We’ve hit the point in the college hoops season when people start to zero in on the teams that they think will not only make the tournament, but will make moves once there. To some extent you can look at the weekly rankings for a snapshot of which teams have been playing well, but those rankings have been so fluid this year that it has been difficult to read too much in to them. Ditto the RPI and whatever ESPN is using these days. All of these lists can lie to you (especially the Coaches Poll which – again – should not exist) except this one*.
* 1/22 edition of the GutPI. The name is still a work in progress.
Below I’m going to discuss a handful of teams I think are either overestimated or underestimated, mainly because I’m tired of hearing “overrated” and “underrated” so much. I hope you disagree with me because we need to start having more discussions in the comments. Enjoy.
Providence* (17-4; 5-3) (10 AP / 10 Coaches / 12 GutPI / 21 RPI)
I’m coming out of the gate with probably my boldest pick here. There isn’t a ton to quibble with on Providence’s resume outside of an inexplicable loss to Marquette but there’s something here that just stinks. Every year there’s a conference that gets tons of love throughout the regular season before falling flat on its ass in March. The Big East is that conference this year. For that reason I’m just not overly enamored with Providence’s wins over Villanova and Butler (you might see them later). There’s a lot to like on this team individually with Dunn and Bentil but I’m just not seeing the whole package with these guys.
* Full disclosure: I started this post before Providence lost at home to Xavier. That result didn’t make me feel worse about putting them on this list.
Virginia (16-4; 5-3) (11 AP / 12 Coaches / 18 GutPI / 13 RPI)
Pretty sure Nate’s going to agree with me on this one. They should have lost to Wake Forest last night and they have lost to Virginia Tech, Florida State, and Georgia Tech already in conference. None of those teams are making the tournament. It is somewhat baffling that they’re still ranked this high given that run but inertia is a powerful thing and the people voting in these polls have a definite bias toward keeping a preseason darling ranked highly. I wouldn’t be surprised if the slide toward the mediocre middle of the ACC continues to worsen as the season wears on.
Duke (15-6; 4-4) (24 AP / 20 Coaches / 30 GutPI / 26 RPI)
I’ll keep this brief because I don’t really think most people are still overestimating them. There should be two “NR”s next to those poll rankings. You know it. I know it. The thing is…we probably should have sniffed this one out earlier. Even before drunkenly stumbling through the ACC schedule Duke barely beat a fairly lousy Georgetown team, lost to a very mediocre Utah team, and got blown out by a possibly quite lousy Kentucky team. That isn’t good. This team might not be, either.
South Carolina (18-2; 5-2) (NR AP / 22 Coaches / 17 GutPI / 28 RPI) & Purdue (17-4; 5-3) (21 AP / 21 Coaches / 24 GutPI / 27 RPI)
Neither of these teams has beaten anybody and they both keep dropping conference games. Pretty simple. The difference is that I still see bubble when I look at South Carolina and I see a potential matchup nightmare when I see Purdue. Nate just sees blinding hatred when he sees Purdue.
Honorable mentions: Texas A&M (I’m definitely not a believer and am damn sure they’re not a top-5 team, but hard to argue with the results lately*); Louisville (the best team they’ve beaten is Pitt); Oregon (this might not be fair because nobody in the Pac12 looks all that good but this is not the best team in that conference); Villanova (see comments above re: Big East).
*Since I wrote this post before the Providence-Xavier game I obviously also wrote this before Texas A&M dropped a road game to Arkansas. Yes, I kept these in to toot my own horn.
Texas (13-7; 5-3) (NR AP / NR Coaches / 32 GutPI / 19 RPI)
Jumping on this bandwagon before it gets too crowded. They played a brutal schedule while trying to work in new players who hadn’t yet had a full opportunity to adapt to a challenging system in game conditions and are starting to reap the rewards later in the season. Quick, was I talking about the typical Michigan State team or this year’s Texas team?
Dayton (16-3; 6-1) (NR AP / NR Coaches / 21 GutPI / 11 RPI)
OK, fine, I’m a homer. I’m also not wrong here. They’ve had a weird season personnel-wise and are just starting to play consistently with a full roster, but if you take away Dayton’s best win (Iowa) and worst loss (La Salle) you’re still left with a team that has played like a team closer to top-20 than the top-30 team they’ve been viewed as lately. I also don’t think any team in the country wants to see them as an early-tournament matchup.
SMU…just kidding. I’m just happy we shouldn’t have to hear about them again all season.
Iowa State (16-4; 5-3) (14 AP / 16 Coaches / 16 GutPI / 10 RPI)
This makes me very uncomfortable but I’m seeing a final four team here. I’ve made this mistake with Iowa State teams in the past only to watch them take a make a dumpster fire of my brackets, but I’m not even sure this isn’t the best team in the country. North Carolina is the other team I am struggling to argue against besides the Cyclones. Oklahoma has some depth issues and looks like they could be vulnerable if Buddy ever takes off the Superman cape. Then what? Villanova? Please. Texas A&M? Nope. Kansas? Asked and answered. The next best team might be Iowa, which Iowa State already beat.
Honorable mentions: I really don’t have any. I’m only seeing a handful of extremely good teams this year and a bunch of teams that look very similar. Plus it’s easier to rag on team than find diamonds in the rough.
Think I’m wrong? Let me know in the comments – let’s banter.