In addition, no team seeded ninth or lower has ever won the NCAA tournament, with No. 8-seed Villanova (1985) still standing as the biggest shocker in college basketball history to win the dance.
Now that we’ve gotten an introductory lesson out of the way, let’s move on to some advanced concepts, shall we?
1. Kansas Jayhawks (30-4 SU, 20-11 ATS, 11-19-1 O/U): 2016 marks the sixth time in the last 10 years that the Jayhawks have landed a No. 1 seed, with the other four years in question featuring three No. 2 seeds and one No. 3 seed. The Jayhawks enter the tournament as perhaps the hottest team in the nation following a 14-game winning streak that included an 11-3 record against the spread.
1. North Carolina Tar Heels (28-6 SU, 16-17-1 ATS, 17-17 O/U): This is the sixth time the Tar Heels have earned a No. 1 seed under head coach Roy Williams. Of those six instances, two have resulted in national championships, one resulted in a trip to the Final Four and two others resulted in Elite Eight appearances. North Carolina is one of the best first-half teams in the country, as evidenced by the team’s first-half scoring average (39.5 pts, 7th in NCAA) and first-half scoring margin of victory (+6.6 pts, 17th in NCAA).
1. Virginia Cavaliers (26-7 SU, 17-14 ATS, 12-19 O/U): This is a methodical offense that consistently produces low-scoring finals, as evidenced by Virginia’s 12-19 O/U record this season. Of 351 NCAA teams tracked, Virginia ranks dead last in the country in possessions per game (62.4).
1. Oregon Ducks (28-6 SU, 19-12 ATS, 14-17 O/U): Since falling in back-to-back Bay Area matchups against California and Stanford, respectively, the Ducks have shifted into high gear and now own an eight-game winning streak (5-3 ATS) in which they’ve outscored the opposition by 12.2 points per game. This is one of the deadliest offenses in the country (119.4 points per 100 possessions, fifth in NCAA), but the defense is cause for concern at times (97.4 points per 100 possessions, 50th in NCAA).
2. Michigan State Spartans (29-5 SU, 22-11 ATS, 16-17 O/U): This will be the trendiest non-No. 1 seed pick to win and for good reason. No team in the country finished the season with a larger scoring margin than Sparty (+16.8), in addition to the fact that Michigan State ranked first in assists per game (20.7) and first in three-point percentage (.435). However, be advised that no team that shoots more than 35 percent of its attempts from 3-point range has won the tournament in 13 years. Sparty shot 35.3 percent of its shots from 3-point range this season.
2. Oklahoma Sooners (25-7 SU, 12-18 ATS, 13-17 O/U): The Sooners live and die by the 3-point shot more than any other team near the top of the bracket, as 38.9 percent of Oklahoma’s points were scored from behind the line this season (12th-most in NCAA). Battle tested, but they’ve failed to cover the number in five straight and nine of their last 11.
2. Villanova Wildcats (29-5 SU, 15-17-1 ATS, 17-15-1 O/U): The Wildcats rank seventh in adjusted defense (93.0 points per 100 possessions) and 11th in adjusted offense (117.2 points per 100 possessions), but faced a weaker overall schedule when compared to the other high seeds and were upset by Seton Hall 69-67 in the Big East final. Have failed to cover the number in six of their last eight outings, but rank second in the NCAA in free-throw percentage (77.7 percent).
2. Xavier Musketeers (27-5 SU, 19-13 ATS, 21-11 O/U): Upset by upstart Seton Hall 87-83 in the Big East Tournament despite closing as a 5-point favorite, Xavier enters March Madness having failed to cover the number in three of its last four outings. But take note that the Musketeers excel at getting to the stripe, as Xavier was fouled an average of 23.1 times per game this season, good for most in the entire country.
3. West Virginia Mountaineers (26-8 SU, 20-11 ATS, 14-16-1 O/U): Not only has Bob Huggins’ crew covered the spread in six of its last seven outings, but West Virginia enters March Madness having forced their opponents into more turnovers (18.1 per game) than any other program in the country.
