Bracket busters: Three teams to watch out for when creating your bracket

Bracket busters: Three teams to watch out for when creating your bracket
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It’s officially March, which means the sports world is getting ready to focus in on a 68-team college basketball tournament that is consistently just as unpredictable as it is exciting.

Every year, the most causal to the most diehard college basketball fans put together brackets predicting the results, with those brackets often in the paper shredder already by the second weekend of the tournament. 

Upsets are synonymous with March Madness. Underdogs, Cinderellas, whatever you like to call them, there are always teams that come seemingly out of nowhere that bring joy to their fan bases and dismay to those who had their opponents going far in their personal brackets.

Some are more expected than others, with it ultimately nearly impossible to predict what teams will put their best foot forward in a 68-team single elimination tournament. However, there are always a handful of mid-major schools who look poised to make a run headed into the men’s NCAA Tournament.

Many factors go into what makes a good NCAA Tournament team, but with these teams it can also be pretty random. Sometimes it’s as random as who gets hot on the right day.

Other times, though, it’s easier to tell. This article will look primarily at teams’ schedules and efficiency metrics, along with their personnel. 

Oral Roberts

Making its second NCAA Tournament appearance in the last three seasons, many fans still remember Oral Roberts’ fairy tale-like run in 2021. The Golden Eagles were a 15-seed in 2021 and made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen before narrowly losing to Arkansas.

The star of that team was point guard Max Abmas, who is still with the team and currently averages 22.2 points per game, good enough for sixth in the country. Having an elite scorer like that is often a key for teams like this to make a run in March, and Abmas already has the experience coming from Oral Roberts’s run in 2021.

The Oral Roberts offense, led by Abmas, ranks third in the country in total points per game at 84.2 and ranks 24th in adjusted offensive efficiency at 115.5 points per 100 possessions.

This team has talent and experience and is an efficient offensive unit that could give many big teams problems. The Golden Eagles have also won 16 games in a row heading into the tournament, so momentum is on their side.

College of Charleston

Charleston was a fan favorite team for much of the season, even spending a portion of the year ranked in the AP Top 25. The Cougars finished the season 31-3 and in the eyes of many should have been a lock to make the NCAA Tournament even if they hadn’t won their conference tournament.

The team is about as balanced as it gets with five players averaging 10 or more points per game and no one averaging more than 28 minutes per game.

Experience is also on Charleston’s side. Its leading scorer, Dalton Bolon, is currently in his seventh year of college basketball and is one of four graduate students on the roster.

The stats and advanced metrics don’t favor the Cougars as much as they do Oral Roberts, but the importance of having an experienced, cohesive group shouldn’t be underestimated.

Drake

Drake is also making its second NCAA Tournament appearance in the last three years as the Bulldogs were an 11-seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs still have a handful of players from that team, but are led by sophomore Tucker DeVries, the son of head coach Darian DeVries.

Tucker Devries averages 19 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game and had 22 points in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game. 

Much like Charleston, Drake also has an abundance of experience, with three graduate students and two seniors on the roster. 

Statistically, there are a couple things that stand out about the Bulldogs. They rank in the top 50 in adjusted efficiency margin, allowing 97.8 points per 100 possessions. They also like to slow it down on offense, averaging just 66.6 possessions per game. Depending on the matchup, this can be an adjustment for teams who can be thrown off by having to play at a slower pace.

Defense travels in tournament settings like March Madness and combining that with Drake’s experience and possession of a high-level scorer makes them a team many high-seeded teams won’t want to play in the NCAA Tournament.

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About Marc Lemoine 1841 Articles
Marc is an Economist and a well experienced weightlifter who has won many championships. He intends to build a bright career in the media industry as well. He is a sports freak who loves to cover the latest news on sports, finance and economy.

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