The On Deck Circle

Where practice swings don’t exist

An Exhaustively Researched List Of Non-BCS Teams That Will Impress Come Tournament Time

Posted by Blake Murphy on March 7, 2008

This article has been submitted by Stu Wilkinson, back-up center for the Inglewood Cobras.

This is part one of what will hopefully be a two part series from me detailing the NCAA Tournament outlooks for some of the non-BCS schools that may or may not be appearing on your Facebook brackets a couple weeks from now. Some of you might already be aware of my unparalleled forecasting abilities, probably from either the “Stu’s Novelty Sized Shoe-In of the Night” feature on your Internet Explorer homepage or the COMM350 midterm exam at the reputable Queen’s University. Well, I’m going to take some space on this fine website to put those prognosticative abilities to good use – I’m going to tell you exactly how March Madness will play out for these schools if they make it to the tournament.

Again, in order for a school to be included in this list they must not be part of the “BCS Conferences.” If you don’t know what those are, a kitten just died, and it’s your fault for not paying attention to college basketball.

Memphis (28-1, out of Conference USA)
If you don’t know them by now, you will never ever ever ever know them (Yup). CDR and Derrick Rose can score in the clutch, Joey Dorsey is one of the best rebounders in the nation, and their defense is statistically the best in the nation. Memphis should go deep in the tournament, but don’t be surprised if their atrocious free throw shooting (340th out of 341) ends up becoming a major roadblock to a Final Four appearance.
Prediction: Elite Eight
Xavier (25-4, out of the Atlantic 10 Conference)
The school named after the only member of the X-Men to obtain a doctoral degree is absolutely rolling through the best non-BCS conference in the nation, the A-10, with only one loss through fourteen games. Outside of conference play, the team got some seasoning in a hard-fought loss against Tennessee (I can see an Elite Eight rematch in the works) and wins against Indiana, Kansas State, and arch-rival Cincinnati. Their offense is one of the most efficient in the nation thanks to four key players shooting over 40% from behind the arc. I can’t see this team losing before the Sweet Sixteen, but I can see them having trouble once they get there, especially if they draw a quality team with a quality scoring big man – but what are the odds of that?
Prediction: Elite Eight

Gonzaga (24-6, repping the West Coast Conference)
Full disclosure: I’ve been on the Zags bandwagon for a while now. More full disclosure: this team is freaking sweet. Give them one win and several close calls against quality opponents in non-conference play, as well as a 13-1 record in the WCC. They haven’t been blown out all year (unless you count a ten point loss to Texas Tech), and they have the players to put them over the top in a tight game in March with Jeremy Pargo and Matt Bouldin. Their Achilles heel in the Tournament could be turnovers, but you have to believe that Mark Few is going to have this team ready to take care of the ball on offense in the big games. For example, in their late-season showdown with St. Mary’s, with the WCC regular season crown on the line, the Zags only had five turnovers.
Prediction: Sweet Sixteen

Davidson (23-6 out of the Southern Conference)
This really isn’t about Davidson, it’s about Stephen Curry. Curry takes a larger percentage of his team’s shots than Mike Beasley at K-State, meaning that he better light up the scoreboard if Davidson is going to get a win in the Tournament. Thing is, Curry steps up against big opponents — he scored over twenty points in three of the four games Davidson played against BCS conference opponents this year. The team still lost all four of those games, but it was only by a combined total of 23 points. Davidson can play with the big boys, and they reek of a twelve seed over the five seed game in March. Think Vermont over Syracuse three years ago.
Prediction: Sweet Sixteen

Drake (25-4 out of THE Missouri Valley Conference)
I’ve actually been pretty lukewarm on this team the whole year, but I’m flip-flopping now, probably because that’s what Democrat sympathizers like myself do. This is your typical battle-tested MVC team – sure the conference is down this year, but it’s still eighth best in the nation, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. They get solid shooting from their key guys, especially this Josh Young character that I know almost nothing about (46.5% from three point range). The key with this team is their ability to take to take care of the basketball on offense and force turnovers on defense. Although they’ve gone cold in their last few games after their blistering 22-1 start, I still like this team in the Tournament, especially if they run through the MVC Tournament. Also, a guy on their team is named Klayton Korver (yes, relation). Real talk.
Prediction: Round of 32

Virginia Commonwealth (23-6 out of George Mason’s Conference)
This is a team that hangs its hat on defense, especially perimeter defense. VAC’s three point defense is the best in the nation, and that’s not a product of bad shooting in their conference (the next closest CAA team is 55th in the nation). VAC also has a solid star and proven postseason performer in Eric “The Rightful Owner of Greg Paulus” Maynor. This is a team that will have to rely on its experience and Maynor to get a win in the Tournament, but they’ll have to get there first with a win in the CAA Tournament.
Prediction: Round of 32

So there you have it. As a disclaimer, this entire piece was designed as a smokescreen to throw you jackals off the scent of my real March Madness picks. It’s called strategery, and it’s what I do.

This article has been submitted by Stu Wilkinson, back-up center for the Inglewood Cobras.

4 Responses to “An Exhaustively Researched List Of Non-BCS Teams That Will Impress Come Tournament Time”

  1. Ryan Says:

    George Mason’s Conference? Umm, did you mean Colonial Athletic Association (CAA)?

  2. stu Says:

    No, the conference was renamed after George Mason went on the most unlikely NCAA run in my lifetime.

  3. Mike Says:

    Congratulations, you picked six of the seven most obvious teams possible. Didn’t have time to write “exhaustively” about Butler?

  4. stu Says:

    The point was to look at teams that I think will impress people in the Tournament - meaning meet or exceed expectations. Everyone thinks Xavier will win one game in the tournament, does everyone think they’ll win three? I’m not trying to say Memphis and Xavier are good, because everyone already knows that. I’m saying that they’re going to meet or exceed the already lofty expectations that people have for them.

    And I’m surprised that your definition of “obvious teams” includes either VAC or Davidson, both of which are on the tournament bubble if they don’t win their conference tournament. And if you think being ranked in the top 25 guarantees a tourney spot for Davidson, think again. We all remember what happened to Utah State a couple years back in 2004, do we not?

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