3. Utah Utes (26-8 SU, 16-15-1 ATS, 18-13-1 O/U): The Utes are 7-2 ATS over their last nine games overall and 4-0-2 ATS over their last six matchups against Mountain West opposition. Had a nine-game winning streak snapped in the Pac-12 championship game thanks to an 88-57 blowout against top-seed Oregon.
3. Miami Hurricanes (25-7 SU, 18-12-1 ATS, 15-16 O/U): As 5-foot-11 PG Angel Rodriguez goes (11.7 pts, 4.4 assists), so go the Hurricanes. Won eight of 10 games to close out the regular season before losing to Virginia in the second round of the ACC tournament. KenPom.com ranks Miami 12th in adjusted offense, but just 44th in adjusted defense. Take note that 2016 is the 10-year anniversary of when current Miami head coach Jim Larranaga guided George Mason to an improbable berth in the Final Four.
3. Texas A&M Aggies (26-8 SU, 15-12-2 ATS, 12-17 O/U): If they get hot from deep, look out. Won their final six regular season games to claim the conference, but fell to Kentucky in overtime of the SEC title game, 82-77. Keep an eye on freshman big man Tyler Davis (11.1 points, 6.1 rebounds), who is a big reason why this program currently ranks 12th in adjusted defense (93.7 points surrendered per 100 possessions).
4. Iowa State Cyclones (21-11 SU, 15-13-1 ATS, 13-15-1 O/U): A nine-game winning streak to commence the season eventually transitioned into a 12-game stretch to close the year in which the Cyclones dropped seven matchups (5-7 ATS). On the plus side, only two teams in the entire country (Texas Southern, Northern Iowa) committed fewer fouls per game than Iowa State this season (15.5 fouls/game).
4. California Golden Bears (23-10 SU, 18-14-1 ATS, 16-17 O/U): Too bad California can’t play any tournament games at Hass Pavilion, as the Golden Bears went a perfect 18-0 at home this season. However, Cuonzo Martin’s program finished just 5-10 away from the Berkeley campus, which included a March 3 heartbreaking defeat at Arizona by the final score of 64-61.
4. Kentucky Wildcats (26-8 SU, 18-16 ATS, 19-14-1 O/U): Led by the best point guard in America in Tyler Ulis (17.2 points, 7.2 assists), the Wildcats enter March Madness having won and covered in five straight contests. The opposition can’t afford to lose track of freshman guard Jamal Murray (20.1 points, 5.1 rebounds), who can burn you from deep in a hurry (42.1 percent from three-point range). Predictably, head coach John Calipari was pissed off about his team’s draw in the tournament.
4. Duke Blue Devils (23-10 SU, 13-17-2 ATS, 14-18 O/U): Freshman guard Brandon Ingram (16.8 points, 6.8 rebounds) could be the No. 1 overall pick in this summer’s NBA draft. However, note that the Blue Devils went 3-4 SU over their final seven contests and failed to cover the spread in each of their last five games. This is a Top-25 three-point shooting team (38.7 percent) that ranks fourth in the NCAA in first-half scoring (40.6 points per game).
5. Maryland Terrapins (25-8 SU, 15-16-1 ATS, 12-19-1 O/U): One of the most lethal starting fives in the country, assuming they are on the same page. The Terrapins were a streaky group this season, winning 15 of 16 to open the year before dropping five of eight to close out their campaign. Could go all the way to the Final Four or see their hopes dashed before the end of opening weekend. A second-round date with California in Spokane would be must-see television.
5. Baylor Bears (22-11 SU, 12-14-1 ATS, 15-12 O/U): They pass the ball as well as any team in the nation (17.8 assists/gm, 7th in NCAA) and are battle-tested coming out of the Big 12, with marquee wins over Iowa State and Texas, but with multiple defeats suffered at the hands of West Virginia, Kansas and Oklahoma. Senior forward Taurean Prince (15.5 points, 6.1 rebounds) is the NBA prospect to keep an eye on here.
