March Madness: Three Top Teams In Danger of Being Upset | GMTM
Gmtm Logo
SIGN UP
Gmtm Logo

March Madness: Three Top Teams In Danger of Being Upset

ByBryan Armetta

Published on Mon Feb 22 2021

|

4 min read

March Madness: Three Top Teams In Danger of Being Upset

We are just weeks away from the most exciting event in sports: the NCAA March Madness Tournament. After an abrupt cancellation to last year's edition due to the sudden emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, hoops fans were denied the opportunity to see the sport's finest young players in a 64-team do-or-die battle for glory.

While the likelihood of a #16 seed upset are minuscule, there is plenty of risk for top teams that assume they'll reach the Sweet Sixteen automatically. The history of college basketball is littered with 20losing

20to
20St.,seed
20in
20the
20Southeast
20region.">Cinderella 20Wolfpack
20smoked
20the
20Bulldogs,championship
20game
20in
20nine
20years.">stories. While these squads are immortalized forever, the heavy favorites they took down along the way offer up a cautionary tale for some of the assumed Goliaths in this year's tourney. Here are three elite teams at risk of a disappointing elimination in the first two rounds.

*Statistics and rankings as of 2/11 courtesy of Sports Reference CBB


Iowa

#15 Iowa has plenty of positives on their roster. The team has the third-highest scoring offense in the nation (87.8 PPG), anchored by All-American and potential Naismith Award winner Luka Garza. Their ability to shoot from the inside and outside presents a difficult task for any opponent, and the return of guard C.J. Fredrick should only help. However, a closer look reveals a team that has enough firepower to score points, but an absolute inability to make a stop on the other end of the court.

Sitting at sixth in the Big 10 as of the first week in February, the Hawkeyes have endured a 2-4 slide in their last six games. This stretch of bad play has brought their 134th ranked defensive efficiency into focus. During those losses, the team has fallen to major rivals in Ohio State, Illinois, and Indiana (twice). An inability to guard the perimeter means no lead is ever truly safe, and opens the door for a potential defeat at the hands of a hot-shooting mid-major next month.

Even when the defense manages to step up, the team's over-reliance on Luka Garza can rear its ugly head. In a 67-65 loss to Indiana on February 7th, just four players managed to score more than three points, and the team fell to the Hoosiers by a score of 67-65. A team that plays good interior defense can create havoc for Garza and Iowa, even if the Hawkeyes manages to defend for forty minutes.


Texas

It's been rough lately for Shaka Smart's crew, with #13 Texas dropping their last four games against ranked opponents in the Big 12. After garnering consideration for a number one seed early in the season, the Longhorns have stumbled mightily, going from 11-2 to 12-5  in just two weeks.

Part of the problem may be a lack of star power. A well-balanced attack with four different players in double-digits has served Texas well throughout most of the regular season, but the lack of a true 'closer' to take over could haunt them in a tightly contested game down the road. Despite their solid ranking, a roster with tons of hype has looked rather disappointing in recent weeks.

Team statistics point to this being a good but not great team. An average points per game mark at 75.6 (91st) and points allowed at 68.4 (127th) don't necessarily stand out. While not being bad at anything is a solid trait in most title-caliber teams, Texas's point differential of 7.2 isn't even within the top seventy five. The Longhorns are a talented group, but a lack of exceptional play in any area makes it hard to project this team going far as a high seed, especially against some of the tougher offenses and defenses in the tournament.

from the field and turn the ball over 21 times, you look at that end of the floor.”

Shaka Smart is seeking to lead No. 13 Texas past familiar struggles ahead of tonight's game versus KSU, via 5Etfw">@josephcook89 (FREE) 5Etfw">#HookEm https://t.co/gZkbZfLd0E

— Inside Texas (@InsideTexas) 5Etfw">February 9, 2021

Houston

Staying in the state of Texas, #8 Houston has assembled a formidable roster under the stewardship of head coach Kelvin Sampson, arguably their best roster in three decades. The Cougars have raced off to a 17-2 start and a likely spot as a top-three seed in the tournament. Even more impressive is the team's smothering defense; Houston stifled opponents with an average points allowed per game of 57.3, second best in the nation. A dynamic guard pair in Quentin Grimes and Marcus Sasser keeps the team respectable on offense, while a supporting cast that includes eight other players averaging over ten minutes a game gives Sampson plenty of options off the bench.

With all their regular season success and a point differential that stands at fourth best in the league, it's hard not to like Houston. Still, there are causes for concern. The most notable one is the level of competition. The AAC has been mediocre this year, with no other top-25 teams residing in the conference. The only truly impressive win on the team's resume is a November win over Texas Tech; significant but not enough to ensure the team is ready to dominate in March.

Admittedly, Houston stands a much better chance of making a Final Four run than the two previous entries on our list. However, a February 3rd loss against Eastern Carolina offers up a blueprint on how to beat the Cougs. ECU broke through for 82 points, using a perimeter-shooting attack rather than driving inside against Houston's formidable interior defense. Holding Grimes to just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting, it was difficult for the Cougars to get into a rhythm on offense. An underdog that can force the ball away from Grimes and Sasser could give Houston a major headache, especially considering the relatively lax schedule they've played so far.


Are you an Athlete?

Create a free profile to access the largest network specifically designed to connect athletes to opportunities. Get started.

RELATED ARTICLES
What is AAU Basketball? And Whether You Should Find a Team

What is AAU Basketball? And Whether You Should Find a Team

AAU has become a huge topic within the high school sports world, as it has developed into a proving ground for aspiring athletes, especially when it comes to basketball. So, if you are an athlete or...

ByLogan Furey | Wed May 11 2022
How Does a Walk-On Program Work for a Typical College Basketball Program?

How Does a Walk-On Program Work for a Typical College Basketball Program?

There are other, less ceremonious avenues young men and young women pursue to join college basketball teams though. It can involve texting, calling, or visiting assistant coaches on staff, or...

ByAndrew Pistone | Tue May 10 2022
Men's Basketball: How Shaheen Holloway and St. Peter's Can Stay Relevant After March Madness

Men's Basketball: How Shaheen Holloway and St. Peter's Can Stay Relevant After March Madness

Saint Peter's historic run was full of dramatic moments and unexpected surprises. All except one: head coach Shaheen Holloway was as good as gone once the feisty Peacocks were defeated. Holloway...

ByBryan Armetta | Thu Apr 21 2022
Men's College Basketball: Five Stars Who Could Have Benefitted Most From NIL Ruling

Men's College Basketball: Five Stars Who Could Have Benefitted Most From NIL Ruling

In the aftermath of a July ruling by the NCAA allowing for athletes to profit off of their name, image, and...

ByBryan Armetta | Sun Apr 17 2022
College Visit: Three Ways To Determine If a Basketball Coach Is The Right Fit

College Visit: Three Ways To Determine If a Basketball Coach Is The Right Fit

The atmosphere is electric: bands playing trendy music, a packed arena or stadium full of screaming fans, an overzealous PA announcer hyping the crowd up during the game. You’re watching a college...

ByKeiwaine Hicks | Tue Apr 12 2022