Every year a couple of double-digit seeds disrupt the chalky expectations of the selection committee’s seeding, creating instant excitement across the country.
Some of these results are the debut of a Cinderella story in the making while others are power conference teams we’ve followed all season playing their best basketball at the right time.
Ranking the double-digit seeds is easy at the top because there is no way that Wichita State is on the same level as its peers in this group. The Shockers, .
Elsewhere we took first-found matchup and potential to make a run into consideration, trying to find value picks in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
All odds listed are courtesy of Bovada (@BovadaLV).
1. Wichita State (No. 10 seed, South Region)
Odds to win region: 10/1
Last year, KenPom and other ranking metrics had Wichita State as a top-20 team through the year. The selection committee sent Gregg Marshall and the Shockers to the First Four as an 11-seed, far too low compared to the other teams in the field, and they proved it on the court with wins against No. 11 Vanderbilt and No. 6 Arizona. Wichita State is currently ranked No. 8 in KenPom and No. 11 in Sagarin but finds itself again with a double-digit seed. What the selection committee is leaning on here is the low RPI rating and lack of quality wins that comes with playing in the Missouri Valley Conference. Committee members are willing to look at advanced metrics to help break ties in a tough spot, but it’s clear that they still ride and die RPI when it comes to seeding the conference champions.
The Shockers are a 6.5-point favorite against No. 7 Dayton, and, should they beat the Flyers, have enough experience to scare Kentucky in the second round.
2. Oklahoma State (No. 10 seed, Midwest Region)
Odds to win region: 16/1
After starting the new year 0-6 in Big 12 play, the Cowboys went 9-3 in their next 12 games and enter the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country. Jawun Evans is the team’s heartbeat, averaging 18.7 points per game and displaying the kind of individual playmaking that can take over a game in a high-leverage situation. Combine Evans’ dominance with sharpshooting vet Phil Forte and Brad Underwood’s up-tempo style and you’ve got a team that can get hot quickly and put together a run.
3. Rhode Island (No. 11 seed, Midwest Region)
Odds to win region: 33/1
A bet on Rhode Island shows confidence in this team’s ability to keep its recent streak rolling into the tournament. The Rams were living life on the bubble for most of the last three weeks, ending all concern about an at-large bid by claiming the Atlantic 10 conference tournament on Sunday in Pittsburgh. URI has won eight straight games and finished the weekend shooting lights-out from behind the arc. Creighton played well in the Big East tournament but might need all of its offense clicking to keep up with the white hot Rams.
4. Middle Tennessee (No. 12 seed, South Region)
Odds to win region: 40/1
Giddy Potts is back along with Reggie Upshaw and five other players from last year’s team that upset No. 2 seed Michigan State. Minnesota put together a banner year for Richard Pitino, but the lack of NCAA Tournament experience could end up biting them here in the first round. Potts is our player to watch, but the X-factor here is Upshaw, one of only three active players with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists, 100 steals and 100 blocks in his career.
5. Marquette (No. 10 seed, East Region)
Odds to win region: 40/1
Steve Wojciechowski is leading a top-10 offense right now in Marquette. The Golden Eagles are the best 3-point shooting team in the land (43 percent) and put up 90-plus points in three of their final four regular-season games. The wide-open attack makes for quite the contrast of styles against South Carolina, but if they can get out to an early lead to quiet the Gamecock-friendly crowd in Greenville, S.C., they could advance to face Duke in the debut of the Wojo vs. Coach K series.
6. Xavier (No. 11 seed, West Region)
Odds to win region: 50/1
Edmond Sumner’s absence has changed Xavier’s tournament outlook but the presence of Trevon Bluiett should keep them in any game. Bluiett can turn it on and become a high-volume scorer capable of erasing a deficit or keeping pace in a shootout. The key is whether JP Macura and the rest of this solid roster will rise to the occasion and make Xavier a threat to reach Sweet 16.
7. Providence (No. 11 seed, East Region)
Odds to win region: 66/1
The Friars played their way into the tournament with six straight wins to close the regular season, making the field of 68 for a school-record fourth straight season. Ed Cooley and his staff don’t have a Kris Dunn on this year’s roster but they have good tournament experience (including a win against USC in the 8-9 game last year) and could carry that momentum from the Dayton game into a win against SMU.
8. Wake Forest (No. 11 seed, South Region)
Odds to win region: 75/1
Every year since the First Four was added to the NCAA Tournament, a team has made it from Dayton to the second round with a pair of wins in the tournament’s first week. Wake Forest, led by John Collins, looks like the most likely candidate to accomplish that feat and could carry that momentum into the Sweet 16.
Collins was the best big man in the ACC this year, averaging 18.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Danny Manning has him, and another sophomore in Bryant Crawford, that can absolutely take over a game if needed and that kind of offensive potency could power a run past both Kansas State and Cincinnati.
9. Florida Gulf Coast (No. 13 seed, West Region)
Odds to win region: 100/1
Over the past 10 years, 11 teams that were a 14-seed or 15-seed have won in the first round. Dunk City played Baylor and Michigan State close, on the road, and took care of business in the Atlantic Sun. Florida State didn’t play great away from home and gets an FGCU staff that is still pretty familiar with Leonard Hamilton and the Seminoles’ style of attack.
10. Vermont (No. 13 seed, Midwest Region)
Odds to win region: 100/1
No one in the country is hotter than Vermont. The Catamounts have won 21 games in a row (nation’s longest active streak) and have a freshman in 6-6 forward Anthony Lamb that has played his best basketball of the season since the start of February. Getting past the winner of Iowa State-Nevada, a tasty high-scoring title in itself, might be more challenging but I like Vermont to extend the streak to 22.