5. Indiana Hoosiers (25-7 SU, 17-15 ATS, 15-17 O/U): Credit head coach Tom Crean for turning a disappointing 5-3 start to the season into a 20-4 closeout that included a Big Ten regular season championship. The Hoosiers enter tournament play having covered the number in four of their last six outings thanks to a high-octane offense (82.3 pts/gm, 11th in NCAA) led by senior guard Yogi Ferrell (17.0 points, 5.5 assists, 3.9 rebounds). Be advised that a possible second-round date with Kentucky looms large.
5. Purdue Boilermakers (26-8 SU, 18-11-1 ATS, 15-15 O/U): Fifth in the NCAA in assists (17.8 per game), 10th in rebounding (41.2 per game) and 18th in adjusted defense (94.5 points surrendered per 100 possessions), Purdue should be respected if not feared in the Midwest Region. Seven-foot senior center A.J. Hammons, 7-foot-2 sophomore center Isaac Hayes and 6-foot-9 freshman forward Caleb Swanigan will make life miserable for those who try to penetrate. Big-time dark horse candidate right here.
6. Texas Longhorns (20-12 SU, 16-15 ATS, 13-17-1 O/U): What you need to know about Texas is that Shaka Smart’s program is the most battle-tested team in the nation, with a strength of schedule Pythagorean rating of .7732, according to KenPom.com.
6. Arizona Wildcats (25-8 SU, 16-17 ATS, 22-11 O/U): A top-notch scoring unit that ranks 17th in adjusted offense (116.1 points per 100 possessions) and 31st in 3-point efficiency (38.3 percent), but struggles on the other end of the floor (69.0 points per game allowed, 102nd in NCAA). Take note that the Over has hit in 66.6 percent of all Arizona games this season. However, the Wildcats failed to cover the number in seven of their last nine outings and must travel all the way to Providence, Rhode Island for opening weekend.
6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (21-11 SU, 14-15-1 ATS, 15-15 O/U): Tough to handicap due to their inconsistent nature, as the Irish were up and down all season while never winning more than four consecutive games during any stretch. Offense isn’t the problem (117.8 points per 100 possessions, 10th in NCAA), but the defense leaves a lot to be desired (103.7 points surrendered per 100 possessions, 172nd in NCAA). The player to watch is junior guard Demetrius Jackson (15.5 points, 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds).
6. Seton Hall Pirates (25-8 SU, 23-9 ATS, 14-18 O/U): One of the most profitable programs in all the land (23-9 ATS), Seton Hall caught fire down the stretch with nine wins over their last 11 regular season games before scorching Creighton, Xavier and Villanova in the Big East tournament en route to a conference championship. The Pirates have covered the number in six of their last seven outings, are in the big dance for the first time in a decade and have one of the most bankable big men in basketball in Angel Delgado (10.0 points, 9.4 rebounds). Watch out.
7. Iowa Hawkeyes (21-10 SU, 14-14 ATS, 14-14 O/U): Raced out to a 19-4 start before running out of gas at the end of the season, resulting in a 2-6 mark over the program’s final eight games which included a first-round exit in the Big Ten tournament. Even worse, Iowa covered the number just once over its final eight contests this season. Hard to get behind a team in such poor form at such a critical time.
7. Oregon State Beavers (19-12 SU, 16-13-1 ATS, 20-10 O/U): This is Oregon State’s first tournament appearance in 26 years, so you know the program is stoked to be here, no matter the first-round opponent (vs. VCU in Oklahoma City). The Beavers cash a lot of Over tickets (20-10 O/U, seven Overs in last eight games) and feature one hell of a senior guard in Gary Payton II (son of The Glove), who is averaging 15.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season.
7. Wisconsin Badgers (20-12 SU, 16-16 ATS, 14-18 O/U): Back in the dance despite the shocking retirement of head coach Bo Ryan in December. Got bounced from the Big Ten tournament by Nebraska in the first round, but take note that the Badgers have covered the number in 10 of their last 14 outings. Junior forward Nigel Hayes (16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists) is what makes Wisconsin tick.
