NCAA Tourney Potential Long Shots

by ASA, Inc.

Monday, Mar 13, 2023
Upset season is here, and inevitably the Cinderella teams will catch all of the love busting brackets and allowing unknown mid-major players to burst onto the national scene. Though those teams are thrilling to watch, they rarely make it all the way to the Final 4, Loyola-Chicago being the last mid-major in the past eight years. Low seeded teams that do extend their upset streaks to the Final 4 actually come from high major schools significantly more. UNC in 2022 (8 seed), UCLA in 2021 (11), South Carolina in 2017 (7), and Syracuse in 2016 (10) show the success these low seeds can have. Here are a few that have true potential this March. 

Arkansas Razorbacks (odds to win the National Championship +7500 @ Fan Duel) - The SEC is loaded with guard talent and the Razorbacks have three that average over 12.8ppg or better. Two of those talented guards, Smith Jr & Black, are potential NBA lottery picks.  With an elite backcourt, they draw Illinois in round one and then will have to pull off the upset by taking down No. 1 seed Kansas if they wish to make it past the first weekend. The Razors defense is elite ranking 16th in adjusted efficiency and their offense has improved since Smith Jr returned from injury averaging 77 PPG in his 7 games since returning.  There is so much parody in college basketball this season that Arkansas is more than capable of playing spoiler to lots of people's brackets early on. 

Texas A&M Aggies (odds to win the National Championship +4500 @ Fan Duel) - Once again, we value guards who can fill it up. Wade Taylor and Tyrece Radford do just that and have been battle tested through the SEC gauntlet. Those two combined to average 30 PPG while both shooting 80% plus from the FT line.  The Aggies are solid on both ends of the court ranking in the top 40 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency.  They also get to the charity stripe more than any other team in the Big Dance with 26% of their points coming at the FT line.  And they make them when they get there, hitting 76% as a team.  If they can get by Penn State, who just played 4 games in 4 days at the Big 10 tourney, that sets up an epic battle with former in state rival Texas in the round of 32. 

Memphis Tigers (odds to win the National Championship +10000 @ Fan Duel) - Fresh off of an American Conference tournament victory over No. 1 seed Houston, this is a no brainer. Kendric Davis is phenomenal and will be one of the best players in the NCAA field. The Tigers are top 40 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency and they are a veteran team with 5 seniors in the starting line up and 8 in their regular rotation.  They have a 26-8 record but it could be better with all 8 losses coming by 8 points or less and 5 of those setbacks coming by 3 points or fewer.  If they can get by a solid FAU team in the opener, they’ve got a decent shot at upsetting Purdue in our opinion.  The Boilers struggle with pressure and Memphis turns teams over at almost a 21% rate.  This is definitely a team that can make it to the second weekend. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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