Everyone is talking about top seeds or Cinderella teams in the NCAA tournament, but there are some bigger names that are being overlooked. These schools will make some seriously deep runs and could even be heading to Atlanta.
Michigan State Spartans
In the Midwest region, all of the love is going to Louisville, Duke and even Saint Louis. The Spartans still have a No. 3 seed and a pretty impressive resume.
The Spartans finished with a 25-8 record and an impressive 13-5 record in the Big Ten. They held their own in the conference, beating teams like Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
A lot of the firepower for the Spartans comes from Keith Appling and Adreian Payne. Appling has been sensational running the offense, averaging 13.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Meanwhile, Payne has the become the true impact player for the team with 10.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, all while shooting an electric 56.3 percent. His range has been very surprising coming from a big guy, shooting 45.5 percent from behind the arc.
The Spartans match up well against a lot of the good teams in the Midwest. Guys like Payne and Derrick Nix play solid defense and could match up well against Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly of Duke. Appling and Gary Harris could match up well against Russ Smith and Louisville’s backcourt.
This is a fun team to watch, and they’re battle tested.
Watch out for a deep run by the Spartans.
With Miami and Indiana in the East region, the Orange haven't been getting a lot of love.
The Orange had some ups and downs this season, but the team had a solid regular season. The Orange went 26-9 and went 11-7 in the Big East. They beat solid teams all year, including Georgetown, Louisville and Notre Dame.
What makes this team so dangerous is the talent. Michael Carter-Williams has been a fantastic point guard, averaging 7.7 assists per game, which is the third most in the NCAA. C.J. Fair has led the team in scoring, averaging 14.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. His shooting has been solid, especially behind the arc where he shoots 49.1 percent. James Southerland is a terrific scorer as well, scoring 13.9 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting.
With so much talent, this team has the tools to topple Indiana and make a trip to Atlanta.
The Gators have been to the Final Four multiple times in the last decade, but the focus in the South region is on Kansas, Georgetown and VCU.
The regular season went pretty smoothly for the Gators. They went 26-7, finished 14-4 in the SEC, and beat teams like Wisconsin, Ole Miss and Missouri.
Even though the Gators shoot an impressive 48.1 percent from the field, the thing that really stands out for their team is their defense. They only allow 53.7 points per game, the third fewest in the entire country. They also hold their opponents to only 37.7 percent shooting, the sixth best in the NCAA.
Billy Donovan has been there before, and he knows how to lead a team to an NCAA championship. Just because the Gators are a No. 3 seed doesn’t mean they won’t make it out of the South. Be wary of the Gators, because their defense will lead them deep in this tournament.
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