7. Dayton Flyers (25-7 SU, 13-17-1 ATS, 14-16-1 O/U): Nothing about this offense will excite you, but that’s just fine because Dayton is all about getting stops, as evidenced by the fact that this program ranks 14th in the nation in adjusted defense (93.8 points per 100 possessions). The good news is that the Flyers are 12-1 this season when the roster is 100 percent healthy, which is expected for Thursday’s opening round game against Syracuse. The bad news is that Dayton has covered the spread just once over their last 10 outings.
8. Colorado Buffaloes (22-11 SU, 19-11 ATS, 15-15 O/U): Covered the spread in six of their final seven contests entering March Madness and the argument could be made that this is the most underrated team in the tournament. One of the best rebounding teams in the nation (42.4 rebounds/gm, 4th in NCAA) thanks, in large part, to the play of 6-foot-10 senior forward Josh Scott (16.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists).
8. St. Joseph’s Hawks (27-7 SU, 22-10-1 ATS, 19-13-1 O/U): The Atlantic 10 champions failed to cover in four of their final five games to close out the regular season, but went 3-0 both SU and ATS in conference tournament play despite closing as underdogs in two of three matchups. Note that St. Joe’s has been on a scoring spree as of late, recording 82 or more points eight times over their final 12 contests while averaging 82.6 points per game during that aforementioned 12-game stretch.
8. USC Trojans (21-12 SU, 18-14-1 ATS, 18-14-1 O/U): The Trojans enter the tournament having dropped seven of their last 10 games while failing to cover the spread in 10 of their last 15 contests. Junior guards Julian Jacobs (11.8 points, 5.5 assists, 4.9 rebounds) and Katin Reinhardt (11.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists) are an underrated duo without question, but Providence is going to give this team all it can handle in the Round of 64.
8. Texas Tech Red Raiders (19-12 SU, 15-13 ATS, 15-13 O/U): Big 12 Coach of the Year Tubby Smith has an explosive offense at his disposal that’s very bankable from the free-throw line (74.6 percent, 28th in NCAA). But the problems lie on the other end of the court where the Red Raiders rank 93rd in adjusted defense (100.1 points per 100 possessions). Have lost three of four entering March Madness, but do own a marquee victory over Buddy Hield and Oklahoma (February 17).
9. Connecticut Huskies (24-10 SU, 16-13-1 ATS, 13-16-1 O/U): At 78.0 percent, this is the best free-throw shooting team in the nation. Be advised that the Huskies rank just 303rd in the country in free-throw attempts (574), meaning UConn’s biggest strength has not been utilized nearly enough.
9. Cincinnati Bearcats (22-10 SU, 12-16 ATS, 10-17-1 O/U): Nothing fancy, just a solid, veteran-led squad that plays quality defense (62.9 points/gm, 10th in NCAA) and cleans up the glass (39.4 rebounds/gm, 39th in NCAA). The Bearcats won nine of their final 13 games preceding the tournament, but have covered the number just twice in their last seven outings.
9. Providence Friars (23-10 SU, 18-14 ATS, 19-13 O/U): The Friars boast an excellent one-two punch in two-way junior guard Kris Dunn (16.0 points, 6.4 assists, 5.5 rebounds) and sophomore forward Ben Bentil (21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds), but are too dependent upon the deep ball for scoring. Won four of five entering March Madness while covering five consecutive point spreads.
9. Butler Bulldogs (21-10 SU, 16-14-1 ATS, 16-13-1 O/U): The Bulldogs rank 19th in adjusted scoring (115.6 points per 100 possessions) and feature a big-time threat from 3-point range in senior guard Kellen Dunham (16.3 points, 42.8 percent from deep). They also enter the tournament having covered the spread in eight of their last 10 outings, with five of their last six contests going Over the total.
10. Temple Owls (21-11 SU, 17-13 ATS, 15-14-1 O/U): Won 10 of their final 13 games to qualify for March Madness, but the Owls are the lowest rated team (No. 86) to reach the tournament, according to Ken Pomeroy. The upside? Temple committed fewer turnovers (9.0 turnovers/gm) than any other team in the country this season.
