• Kenneth Cotterill

March Madness Teams Already In - Part 3

Six teams down, another five coming at you now. We have seen some 16, 15, 13 and even nine seeded teams get automatic bids. The next five contain plenty of double-digit seeds, but it also contains the number one team in the country as well. And when you are reading this do not just scroll to Gonzaga to see my thoughts on them because your bracket depends on knowing the first four teams as well.


SEC

Missouri (16-9)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2013

Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 8


The Tigers were in and out of the AP Poll all year, picking up big wins and losses along the way. They had statement wins against Alabama, Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee during the regular season, so they have the resume to be a tournament team. That was just in their conference schedule too, as wins over Oregon and Illinois are incredibly impressive. That being said they also picked up major losses against lowly Auburn, Georgia and Ole Miss twice, most of which came late in the year so there is cause for concern. Dru Smith and Xavier Pinson are the two leaders on this team and when they play well, good things happen for Missouri. If they do end up being an eight like they are according to Andy, I truly do not know what their ceiling is. They have the potential to knock off a number one seed, but also to come out flat in the first game and lose to the nine seed. I will be taking them to win their first game regardless, but let's see if they get Illinois again.


Florida (14-9)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 9

For the fourth year in a row, the Gators from Gainesville will be playing in the big dance. Florida lost yesterday to rival Tennessee by 12, and Omar Payne threw a nasty elbow to John Fulkerson in the process. The Gators were in the middle of the SEC for most of the year, ultimately finishing in fifth heading into the conference tournament. Tre Mann has been an absolute stud as of late and he alone could take them on a deep run in March. Florida will be limping into the tournament, at least from a psychological standpoint, after losing three of four to end the year. Florida's wins over Tennessee and West Virginia were the biggest this year, but both were over six weeks ago. This is a team that will be tough to eliminate in the first game, but after that, they will not go far. Both their offensive and defensive ratings are not in the Top 100 in the country, so do not be shocked if they do not win a game.

PAC-12

USC (22-7)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 5


Tough way to end the year for USC, losing to Colorado in a nail-biter of a PAC-12 semi-final. USC went 15-5 in PAC 12 play, including their final three regular-season games. The biggest reason for their success is the play of freshman sensation Evan Mobley. Mobley, a projected top-five pick in the upcoming NBA draft, led the team with 16.4 PPG shooting a blistering 57.8% from the field. While the PAC-12 may be having a down year, they still finished second and picked up a valuable non-conference win over BYU. They also beat UCLA twice and Oregon, so their resume should be good enough to be a five or six seed. In almost every potential first-round matchup they will have the best player on the floor. They will not be immune from a potential upset, but if you are looking for a five or six seed that could make it to the second week this is the one. They rebound well and are efficient on offense, so that is a recipe for success in March.


Oregon (20-6)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 6

The number one seed in the PAC 12 regular season will not be competing for the PAC 12 title this evening. They were upset by Oregon State, but do not let this fool you because Oregon is a solid team from top to bottom. Of their six losses, only one was against a poor team. Their big wins are over UCLA and Colorado in conference play and a 13 point home win over Seton Hall in non-conference play. The Ducks shoot the basketball efficiently, especially from three, and they take care of the ball. Chris Duarte and Eugene Omoruyi both average over 16 points per game, so they have plenty of scoring. Throw in three more double-digit scorers and this team can beat you in so many different ways. If their defense can hold up then Oregon is a terrifying six seed. Much like USC, this team is not immune from dropping their opening game, but if they survive, then their next opponent will have a real fight on their hands.

UCLA (17-9)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

Andy Katz Tournament Seed Ranking: 8


It looked like UCLA was a favorite to win the PAC-12 this year, but they fell early to Oregon State in overtime on Thursday. And I am going out on a limb a bit now that UCLA will make it into the tournament. Andy Katz had them at an eight seed prior to tournament play, but they will certainly drop to a nine, if not ten seed. And that should make all seven and eight seeds very uncomfortable cause this is a good basketball team. Yes, they have lost four straight games heading in, so they are trending in the wrong direction. But on the flip side, they have the ability to turn it on as we saw with their 17-5 record to start the year. They have beaten Colorado, but that is really their only quality win on the year, so the committee will have to make a decision on this one. UCLA can flip the switch for sure, but I think they are more likely to get bounced early.

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