NCAA Bracket 2012: 12 Teams That Shouldn't Even Show Up to Play
For all the optimism built into Selection Sunday—especially after VCU went from the First Four to the Final Four in 2011—there are plenty of teams who have a harsh truth to face this morning. Having realized the dream of earning a spot in the field of 68, they now have just a few days to prepare for a once-in-a-lifetime thrashing on national television.
Chief among those unfortunates are the 16th seeds, laboring under the weight of an 0-108 all-time record against the tournament’s top seeds. For teams such as UNC-Asheville, it would (almost) be just as well if the season had ended with last night’s bracket announcement.
Herein, a look at the Bulldogs and 11 more squads that will wish they’d stayed home after their March Madness openers this week.
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There’s an excellent case to be made that BYU shouldn’t be showing up on Tuesday because they shouldn’t even have gotten an at-large bid.
Although the Cougars finished a respectable 25-8, they have just one win against a team in the field of 68 (at home over 10th-seeded Gonzaga).
Freshman PG Matt Carlino is in for a nightmarish matchup against Iona star Scott Machado (the national leader with 9.9 assists a game, not to mention 13.6 points a night).
Add in ex-Seton Hall PF Mike Glover to neutralize Cougar star Brandon Davies and the Gaels will send BYU to a well-deserved early exit in a First Four battle of dubious 14th seeds.
11. Southern Miss
The Golden Eagles have the regrettable distinction of playing in the tournament’s most inaccurately-seeded game. Not only are they vastly overrated as a No. 9 seed, but Kansas State is substantially underrated at No. 8.
Southern Miss finished the year in a 5-5 funk that included losses to such luminaries as Houston and UTEP.
The Golden Eagles’ remarkably inefficient offense (263rd in the country in shooting percentage, 297th in assists) doesn’t have a prayer against a bruising K-State defense that chopped 17 points a game off the scoring average of high-powered Missouri.
10. Colorado State
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Colorado State was a magnificent home-court team in 2011-12, scoring convincing wins over San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico.
Unfortunately for the 11th-seeded Rams, their first-round meeting with 30-1 Murray State is in Louisville, Kentucky—a virtual home game for the Racers but a very long way from Fort Collins.
Colorado State can’t even hope to exploit the Racers’ lack of size because its own lineup is even smaller, topping out with 6’6” senior Will Bell. Isaiah Canaan’s fast-paced offense will have the competitive portion of the game over by halftime.
9. St. Bonaventure
It’s not that St. Bonaventure doesn’t have anything going for it—after all, senior star Andrew Nicholson has been one of the best offensive weapons in the country for two seasons running (a combined average of 19.5 points a game).
No, the problem for the Bonnies is their matchup.
The A-10 champs drew battle-tested Florida State, one of the toughest defensive teams in the nation and red-hot after back-to-back wins over Duke and North Carolina.
The 6’9” Nicholson will have to contend with 6’11” Xavier Gibson and 6’10” Bernard James inside, and that duo's combined 3.4 blocks a game will be more than a match for Nicholson’s scoring punch.
Duke has the potential to be a comparatively vulnerable No. 2 seed, assuming versatile forward Ryan Kelly isn’t 100 percent by Friday’s tipoff. Lehigh, though, isn’t in much of a position to take advantage.
The Patriot League champs are led by sensational guard C.J. McCollum, whose 21.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game to rank fifth in the nation, but he doesn’t have much help on the perimeter.
Against Duke’s flotilla of sharp-shooting guards, the Mountain Hawks’ lack of depth will be their undoing.
7. Norfolk State
Congratulations, Norfolk State Spartans! You’re making the first NCAA tournament appearance in school history!
Now you get to face the best backcourt in college basketball!
Missouri's 87-guard offense ranks sixth in the nation in scoring (80.3 points a game) and third in field-goal percentage (.504), and it should have been good enough to earn a No. 1 seed after 30 wins and a Big 12 tournament title.
Instead, the second-seeded Tigers can vent their frustration over being snubbed by routing the Spartans in spite of what’s sure to be a valiant effort from 6’10” solo act Kyle O’Quinn (15.9 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game).
Image from uvmathletics.com
Small-conference teams that make a splash in March usually do so with an experienced lineup, as Vermont well knows, given the senior-laden Catamounts team that upset Syracuse in 2005.
This year’s Vermont squad, though, starts just one senior: UMass transfer Matt Glass at forward.
On the other hand, Lamar—the Catamounts’ opponent in Wednesday’s First Four battle of No. 16 seeds—starts just a single non-senior, forward Stan Brown.
The Cardinals should make short work of Vermont, but even if the America East champs escape from that matchup, loaded North Carolina looms in the Round of 64.
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After losing seven games in a soft Horizon League, it’s hard to like Detroit’s chances as a No. 15 seed. The problem is compounded by a fearsome matchup against a Kansas team that could easily have earned a No. 1 seed this season.
The Titans’ best player is sophomore guard Ray McCallum (15.6 points and 3.9 assists a game), but he’s no match for Jayhawk All-American Tyshawn Taylor.
Even with two 6’10” forwards to bang with Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Detroit just doesn’t have the talent to stay in this game.
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The LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds have put up some gaudy numbers this season (including 81.9 points a game, third-best in the nation), but all of them come down to one key stat.
LIU plays at a ludicrously fast pace, as evidenced by their 75.3 possessions per game (tops in the field of 68).
Against the punishing defense of Big Ten champion Michigan State, though, the 16th-seeded Blackbirds will slam into a wall.
No matter how fast they play, they won’t be able to rush (or panic) Tom Izzo’s team, and the Spartans’ superior muscle will grind them down for another inevitable victory by a No. 1 seed.
3. Loyola (MD)
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Like any No. 15 seed, Loyola is going to have its problems matching up with Jared Sullinger, Ohio State’s All-America power forward. The Greyhounds, though, will have even bigger problems in the backcourt.
As a team, Loyola is averaging more turnovers (13.4) than assists (12) per game this season.
That’s bad news in almost any matchup, but against the Buckeyes’ quick-handed Aaron Craft (2.4 steals a night, good for 12th in the nation), it’s going to wreck any hope of offensive rhythm for the Greyhounds.
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In addition to being complete non-factors where the postseason is concerned, Utah and South Carolina State have something else in common: they’re the only Division I teams outside of the woeful Big South conference that managed to lose to UNC Asheville.
The Bulldogs’ none-too-remarkable 24-9 record is puffed up with three victories over the likes of Montreat College, which couldn’t even muster a winning record against its fellow NAIA schools.
Now, 16th-seeded UNC-Asheville gets to prepare for 31-2 Syracuse, which hasn’t been ranked lower than fifth in the nation all season.
Never mind trying to score against the Orange’s crushing 2-3 zone—the real question for a Bulldogs team with no starter taller than 6’5” is, who gets to guard Syracuse seven-footer Fab Melo?
1. Western Kentucky
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Being a No. 16 seed is bad enough, but it doesn’t get any worse than a 16th seed with a losing record.
That’s the plight of 15-18 Western Kentucky, “champions” of the Sun Belt conference tournament after losing nine of their 16 conference games in the regular season.
Even Mississippi Valley State (which won just one game outside the SWAC all year) is likely to be too much for the Hilltoppers in their First Four matchup on Tuesday.
Of course, if WKU somehow escapes from that game, their reward will be a 30-point loss to No. 1 overall seed Kentucky.
For your printable bracket for the 2012 NCAA tournament, click here