10. VCU Rams (24-10 SU, 20-9 ATS, 14-15 O/U): Without question one of the most profitable teams in the country at 20-9 ATS on the season, the Rams still play quality defense under new head coach Will Wade, as evidenced by the fact that VCU ranked 22nd in adjusted defense this season (95.0 points per 100 possessions). The player to watch is senior guard Melvin Johnson (17.4 points, 2.6 rebounds).
10. Pittsburgh Panthers (21-11 SU, 12-17 ATS, 13-16 O/U): A solid rebounding team that works the ball around the court with the best of them (16.9 assists/gm, 14th in NCAA), Pitt has failed to cover the number in seven of its last nine outings and has lost three of its last four entering the tournament. The Panthers could get by Wisconsin in the first round, but that would likely set up a daunting date with No. 2 seed Xavier.
10. Syracuse Orange (19-13 SU, 16-15 ATS, 17-14 O/U): Very lucky to be here when you consider the Orange dropped five of their final six games to close out the season, not to mention the fact that they suffered a horrific loss to a lousy St. Johns team back on December 13. If Jim Boeheim’s crew has any hope of advancing, it will have to come on the defensive end of the floor where Syracuse ranked 38th this season in adjusted defense (96.4 points per 100 possessions).
11. Northern Iowa Panthers (22-12 SU, 19-13-1 ATS, 13-20 O/U): One of the hottest teams in the nation entering the tournament, Northern Iowa won 12 of their final 13 games of the season while going 11-1-1 ATS in the process. The Panthers love to play a slow, methodical style of basketball, as evidenced by the fact that Ben Jacobson’s program ranked 347th out of 351 schools in possessions per game this season (65.0).
11. Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-7 SU, 15-15-1 ATS, 16-15 O/U): They can score (79.7 pts/gm, 28th in NCAA), rebound (39.6 rebounds/gm, 33rd in NCAA) and defend (66.2 pts allowed/gm, 48th in NCAA), but Mark Few’s squad still needed an automatic bid to qualify for the Big Dance this season. Despite the low seed, Gonzaga checks two key boxes for us: They can knock down the 3-pointer (.378, 40th in NCAA) and are solid from the free-throw line (.760, 12th in NCAA).
11. Vanderbilt Commodores (19-13 SU, 15-15 ATS, 15-14-1 O/U): The Commodores won six of their final nine games to close out the season, but does a team with 13 losses really deserve an at-large bid to the tournament? At the very least we’ll get one more game of Wade Baldwin IV (14.3 points, 5.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds) and Damian Jones (14.2 points, 6.9 rebounds) – two NBA talents who could grind Vandy past Wichita State.
11. Wichita State Shockers (24-8 SU, 18-12 ATS, 13-16-1 O/U): No team in the country surrendered fewer points per game this season than the Shockers (59.3 pts/gm, first in NCAA). But more importantly, this is the fourth and final trip to the tournament for senior guards Fred VanVleet (12.0 points, 5.7 assists, 3.1 rebounds) and Ron Baker (14.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists). Battle tested and without question better than their current seeding indicates.
11. Michigan Wolverines (22-12 SU, 16-16 ATS, 19-12-1 O/U): Quality wins over Texas, Indiana, Purdue and Maryland have the Wolverines back in the dance despite an offense that ranks 148th in the nation in scoring (74.3 pts/gm). Take note that despite the fact that the Over is 19-12 in Michigan games this season, the Under has hit in four of the program’s last five outings.
11. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (20-11 SU, 14-13-3 ATS, 17-13 O/U): Got in over Monmouth, San Diego State, St. Mary’s and other more qualified programs because, well, you’re guess is as good as ours. Tulsa ranked outside the Top 120 in scoring offense and scoring defense, doesn’t rebound particularly well, and failed to cover the spread in four of their final five outings. Not much to get excited about here.
