NCAAB Betting: 5 Projected Highly-Seeded Teams That May Be Overrated

NCAAB Betting: 5 Projected Highly-Seeded Teams That May Be Overrated article feature image

Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Zach Edey (Purdue)

In college basketball, there are always pundits questioning seeding in Bracketology or how a relatively bad team found its way into the top 25 of the AP Poll.

The problem is that plenty of teams get the benefit of great results, even though the process to get to those victories is not indicative of future success.

For example, a team could be getting lucky in multiple regular season games (see Wisconsin in 2022). A team could also play horribly on the road or have an incredibly lopsided approach when it comes to offense and defense.

All of these ingredients need to be factored into how a team will get seeded in the NCAA tournament.

There will always be a program that earns a bid based on name recognition alone (i.e. Syracuse or UNC). Then there will be teams who absolutely deserve to be in the field — based on how the season panned out — but the committee might give them a little too much credit.

These are the teams we want to investigate.

Below, we’re taking a look at five teams that are likely to be highly-seeded in the Big Dance but also are more capable than their peers of losing in the early rounds.

NC State Wolfpack

I had to look at the last ACC team that snuck its way into the AP Poll this week. The ACC is a laughably bad power conference this season.

According to KenPom’s Adjusted Efficiency margin, the ACC now ranks below the Mountain West.

Virginia and Miami (FL) seem to be doing the heavy lifting because the rest of this conference is weak.

North Carolina State ranks 22nd in the latest AP Poll, but it ranks 41st by KenPom, 36th in NET and 32nd via Bart Torvik. The Wolfpack are also 3-4 in Quad 1 games.

The Wolfpack are a solid team, but that is where the buck stops. They do not specialize in much, aside from turning over the ball only 13.8% of the time on offense.

Terquavion Smith is great. Jarkel Joiner, Casey Morsell, Jack Clark and D.J. Burns Jr. round out a decent lineup, but frankly, this team has not notched many noteworthy wins.

The Wolfpack beat Duke (35th via KenPom) and Miami (31st) at home in early January. Aside from that, beating Dayton (70th) is their next best win.

This team could easily go 4-1 in its last set of games down the stretch of the regular season and maybe knock off a couple of bad ACC teams in the conference tournament.

This could earn the Wolfpack a solid seed in the NCAA tournament, but if they match up with the likes of the Florida Atlantic Owls — as Joe Lunardi has in his latest Bracketology — fading NC State is a totally reasonable call.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Saint Mary’s lost to Loyola Marymount on the road in overtime last week due to a career game from LMU’s Cam Shelton, but Gonzaga lost to this Lions team at home.

This is not meant to be disparaging to the Lions, as they look like the third-best WCC team at the moment. However, Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s should be leaps and bounds ahead of them.

The Zags, however, do not have the track record that Saint Mary’s does this season.

For one, the Gaels are 2-1 in Quad 1 games compared to Gonzaga’s 3-4. In addition to Saint Mary’s 22-5 record, only three wins were within a five-point margin or went to overtime. Gonzaga had five.

That is enough about Saint Mary’s, but for comparison, Gonzaga has been seeded above the Gaels in nearly every Bracketology.

The problem is that the Zags aren’t well balanced, and this will be an issue in the NCAA tournament.

The Bulldogs rank second in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, per KenPom, and 92nd in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, yielding a 3-point mark of 34.6% and a 2-point mark of 51.9%.

Adding on, the Zags rank 323rd in shots attacking the rim, per ShotQuality. They rank 176th in Open 3 Rate, 350th on catch-and-shoot 3s and 306th on off-the-dribble 3s.

This is atrocious, and if they meet an opponent that knows how to attack, they will yield similarly close games in the tournament.

Right now, Lunardi has Gonzaga as a four seed. There are some strong mid-major teams that would love to attack Drew Timme off a pick-and-roll, or the Gonzaga backcourt with an assault of 3s.

The Bulldogs could be an ideal matchup for many smaller schools who can hit some shots and play better defense.

Providence Friars

In 2021-2022, the Providence Friars ranked first in KenPom’s Luck metric. This year, the Friars have since fallen, but that does not mean they are not going to be over-seeded come tourney time.

Providence currently ranks 24th in the AP Poll, but they rank 32nd on KenPom, 42nd on NET and 37th on Bart Torvik at the time of writing.

Sure, this could be a result of Ed Cooley’s motivational coaching, but it likely is not.

This team essentially gets by due to its rebounding. Per ShotQuality, the Friars rank 14th in rebounding percentage, but they do not rank anywhere near the top of the NCAA in anything other than free-throw rate.

This team can crash the glass and get to the line. It still ranks 61st in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (KenPom) and has gone 6-6 in Quad 1 and 2 games this season.

The Friars also rank 154th in Rim & 3 Rate (ShotQuality), so they give up a ton of quality shots to opponents.

Like the Zags, the Friars are horrible defending pick-and-roll ball screens, so a well-oiled mid-major could put a damper on any run the Providence faithful expect their team to make.

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Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State currently ranks 19th in the latest AP Poll. The Clones are also 16th in NET, 18th via KenPom and 14th on Bart Torvik.

On paper, Iowa State getting a four seed (Lunardi’s latest) would seem reasonable. However, the Cyclones are 6-8 against Quad 1 opponents.

Building off of that, KenPom predicts they will lose three of their last six regular season games.

This is because of their lack of offensive wherewithal. The Cyclones are a defensive-heavy team and crumble when an opponent does not turn the ball over easily.

On the season, Iowa State owns the highest defensive turnover rate at 26.3%. On offense, it turns it over 19.1% of the time.

That said, the Clones allow the 10th-most shots at the rim, per ShotQuality. They rank 353rd in 3-point attempt percentage defensively, as well.

The Cyclones also rank 309th in offensive free-throw attempt percentage and 341st defensively. Since they shoot under 66% from the strike, if they do not turn over opponents, they will have trouble.

They could be matched up with a sounder offensive team and could be upset in the first round.

Purdue Boilermakers

This may seem like an overreaction after Purdue just dropped a game against Northwestern, but I think the Wildcats just showcased to the college basketball world that Purdue is ultra-reliant on Zach Edey.

If you contain Edey and guard the Boilermakers’ young backcourt closely, they will falter, and Purdue did exactly that vs. the Wildcats.

Boo Buie, Chase Audige and Ty Berry disrupted the Boilermakers’ guards and Edey himself. Fletcher Loyer had two turnovers, while Braden Smith had three and Edey had six.

Another team will be able to replicate the Northwestern recipe with strong defense.

Most of Edey's turnovers from the double seem to happen when Edey has to fall away. Not entirely sure why Morton tried cutting closer to the defender either

— Joe Jackson (@Joe_Jackson2210) February 13, 2023

Purdue is usually a phenomenal rebounding team. It ranks first in offensive rebounding and 13th on the defensive end. The Boilers also do not foul.

That said, they rank 113th in offensive turnover rate and first in post-ups (ShotQuality). Edey will have the ball in his hands, but with a double team, he can get frustrated and make mistakes.

Defensively, Purdue rarely turns over opponents (339th), and it ranks 339th in attacking the rim. Essentially, the only shots they will consistently get inside are from Edey.

There will be a team in the tournament that will use the Northwestern recipe and beat the Boilermakers. Nebraska used a similar method of action and nearly won earlier in the season, too.

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