4 Top NCAA Tournament Seeds to Avoid (2021 March Madness)
Brackets can have many landmines. While not all are easily identified, you can certainly identify a few to avoid carrying deep into your projected tournaments due to many reasons — ranging from overhype to rough competition. Whatever the case, we’re here to share our top seeds — No 1. through 4 seeds — to be wary of this March Madness.
When Virginia won the Final Four back in the 2019 season, they were the fifth-ranked team in Kenpom.com’s adjusted defensive rankings and second on offense. This team is not nearly as dominant, as they are 12th in offense and 33rd in defense. That is a big reason they are a fourth seed instead of a first seed like they were in 2019. They had a three-game losing streak in February, but it looked like they were starting to heat up heading into the ACC Tournament. After beating Syracuse, they had to withdraw from the ACC Tournament because one of their players tested positive for COVID-19. The team is in quarantine, and they may not even have a practice before they take the court against Ohio on Saturday. If they survive that game, they will likely play an excellent Creighton team that is the fifth seed and the 19th ranked team in Kenpom.com’s rankings. It is hard enough to advance in the tournament with great preparation. This Virginia team is good, but not a great team like they were in 2019. I would not be surprised to see them bow out early. This team has many hurdles to overcome if they want to stay in the NCAA tournament for longer than a game or two.
– Derek Lofland
This is a toss-up between Virginia and Kansas. But I’ll go with Virginia because I think there’s a greater chance of the Cavaliers getting upset in their first-round matchup. Both the Cavs and Jayhawks are battling COVID issues. Kansas might be without center David McCormack, which is an enormous loss. But at least Bill Self’s team can practice and will travel to Indianapolis early in the week. That’s not the case for Virginia, who will remain in quarantine until Thursday. If they pass COVID protocols, they’ll travel to Indy on Friday and have maybe two practices before tipping off against Ohio Saturday night. We’ve seen how much rust can impact a team on a COVID pause, and I’m worried this will be too tough of a task for a Virginia team that relies more on its offense than its defense. Plus, Ohio is a real threat and has an NBA prospect in Jason Preston. The defending champs will be going down early.
– Matt Barbato
The Cavaliers have been one of the lowest-scoring teams in college basketball this season, averaging 68.6 points per game while going 1-3 against opponents ranked in the Top 25. Sam Hauser is Virginia’s leading scorer, averaging just 16 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Virginia will likely find themselves in an offensive shootout against the 13th seeded Ohio Bobcats, who won the MAC and come into the tournament having scored at least 84 points across their last six games played. The Bobcats are lead by PG Jason Preston, who averages the most points (16.6), assists (7.2), and steals (1.6) per game and will be a matchup nightmare against the zone defense that the Cavaliers deploy. Virginia’s strength lies in their front-court, as Sam Hauser and Jay Huff are heavily involved on the glass. The Bobcats have a more balanced roster, with a mixture of talented perimeter shooting and front-court dominance via F Dwight Wilson III and Ben Vander Plas to earn a first-round upset over Virginia.
– Matt MacKay
Purdue opens up with North Texas, who will attempt to grind it out and leave the Boilermakers working on getting their feet under them for a potential 2nd Round matchup with a deep Winthrop team who rotates 10-12 guys and can score in the 80s. Purdue features a ton of youth which could be another cause for concern in an NCAA Tournament that will be anything but ordinary. Coming off a Big 10 tournament opening game defeat, Purdue will have to bounce back quickly, which will be a tall task for a team as young and inexperienced as they are.
– Jason Kamlowsky
We often see it where a team is overrated based on a small sample size, but the big picture suggests an overreaction in the ranking. The Arkansas Razorbacks are a great team, but it appears their #3 ranking is inflated due to a couple of impressive wins over ranked opponents at the time in which they played. One over #5 ranked Alabama, and another over #10 ranked Missouri at the time. The Razorbacks hold no other wins over teams that were ranked at the time when they played them. The Razorbacks rank #64 in opposing shooting percentage and 176 in opposing points per game allowed. I am not sold that Arkansas has a strong enough defense to go far in this tournament.
– AJ Schullo
Iowa has a few arrows pointing in the wrong direction, even if some are narrative-based — which does matter in the NCAA Tournament. The first is the attention the Hawkeyes will gain because of their top player, Luka Garza. When people fill out their brackets, a common mistake is to find the team with the best singular talent, and pencil said team into the Final Four. Not so fast. The other “arrows” are found in the road to the Final Four. Kansas most likely stands in the way in the Sweet 16, which would then be followed by Gonzaga in the Elite Eight. If I’m fading one Top-4 seed team and sparing myself the risk of a Busted Bracket, I’m knocking out a hype machine with a difficult path.
– Mario Mergola