Sometimes in life you have to call out bullshit. We live in a world where a lot of people are just playing a part, but in reality they are not really about it. We have to pull those masks off shining light on the facades.
A couple weeks ago the NCAA gave out their top 16 seeds. The unreliable AP poll has begun to faze out. In a college basketball race that seems wide open, it is hard to decipher the contenders from the pretenders. That’s what we are going to do today.
Let’s call out the college basketball teams that you think are really good, but in reality they don’t have a chance in cutting the nets in March.
Oh, the Boilermakers. Even before their loss at home to Indiana on Saturday, I wasn't sold, and they certainly didn't look any better on Thursday night against Wisconsin. They have probably the National Player of the Year in Zach Edey. Outside of Edey isn't Purdue anything special, especially away from the cozy confines of Mackey Arena. Overall, they are just 2-8-1 against the spread on the road. You can say it’s hard for anyone to win in enemy territory in the Big Ten, but this is a team that struggled against Florida State. They have two freshmen guards that struggle ball handling when they are under pressure. Purdue surprisingly ranks 200th in three point percentage. That is simply not good enough. They have sub-par role players. I just don’t see this team having the ability to make a deep run in March.
Obviously, Tennessee has some nice wins - including at home on Tuesday against Arkansas. But Rick Barnes has made it past the second weekend just two times in the past 15 years and overall, the problem I have with Tennessee, is they can only win one way. They have to make the game ugly. They have to get the benefit of the whistle. They have just two reliable shooters on the roster, and they got crushing news this week with the news that Zakai Zeigler is out with a season-ending knee injury. Point being, if you can score over 65… you are probably going to beat the Volunteers. The team has the upside to win games against the best competition. They dominated Kansas on a neutral site in the Bahamas and beat Texas in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. I can also see them being the top seed that loses to a hot shooting Eastern Washington or to a team like UC Santa Barbara. I can’t trust the Vols in the tournament. There is a zero percent chance this team cuts down the nets.
I’m really a big fan of Tony Bennett. I don’t like doubting him especially with a team composed of juniors and seniors. But, similar to Tennessee, this team can only win one way. This is a good defensive team. But they aren’t great, especially defending the three where they rank 196th in the country. Offensively, they use good ball movement and Jaylen Gardner is one of the best cutters around. I just feel they don’t do anything at an elite level. The lack of competition they play in the ACC is eventually going to hurt them. Virginia ranked 33rd in Ken Pom. Not the ideal for a top 3 seed. We are not going to see Virginia get bounced in the first round. I expect this team to get to the second weekend. I just don’t see a ton of upside with them past that.
Marquette Golden Eagles
What Shaka Smart has done with the Golden Eagles is remarkable. They lost an NBA talent in Justin Lewis and somehow got better, clinching a Big East regular season title on Saturday. The Golden Eagles starting five consists of all sophomores. Anyone on the floor can score. They have great spacing, a post presence, and spot up shooters. They don’t have a dynamic star that NBA talent that can truly change a game. Point guard Tyler Kolek has been playing out of his mind, but is a semi-athletic pass first point guard going to be your go to guy in the clutch? The Golden Eagles have gotten remarkably lucky. They beat Creighton to open Big East play without Kalkbrenner (although they avenged that loss last week in Omaha), Xavier right after they lost Zach Freemantle to injury, and Providence without star guard Jared Bynum. Will that luck run out in March? I think so.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Finally, there's Alabama, and this one even surprised me by writing it. As you can expect, it does have to do with the recent news surrounding Brandon Miller. It’s a distraction in the locker room. We don’t really know how the team feels about the situation. There are so many things going on outside the locker room, and that's before we factor in that this is a team that has four freshmen playing key roles on their squad. There is going to be a lot of pressure, and as they get deeper into the tournament, the pressure is going to ramp up. Media scrutiny is only going to get bigger the further they advance. Talent wise, Bama has the goods, but this team is going to have to show major poise and toughness down the stretch. It’s also worth noting, we haven’t had an NCAA champion that has ranked in the top 10 in pace. Bama ranks third right now. Bama hasn't been great since the Miller news broke, winning two games in overtime. Let's see if they can handle the next few weeks.
Follow Austin Montgomery on Twitter - @AMontgomeryLive
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