let's see who they land before I get too ahead of myself.

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