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March Madness Teams Already In - Part 5

Syracuse (16-9)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

Tournament Seed Ranking: 11

March Madness and the Syracuse Orange are almost synonymous at this point under the watchful eye of head coach Jim Boeheim. They may not have the most impressive record, but make no mistake, the Orange managed some very impressive, quality wins this season. Tournament teams such as Georgetown, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Clemson have all suffered defeats at the hands of Syracuse this season. The Orange are often exactly what everyone expects them to be. You know they will run their classic 2-3 zone on most defensive possessions and they will play through their best players in Buddy Boeheim and Quincy Guerrier on the offensive side of the ball. I believe an argument can be made that the Orange are a tad predictable, but I also think a case can be made that they are simply consistent. Whichever side of that debate you land on, does not change the fact that Syracuse is a hard out no matter what your style of play is. They are not afraid to let it fly from three if need be, nor are they afraid to run the floor if that is what can work against an opponent. The Orange are all aware that they must sprint back on defense regardless, so they do have a level of variety to their offence because of this mindset. The most threatening part of Syracuse's game is their ability to make teams pay at the free throw line. Teams are forced to play clean defence because if the Orange get to the line they can bury you quick with their 79% free throw shooting. What is troublesome about the Orange is that they can sometimes get exposed in their defensive zone. If a team can shoot well from deep, the Orange can find themselves in trouble very easily. It is essential in games against good three point shooting teams that Syracuse finds a way to get steals to gain extra offensive possessions.

Creighton (20-8)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2018

Tournament Seed Ranking: 5

Creighton is an incredibly efficient shooting team. They shoot nearly 48% from the field and they hit an incredibly impressive 10 three pointers per game. What is odd about them however is they are one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the entire country as they rank 326th in free throw percentage. The Bluejays also leave quite a bit to be desired in regard to rebounding and defense. Creighton ranks 149th in total rebounding and 90th in defensive rating. It is no secret how Creighton plans to defeat teams. They will look to shoot the lights out night in and night out. They do not turn the ball over very often so that certainly plays into their hands, but they are a team that must make shots to stay in games. If the ball isn't falling, Creighton struggles mightily. The Jekyll and Hyde story of Creighton is easily highlighted by simply looking at their schedule. Creighton managed to win at least one and lose at least one against teams such as Georgetown, Butler, Marquette, Villanova and Xavier to name a few. This to me screams that Creighton is a team that could quite literally beat or lose to anyone, and in a tournament based on "win or you are out" games, the Bluejays have to shoot perfect to keep their hopes of a national title alive.

Maryland (16-13)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

Tournament Seed Ranking: 10

Where to begin with the Terrapins? They do everything just okay. They are not particularly special at shooting the ball, they are quite weak at rebounding and they are only average at getting team assists. They are great at avoiding turnovers when on offense, which is great, but they seriously struggle at creating steals so they never really run away with the turnover battle. I suppose what needs to be known about Maryland is they won't beat themselves. Being average is sometimes okay because you aren't forcing things and you're letting the game come to you. The fear with being average is ending up playing a better team than you who is having a good game. Their good game will beat your good game if they are a more talented team, so Maryland will have to find a way to create more possessions offensively to get by the top dogs of the tournament. Perhaps the Terrapins have a different look or two in their bag that they are just waiting to unleash in the tournament. I will say this much, if they became a team that wanted to try to push the pace of games it would shock many because they have played a slow scheme all season long. Keep an eye on Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala to step up if Maryland is to make any sort of significant run in the tournament.

Wisconsin (17-12)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

Tournament Seed Ranking: 9

Wisconsin is another squad that seems to be essentially a perennial tournament team at this point. They are a team that needs to find a way to attack the paint more, as their field goal percentage is a mere 42%. They do make up for this poor average a bit in the fact that they hit nearly nine three point shots per game and shoot just shy of 77% from the free throw line. The inside woes do not stop at the field goal percentage either as Wisconsin has serious rebounding concerns. The Badgers only manage to pull down around 31 rebounds per game and under seven of those are coming on the offensive glass. Luckily for Wisconsin they are one of the very best teams in the country in turnovers, as they only give up about nine turnovers per game. Much like Maryland however, they have struggled all season long at creating steals so they're yet another team that will not always necessarily win the turnover battle even though they rarely give the ball up. I do think Wisconsin is capable of playing solid defense, but I worry about how they may fair against a team such as North Carolina that likes to push the pace of games and make defenses rush to set up. If Wisconsin wants to make a run they have to find a way to compete for boards more and I think that starts with attacking the rim and crashing the boards.

Florida State (16-6)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

Tournament Seed Ranking: 4

Florida State will be one of the most difficult outs in the entire tournament as Leonard Hamilton has the Seminoles playing incredibly solid team basketball. The Seminoles are very effective from the field as they shoot just under 48%, and they are also quite effective from the three point line when game scripts take them that route, shooting a little under 40% from deep. Generally if games are chippy they can punish teams with their 74% average from the free throw line. They also will never be found shying away from the boards as they come down with nearly 35 boards per game, including 10 in the offensive zone. Where we may see Florida State struggle is in the turnover game. They find themselves rushing forced passes at times and it can often lead to points in the wrong direction against them. They can often make up for these miscues by getting steals of their own, but if they have a game where their opponent is making all the right passes they could be in tough. This team normally goes as M.J. Walker and Scottie Barnes go, so pay close attention to the guard play of Florida State. Decision making will be crucial for these two players and they really can dictate the fate of the Seminoles.

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