The slipper still fits for Jim Boeheim and his Orange. Syracuse seems to be perpetually on the bubble by season’s end, narrowly making this year’s field after finishing in 10th place in the ACC. Whether they earned their spot in the play-in game is up for debate, but Syracuse has certainly looked the part through their three tournament games. Boeheim always has his team playing at their best in March, and this year has been no different. Opponents have looked lost against their zone, as Syracuse has been able to utilize their length and athleticism to disrupt passing lanes and force contested shots. However, their offense still leaves something to be desired after beating Michigan State with one made three and three total assists. Simply put, that lack of offensive output won’t cut it against Duke.
The two double-digit seeds might be ranked at the bottom of this list, but don’t count either out just yet. With Virginia and Cincinnati being knocked out last weekend, it’s not absolutely ridiculous to believe the best remaining defense in the field belongs to Loyola-Chicago. The Ramblers are pests on the defensive end, and are able to create turnovers and contest at the rim without fouling. Offensively, they’ve been able to slow the tempo and work for good shots. Sharpshooter Clayton Custer is nailing three-pointers at a 75-percent clip this postseason. The team as a whole is shooting over 48-percent from the field. They are a squad to be reckoned with, and have a legit shot at becoming the first double-digit seed to make the Final Four since VCU in 2011.
14. Kansas State
9-seeds are undefeated against 16-seeds in the NCAA Tournament thanks to Bruce Weber and the Kansas State Wildcats. It wasn’t the prettiest of performances, but Kansas State ended UMBC’s Cinderella run by executing down the stretch and holding the Retrievers to under 30-percent shooting from the field.
Even with the convincing victory over Creighton and the squashing of anybody’s dreams of a 16-seed making the Final Four, it’s tough to place Kansas State any higher. Avoiding Virginia robbed them of any chance of earning the title of “Giant Killer”. And although there are question marks surrounding the health of leading scorer Dean Wade, Kansas State simply isn’t as talented as the other teams ahead of them.
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