March Madness: 5 Darkhorses Primed to Make a Run in the Tournament
Now that the brackets have been released, it's time to start talking about which teams are going to go deep in the tournament. In this slide show I will predict five dark horse teams primed to make a run in the tourney.
When I create my bracket each year, I prefer not to choose all No. 1 Seeds, because where is the fun in that? Instead, I usually put two, three, and four seeds in my final four. Putting lower seeds in the final four can also be more rewarding now that some websites (ie. CBS sports) inserted a new scoring system that gives you more points when you predict an upset.
This year my final four is: No. 4 Texas, No. 1 Kansas, No. 1 Pitt, and No. 5 West Virginia.
Here are my predictions for five Cinderella teams in the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament.
No. 4 Seed: Texas
Texas- 27-7, Big 12
Texas has been a solid team all season, and they seem to be ready to emerge from the pack. They have been inconsistent throughout the season, beating Kansas and beating North Carolina, but then losing to a mediocre USC team by 20.
According to Kenpom.com, Texas is No. 1 in defensive efficiency, No. 19 in offensive efficiency, and No. 4 in overall efficiency.
Key to Success: Texas needs to start dealing with the zone better, stop taking bad shots, and get Jordan Hamilton out into open space. Texas needs to make a higher percentage of free throws, and regain their defensive success. Look for Tristan Thompson to continue to be a beast inside.
2010 Tournament Team that Texas Most Resembles: Michigan State
- I have Texas winning it all in my bracket
No. 5 Seed: West Virginia
Nick Laham/Getty Images
West Virginia- 20-11, Big East
West Virginia ranked fourth in Strength of Schedule and that made it hard for them to post good stats or a good record. They are, however, a very experienced team, and will look use that to their advantage when they get deep into the tournament.
Key to Success: Inaccurate shooters on the Mountaineers, such as Casey Mitchell and John Flowers, need to step up their shooting down the stretch, and West Virginia also needs to keep up the good work rebounding and on the defensive perimeter.
2010 Tournament Team that West Virginia Most Resembles: Baylor
- I have West Virginia making it to the Final Four in my bracket
No. 13 Seed: Belmont
Belmont- 30-4, Atlantic Sun
Although Belmont had a really easy schedule, they are still an impressive team.
Belmont has won 12-straight games, and has held their opponents to under 60 points 15 times over the course of the season. Belmont ranks ninth in the country in field goal efficiency, fourteenth in offensive rebounding, nineteenth in the country in defensive efficiency, and second in the country in forced turnovers, and boast 11 players that average over 10 minutes per game.
Belmont is an all around good basketball team that has the potential to make it fairly deep into the NCAA Tournament.
Keys to Success: Stick with their roots, keep everyone involved. Keep shooting well from the arc, keep doing well on the offensive boards, and keep creating turnovers. There is really nothing to change for this Belmont team as they have been superb all year.
2010 Tournament Team Belmont Most Resembles: Old Dominion
- I have Belmont getting to the Sweet 16 in my bracket
No. 4 Seed: Louisville
Louisville- 25-9, Big East
Louisville had a Top 25 ranked Strength of Schedule, and performed well against the elite competition they have faced.
8-5 against the Top 25, including wins against Notre Dame, Connecticut (2x), Pitt, Syracuse, West Virginia, St. Johns, Villanova, Butler, UNLV, and Marquette (2x), they are rated fifth in defensive efficiency by Kenpom.com, and twelfth in assists per possession.
Key to Success: Louisville needs to continue making threes, and needs to get more of an inside presence from Terrence Jennings to make a long run in the tourney.
- I have Louisville losing to Kansas in the Sweet 16, but I think they have the potential to beat Kansas...but I don't have the guts to pick it.
No. 7 Seed: Washington
Washington- 23-10, Pac-10
The Huskies can do everything—run, shoot threes, create turnovers and offensive rebound—and also have arguably the best guard in the country: Isaiah Thomas. They have a lot of experienced players like Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning and that has proved to be an important thing to have come March.
Keys to Success: FREE THROW SHOOTING!!! Their lack of savvy in the free throw shooting department has killed them in close games throughout the season.
- I have Washington losing in the Sweet 16 to UNC, but I think they have a good chance at upsetting the Tar Heels