12. South Dakota State Jackrabbits (26-7 SU, 15-14 ATS, 14-15 O/U): In the tournament for the third time in the last five years, South Dakota State won six straight to conclude the season, but failed to cover the spread in three of its last four. This is one of the dance’s better free-throw teams at 73.9 percent (37th in NCAA).
12. Yale Bulldogs (22-6 SU, 11-6-2 ATS, 11-8 O/U): They rebound well (40.4 rebounds/gm, 20th in NCAA) and play defense even better (63.1 pts/allowed, 12th in NCAA), but a first-round matchup with the Big 12’s Baylor spells disastrous. One big plus for the Bulldogs: That first-round matchup takes place in their backyard of Providence, Rhode Island.
12. Chattanooga Mocs (29-5 SU, 16-13 ATS, 14-13-2 O/U): The Mocs have tasted defeat just twice over their last 18 games, but have covered the spread only once in their last six outings. Aggressive on defense, Chattanooga ranked 31st in the country this season in steals (7.79 steals/gm).
12. Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans (29-4 SU, 19-10 ATS, 10-19 O/U): The Trojans rank 343rd in the country out of 351 teams in terms of possessions per game (65.8), so it’s no surprise to see the Under has hit in 19 of 29 lined games. Winners of 14 of its last 16 contests, don’t be surprised to see Chris Beard’s team give Purdue all it can handle in the Round of 64.
13. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (27-5 SU, 14-12 ATS, 13-12-1 O/U): Their stellar 2015-2016 campaign deserves far better than a first-round matchup with NBA talent-rich California. Hawaii likes to bang inside and does a nice job distributing the rock (15.8 assists/gm, 38th in NCAA). Won 11 of 13 to close out the season, but covered in just two of their final seven matchups.
13. Stony Brook Seawolves (26-6 SU, 0-5-1 ATS, 4-2 O/U): Averaged 82 points per game during their three-game run through the America East Conference tournament, which featured a 15-point come-from-behind victory over Vermont in the title showdown. The Seawolves rank 61st in adjusted defense (98.4 points per 100 possessions) and will need every bit of that and more in the Round of 64 if they want any shot of knocking off Kentucky.
13. Iona Gaels (22-10 SU, 16-15 ATS, 15-16 O/U): Guard A.J. English (22.4 points, 6.2 assists) is an NBA talent who leads the NCAA’s 31st-ranked scoring offense (79.6 pts/gm). That, and the team’s ball distribution (16.8 assists/gm, 15th in NCAA), is the good. The bad is that Iona’s defense is giving up 73.7 points per game (227th in NCAA) thanks, in part, to a team that struggles on the glass (36.9 rebounds/gm, 129th in NCAA). Face No. 4 Iowa State in the first round, who was upset by UAB on Day 1 of the tournament last March.
13. UNC-Wilmington Seahawks (25-7 SU, 15-13 ATS, 16-12 O/U): A physical unit that won 16 of its final 18 matchups en route to a first-round tournament berth against the Blue Devils from Duke. This is a team that needs to take control of the paint and establish itself on the glass because of its struggles from deep (33.6 percent from 3-point range, 232nd in NCAA).
14. Fresno State Bulldogs (25-9 SU, 18-11 ATS, 17-12 O/U): Rattled off 13 victories over their final 15 games after falling 73-67 in overtime at San Diego State back on January 19. Senior Marvelle Harris is the player to watch (20.6 pts, 4.4 assists). Champions out of the not-so-daunting Mountain West Conference could be in for a rude awakening in the first round against Utah, as the game will be played in Denver at an elevation of 5,280 feet. Advantage: Utah.
14. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (27-5 SU, 2-2 ATS, 3-1 O/U): One of the hottest teams in the nation entering March Madness, the Lumberjacks haven’t lost a game since December 29 at UAB (20 straight) thanks, in large part, to beastly forward Thomas Walkup (17.5 points, 4.5 assists, 59.8 field goal percentage). Head coach Brad Underwood has lost a grand total of just 13 games during his three seasons at SFA.
