Unlikely NCAA Teams Poised to Make March Madness Runs

Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop was this year’s Big Ten Player of the Year and is a Wooden Award finalist. Texas Tech, led by Keenan Evans, is another team to look out for in March. The Red Raiders lockdown defense could come up big.

Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop was this year’s Big Ten Player of the Year and is a Wooden Award finalist. Texas Tech, led by Keenan Evans, is another team to look out for in March. The Red Raiders lockdown defense could come up big.

Jake Rosenstein, Maroon-News Writer

As Selection Sunday draws closer and conference tournaments come to an end, its time to take an in-depth look at four dark horse teams poised to make deep runs in the NCAA tournament.

1. Texas Tech Red Raiders: 

Led by senior guard and Wooden Award finalist Keenan Evans, Texas Tech is ready to make a run come tournament time. The Red Raiders sit at number 12 in the latest AP Poll with a 23-8 (11-7 in the Big 12) record with quality wins over Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse, two wins over both Kansas State and TCU, as well as a win over a tough West Virginia team.

With the fifth highest defensive efficiency rating and the 14th lowest opponent shooting percentage in the nation, the Red Raiders stifling defense throughout the stacked Big 12 conference regular season makes them a prime candidate to make a run deep in the tourney.

2. Seton Hall Pirates:

At 21-10 (10-8 in the Big East) including wins over Texas Tech, Louisville, Butler twice and close losses to Villanova and Xavier – both projected as number one seeds in the tournament – Seton Hall is the type of scrappy team that you do not want to face in March.

With four players averaging over 13 points per game in Desi Rodriguez (18.1), Myles Powell (15.6), Khadeen Carrington (14.8) and Angel Delgado (13.4),

Seton Hall’s balanced scoring attack and impressive five road wins in a gritty Big East conference could have them making a run as a projected nine seed.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes:

The Ohio State Buckeyes are the turnaround team of the country. With a 24-8 (15-3 in the Big Ten) record led by the Big Ten Player of the Year and Wooden Award finalist Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State went from not even making the NIT Tournament a season prior to a likely four or five seed in the tournament.

With a dynamite hire of first-year head coach Chris Holtmann from Butler, the emergence of Bates-Diop as a bona fide two-way superstar and a solid core of role players in Jae’Sean Tate, Kaleb Wesson and Kam Williams, the defensive minded Buckeyes will be a tough out and are poised to make a deep run in the tournament for the first time since their national championship loss to the Florida Gators in 2007. 

4. Virginia Tech Hokies:

When you think of ACC teams that could make a deep run in March, teams like Virginia, Duke and North Carolina come to mind as each of these top-ten teams will be one or two seeds in their respective regions. But do you know the only team to beat all three of these teams this season? It was none other than the Virginia Tech Hokies.

The Hokies, with a 21-10 (10-8 in the ACC) record, are the type of upset-minded team to rise to the occasion in big games. With five players averaging double figures in scoring, the projected eight seed Hokies want their program to be in the conversation of elite teams in the ACC. They will force their way in this March.  

Contact Jake Rosenstein at [email protected]