2022 NCAA Tournament: The Most Overseeded & Underseeded Teams Based on Our Power Ratings
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images. Pictured: Nate Watson (Providence)
Over the years, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has evolved their method to picking the best teams in the field and the proper seeding. The NCAA introduced the NET Rankings prior to the 2018-19 campaign to help add another evaluation tool to the table to attempt to increase accuracy.
While that’s all well and good, no model or method will ever be truly perfect.
Like every year, there are teams that are surprisingly left out of the field, and there are others who are over or underseeded.
That’s where BJ Cunningham and Shane McNichol come in. BJ will break down two overseeded teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament, and Shane will dive into three underseeded programs.
Our seed: 10
BJ Cunningham: Providence was the luckiest team in college basketball by every metric from KenPom to ShotQuality. In fact, it finished the season with a 25-5 actual record, but had a 17-13 ShotQuality record.
That means there were eight games that the Friars won when the quality of shots at both ends of the floor said they should have lost.
But to be honest, the market has caught up with the Providence “luck” narrative because in its first-round matchup against South Dakota State, it’s only two-point favorites.
That’s the lowest first-round spread in the history of the NCAA Tournament for a four seed or better.
The wrong side of history for Providence 😬https://t.co/GjjGLqZ0Ub pic.twitter.com/33bNH72wwF
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) March 14, 2022
Negative shooting regression hit the Friars hard in the Big East semifinals, as Creighton went on a 31-2 run to beat the Friars, 85-58.
With how bad their first-round matchup is against South Dakota State and then potentially having to face the hottest team in the country in Iowa in the second round, you can see why their odds to make the Final Four are 35/1.
Our Seed: 7
BJ Cunningham: Wisconsin made college basketball history this season with one of the best records in close games ever, finishing 15-3 in games decided by six points or less.
While that’s impressive, it also statistically is going to regress towards the mean, which is what you saw in the Badgers’ last two games against Nebraska and Michigan State.
Now, while Wisconsin does have Johnny Davis and hardly turns the ball over, it’s actually a pretty bad shooting team.
So, you can see why our rankings don’t like Badgers at all.
Now, the draw for them is good. Colgate is a difficult first-round matchup, but getting to face LSU without its head coach is a good spot and then, they could face a potentially reeling Auburn team in the Sweet 16.
The problem is while Wisconsin is solid defending in the half-court, it tends to struggle in transition (219th in PPP allowed, per ShotQuality).
The other question is the status of Davis (ankle). Yes, he is going to play, but is he going to be 100%? In the Big Ten Tournament against Michigan State, he went 3-of-19 from the field and scored 11 points. If he’s not at his best, the Badgers are an NIT team at best.
So, having to face a run-and-gun team like Colgate with your best player not 100% healthy in the first round is a precarious spot for a squad that has been hanging on by a thread all season long.
Our seed: 2
Shane McNichol: It’s not just our metrics that loved the Cougars. The computers didn’t care about Kelvin Sampson losing his two best players to injury. They just saw Houston winning game after game with impressive on-court performances.
Our metrics ranked Houston sixth in the nation, and we’re not alone. KenPom has Houston in the top five. EvanMiya and ShotQuality each have the Cougars in the top 10. BartTorvik’s T-Rank has them second.
Houston plays with a blue-collar attitude that the white-collar stat wizards seem to love. When you are top-15 on both ends of the court, that will tend to happen.
Listen to the numbers, and don’t sleep on the Cougars.
Our seed: 6
Shane McNichol: The Selection Committee did not love the Mountain West Conference as much as our analytics, or any predictive models. Three of the four MWC teams in the field were underseeded by our metrics, none moreso then the Aztecs.
San Diego State’s resume took a hit when its power-conference opponents didn’t live up to their name brand billing. Wins over Georgetown and Arizona State didn’t end up being worth much. San Diego State’s neutral court win over Saint Mary’s, however, proved valuable.
The Aztecs rank second in the nation in defensive efficiency, with impressive stats up and down the defensive end of the floor. No matter the location or opponent, the Aztecs’ defense should show up ready for stops.
Our seed: 8
Shane McNichol: The Ramblers aren’t just a hot name as a sleeper pick because of past success. Loyola has shown on the court this season that it is deserving of respect.
Even in the first year of new head coach Drew Valentine, the Ramblers have continued to be one of the most disciplined and well-coached defensive teams in college basketball.
Loyola’s resume lacked the kind of signature win that would pop off the page to earn a better seed, but the Ramblers impressed in wins over San Francisco, Arizona State, DePaul and Vanderbilt.
They also looked the part in a narrow loss to Michigan State, holding Sparty under 1.0 points per possession.
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