14. Green Bay Phoenix (23-12 SU, 20-10-2 ATS, 18-14 O/U): The Phoenix are making their first March Madness appearance since 1996 thanks to a 78-69 Horizon League Championship victory over Wright State. One of the country’s most efficient up-tempo teams, Green Bay ranked fifth in the nation in possessions per game this season (79.6) and sixth in scoring (84.2).
14. Buffalo Bulls (20-14 SU, 17-13-2 ATS, 18-13-1 O/U): New coach, same result. After losing former coach Bobby Hurley to Arizona State, the Bulls still found a way to win the MAC under new boss Nate Oats. Went 5-0 in neutral-site games this past season, but will have their hands full with Miami in the first round.
15. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (24-9 SU, 17-14 ATS, 13-17-1 O/U): Started the season 8-5 before finding another gear to close with a 16-4 mark that included six straight wins and pointspread covers in five of their final six contests. Excellent from 3-point range (38.6 percent, 27th in NCAA), highly suspect from the free-throw line (61.7 percent, 347th in NCAA).
15. Weber State Wildcats (26-8 SU, 14-16 ATS, 13-17 O/U): Just one tournament win since 1999. The Wildcats won 10 of their final 11 games to reach March Madness, but failed to cover the spread in nine of their final 12 contests.
15. UNC-Asheville Bulldogs (22-11 SU, 6-0 ATS, 2-4 O/U): Boasts a far better defensive unit than their seeding indicates (98.2 points per 100 possessions, 60th in NCAA), excelling primarily at forcing turnovers (15.8 turnovers forced/gm, 8th in NCAA).
15. CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (24-8 SU, 3-0 ATS, 1-2 O/U): Won 10 of their final 11 contests en route to a Western Athletic Conference championship crown thanks to a defense that permitted just 63.2 points (14th in NCAA) and forced 14.9 turnovers per game (21st in NCAA) this season. First March Madness appearance despite the fact that the Roadrunners have been in Division-I for less than a decade.
16. Hampton Pirates (21-10 SU, 3-2 ATS, 5-0 O/U): Enter the tournament having won eight of their last nine matchups. While it may not matter much in a first round matchup against top-seeded Virginia, note that the Pirates are one of the best rebounding teams in the nation (41.6 rebounds/gm, 7th in NCAA).
16. Austin Peay Governors (18-17 SU, 13-15-1 ATS, 19-9-1 O/U): Set for a first-round matchup with top-seeded Kansas after concluding the season with six straight wins and four consecutive covers. Decent offense, suspect defense, not long for this tournament.
16. Southern Jaguars (22-12 SU, 3-3 ATS, 2-4 O/U): 183rd in the country in scoring (72.9 pts/gm), 185th in rebounding (36.0 rebounds/gm), 322nd in assists (10.9 assists/gm) and 105th in scoring defense (69.0 pts allowed/gm). In five career trips to the NCAA tournament, Southern has never made it out of the first round.
16. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (18-14 SU, 2-1 ATS, 2-1 O/U): Owned an overall record of 13-14 before a five-game winning streak to close out the season resulted in an automatic bid via the Northeast Conference championship. One of the worst defensive teams in the tournament (78.3 pts allowed/gm, 313th in NCAA), the Knights also struggle with turnovers (13.0 turnovers/gm, 208th in NCAA).
16. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (20-13 SU, 3-3-1 ATS, 3-4 O/U): “Dunk City” turned a four-game losing streak in late January into a nine-game stretch to close out the season that featured seven victories and an Atlantic Sun championship. This is a solid rebounding program (40.2 rebounds/gm, 22nd in NCAA) that is an even bigger long shot than the FGCU squad that stole America’s hearts three years ago.
16. Holy Cross Crusaders (14-19 SU, 5-0 ATS, 2-3 O/U): Bill Carmody’s program went winless in league play, won just two road games all season (at Marist, at Hartford) and enters March Madness as the only sub-.500 participant. Yet, somehow, the Crusaders won four straight on the road during the Patriot League tournament and earned an automatic bid and a March 16th play-in game against Southern.
*You’ll notice several references to Ken Pomeroy’s website
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