NCAA Automatic Bid Team Breakdown - Part 5
Big 12 Conference Champion - Texas (19-7)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2018
Tournament Seed Ranking: 3
The Texas Longhorns are a team that butters its bread with rebounds. Coming in at 35th in the NCAA at rebounding, the Longhorns often look to bully teams on the glass. The rebounds come from many, but the feature players to watch on the glass are forwards Jericho Sims, Kai Jones and Greg Brown, who are all averaging five rebounds per game or more. This team wins games by committee as they have four players averaging in the double digits in points per game. If there is one major concern for this squad, it is their issues with turnovers. Texas averages over 14 turnovers per game which assuredly could knock them out of the tournament if they face a team that is efficient offensively. All in all, the Longhorns are a well-rounded team that is cohesive on both ends of the court. No one is necessarily featured on this team which can be a blessing and a curse. They win as a team and they lose as a team, so the Longhorns must hope that they can win games without anyone needing to take a game over.
Big East Conference Champion - Georgetown (13-12)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2015
Tournament Seed Ranking: 12
Georgetown is yet another squad that looks to batter teams under the basket. The Hoyas are averaging nearly 37 rebounds per game which is good for 26th in the country. Jamorko Pickett, Jahvon Blair, and Qudus Wahab are the Hoyas' quintessential big three as each player is averaging over 12 points and three rebounds per game. The rebounding numbers may have something to do with the fact that the Hoyas only shoot about 42% from the field. This type of shooting is likely the main issue for this team as they often shoot themselves out of games. Tack on the fact that Georgetown turns the ball over nearly 16 times per game and you find yourself looking at a losing formula. Nonetheless, Georgetown willed their way to a Big East title taking down an undermanned Villanova, as well as Seton Hall and Creighton. Georgetown is a team that may be getting hot at the right time. I don't expect a ton of success from them in the tournament, but crazier things have happened. If they continue to battle hard for every rebound and potentially find themselves at the free throw line often, they could have a fighter's chance against anyone. The Hoyas shoot almost 77% from the free throw line, so it goes without saying they must find a way to take advantage of such a skill.
PAC-12 Conference Champion - Oregon State (17-12)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2016
Tournament Seed Ranking: 12
Oregon State heavily relies on the play of guard Ethan Thompson. Thompson leads the team with just shy of 16 points per game with an added four assists. The Beavers rank 314th in pace in the NCAA, and while that may be bad against some teams, it can also be a blessing. The Beavers slower offensive nature can make it so they can control games, so long as they are not trailing. It also allows them to use their clock wisely and try to find the best available shots possible. Shooting 35% from three and 76% from the free throw line keeps them in most games and allows them to make the odd mistake. What is troubling about this team is they only get about 31.5 rebounds per game. This simply won't do against any team with a solidified center or power forward. The Beavers move the ball well in the half court as they average 15 assists per game, and they do not turn the ball over often as they only have about 11.5 turnovers per game. All these numbers add up to a picture of a scrappy team that is patient and that will try to wear their opponents out. It is important for Oregon State to stay committed to an efficient style of offense because their defense leaves a lot to be desired. Six steals per game will not cut it if they are facing a high powered offense.
American Athletic Conference Champion - Houston (24-3)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2019
Tournament Seed Ranking: 2
Houston is another slow moving offence, coming in at 296th in pace in the NCAA. What they lack in total field goal percentage, they tend to make up for in three point shots made, as they average nearly 9.5 three pointers per game. This is a team that loves to let it fly from deep because they know they can get away with it given that they are the fifth best total rebounding team and third best offensive rebounding team in the country. Houston also relies heavily on their ability to create turnovers. The Cougars get over eight steals per game and they only turn the ball over around 11 times per game. When teams are able to win the turnover battle, they are often able to control games. Few teams are as good at doing this as Houston. The biggest concern for Houston is that they did not face nearly as tough of a regular season schedule as most teams in the top 25. Houston made a habit of beating teams they were supposed to, and while that should not be a knock on them, it should indicate that they could potentially be underprepared for higher caliber opponents. Their ability to create more possessions on the defensive side of the ball will help them against most teams, but if they have an off day shooting from three they could find themselves losing to just about anyone.
Atlantic 10 Conference Champion - St. Bonaventure (16-4)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2018
Tournament Seed Ranking: 9
The Bonnies are potentially the slowest paced offense in the entire tournament. St. Bonaventure ranks 332nd in pace in the NCAA. There is nothing glaringly incredible about the team, other than the fact that they only turn the ball over around 11 times per game, but at the same time, there is nothing glaringly bad about them. A lack of steals could be a concern defensively, but if the Bonnies can manage to get hands in faces during shots they may not have to lean on turnovers to take control of games. This is an important point to note on the Bonnies because they do in fact rank in the top 22 in the NCAA in total defensive rating. Much like Texas, the Bonnies win by committee, as they have five players averaging over 10 points per game. What St. Bonaventure will look to do is play classic, solid team basketball. They will try to take advantage of teams weaker shooters and will look to force possessions into the hands of players of lesser importance on opposing teams. Knowing that they have a bucket in the bank from most of their lineup, the Bonnies will undoubtedly be business as usual on the offensive end. It is on the defensive end that the Bonnies will have to place most of their effort. If hands are in faces they can win games. If they lack at some point defensively, or catch a team with a hot shooter, they could be in tough.
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