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  • Paul Harto Jr

March Madness Teams Already In- Part 7

Utah State (20-8)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

NCAA Tournament Seed Ranking: 11

The Aggies were on the bubble coming down the stretch. A strong run in the Mountain West tournament that ended with a loss to San Diego State vaulted them into the field. Utah State's success really depends on defensive player of the year and walking double-double Center Neemias Queta. The Aggies grabbed a tough draw in Texas Tech, but this is one of the 6-11 matchups that could end in an upset.

Wichita State (16-5)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2018

NCAA Tournament Seed Rank: 11

The Shockers continued to roll along this year and captured another AAC regular season crown. However, the AAC tournament was a different story as they barely escaped South Florida with a one point win and then lost to Cincinnati in the semifinals. Wichita State can really defend as they are top 30 in field goal percentage and 16th against defending the three. The problem is their offense as they only shot 40% from the field. Leading scorer Tyson Etienne needs to step up and lead the way. The Shockers are tournament tested and will be a great first four matchup with Drake.

Drake (25-4)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2008

NCAA Tournament Seed Rank:11

The Drake Bulldogs have been the darlings of college basketball for most of the year, after starting the season 18-0. However, since then they have struggled, losing twice to conference champion Loyola. Drake is a veteran-led squad that is balanced on both ends of the floor. This year, the Bulldogs shot about 50% which ranks them 13th in the nation and they will need to shoot it well as they are one of the shortest teams in the bracket. When Drake makes their threes, they can beat anyone in the country, but they need big man Darnell Brodie to stay out of foul trouble and be a physical presence for them. The first four matchup with Wichita State should be an interesting clash of style.

VCU (19-7)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019

NCAA Tournament Seed Rank: 10

The Rams have become a tournament staple. Making a deep run in the A-10 tournament helped punch their ticket into the field. The Rams biggest strength is their pressure defense which, when clicking, can cause chaos and turnovers but it's also their biggest weakness when it's not clicking as it leads to easy points and fouls piling up. The Rams are led by player of the year Nah'Shon Hyland and his nearly 20 points per game. The matchup with Oregon probably comes down to how it's officiated. If it's called close, I like Oregon to get the Rams in foul trouble and take the win, but if they let them play, VCU could easily pull the upset.

Rutgers (15-11)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 1991

NCAA Tournament Seed Rank: 10

It's been 30 years since the Scarlet Knights have made the big dance, and they haven't won a tournament game since 1983. They started fast out of the gate going 6-0 but then stumbled their way through the Big Ten meat grinder. Their 5-8 record in tier one is what punched their ticket. Defense carries this squad as they are one of the longest teams in the field which makes them one of the best shot blocking teams in the country. Plus, they average almost eight steals a game as well. Their matchup with Clemson is very interesting. I wonder if having the Big Ten tournament teams staying in Indianapolis will help them get into a familiar rhythm? Having not played in the tournament in 30 years could be a gift or a curse as they don't know what to expect, but with no crowd, I like them to make a good showing against Clemson.

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