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March Madness Teams Already In - Part 8

SEC:


Arkansas Razorbacks (22-6)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2018 (Round of 64)

Tournament Seed: 3 (9th Overall)

BPI: 14th


The Razorbacks are one of those teams who either can lose on the first weekend or make the Final Four. Matched up with 14-Seed Colgate will be a tough task, but there is a huge hole for Colgate and that is the diversity of opponents. The Raiders have only played five opponents all year and cruised to a conference title with one loss. Arkansas will look to do what they did so well throughout the season and that is force turnovers. Arkansas averages 8.1 steals per game, 5.2 blocks and forces 15.4 turnovers. This team loves to get active on the defensive end and they will continue to do this in March. The Razorbacks also love scoring the basketball. With freshman star Moses Moody averaging 17.4 PPG, they average 82.4 points per game which is fifth in D1. For Arkansas to make a deep run they need to force turnovers and score at a high rate. With that, hop on the Muss Bus and lets enjoy the ride!


Davis's Projected Run: Final Four


LSU Tigers (18-9)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019 (Sweet 16)

Tournament Seed: 8 (29th Overall)

BPI: 24th


If you thought Arkansas loves to score the ball, well let me introduce you to the LSU Tigers. The Tigers average 82.1 points per game which is 6th in the nation behind the Razorbacks who they beat in the SEC semifinals. Freshman star Cameron Thomas leads the nation in Freshman scoring with 22.6 PPG. The difference between the Razorbacks and the Tigers is that the Tigers do not play good defense. They allow 75.3 points per game which ranks 280th in the nation. Teams ranked ahead of LSU include Towson, Nebraska and La Salle. The Tigers are also ranked the second-lowest in PPG allowed in this year's tournament only ahead of Oral Roberts. This Tigers team will need to play like they did against Arkansas to beat St. Bonaventure because the Bonnies love to score just like the Razorbacks. Impossible? No. Likely to win? No.


Davis's Projected Run: First-Round Exit


Big XII:


Kansas Jayhawks (20-8)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019 (Round of 32)

Tournament Seed: 3 (12th Overall)

BPI: 19th


The Kansas Jayhawks are one of the teams headed into March Madness with a question mark on them stemming from a couple things. One, a COVID pause that caused them to pull out of the Big XII semifinals and two, they have played up and down to their opponent all year long. In their regular-season finale they were almost upset by UTEP at home but prevailed 67-62 after being down by 14 at the half. Kansas is led by guard Ochai Agbaji who averages 14.2 PPG and shoots 39% from 3PT. They are also led by forward David McCormack who grabs 6.1 boards per game. In most statistical categories the Jayhawks are near the middle among tournament teams but the key for the Jayhawks to make another deep run will be on guard Marcus Garrett, who won National Defensive Player of the Year in 2020. Garrett clearly hasn't played as well as he did last year, but if the Jayhawks can do anything in March, he's going to have to find his DPOY game again.


Davis's Projected Run: Elite Eight


Baylor Bears (22-2)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019 (Round of 32)

Tournament Seed: 1 (2nd Overall)

BPI: 2nd


The Baylor Bears are, in many people's eyes, a team of destiny this year. Only two losses on the year and those are to the other Big XII teams on this list, but they have wins over fellow one seed Illinois and 3-seeded West Virginia (twice). The Bears have one of the most prolific offenses this year as they lead the nation in 3PT% at 41.8% and are second in the nation in offensive efficiency. They are led by 1st Team All-American Jared Butler who averages 17.1 points per game, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals. The Bears also have two guys on the wing in Davion Mitchell and Macio Teague that can light it up from three, both averaging over 14 points per game. It is really hard to beat this team because they are so lethal at the three-point mark, but now they are vulnerable after Oklahoma State beat them in the Big XII Tournament. If you force them to play the ball down low instead of playing outside you have a chance. The Bears shot 21% from three in the loss, failed to get to the free throw line and shot 38% from the field. That is extremely alarming for a team that is so efficient on the offensive end. This team may cruise until it has to play a top seed from the bottom of their region – namely the Arkansas Razorbacks.


Davis's Projected Run: Elite Eight


Oklahoma State Cowboys (20-8)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2017 (Round of 64)

Tournament Seed: 4 (15th Overall)

BPI: 35th


This Cowboys team has a special place in my heart, but I'm going to be non-biased here. This team gives up the most turnovers in this year's tournament, averaging 16 per game and are ranked 325th in the nation. Despite that, they have managed to win 20 games this year including wins over teams like Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia (twice), Oklahoma (twice) and Texas. The Cowboys lead the field in wins against tournament teams with 13. Now, many people disagreed with the committee on the seeding for the Cowboys. Most people thought they deserved a three after beating Baylor, but the one thing holding down the Cowboys was the NET and BPI rankings which relies heavily on turnovers. The star of the team is the probable #1 pick in this year's draft, Cade Cunningham, who won the Big XII Freshman – and Player – of the year awards and was a 1st Team All-American with the stat line of 20.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. However, he is not the only player who has been doing great things as sophomore guard Avery Anderson has stepped up big time the last few weeks, including a 30-point game in the regular season finale win at then ranked #6 West Virginia without Cunningham. Kalib Boone has been the key factor down low for the Pokes along with the emergence of freshman forward Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe. The one key factor for the Cowboys to make a huge run in the tournament will be on the back of the leader Issac "Ice" Likekele. He is the guy who can facilitate the court and can get you a bucket when needed. He leads the team in assists per game with four and has a 1.88 assist to turnover ratio. If Ice and senior guard Bryce Williams can return to mid-season form, this team could see something they haven't seen since the Eddie Sutton Era.


Davis's Projected Run: Final Four


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