College Basketball Experts Roundtable: Saint Mary’s, Creighton, and Other NCAA Tournament Sleepers

the athleteEamon Brennan, Seth Davis, Brian Hamilton, Brendan Marks, W Justin Williams Contribute to this story.

Seven weeks after the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament kicked off, the athlete He takes stock of the 2022-23 season and predicts what’s to come. With this in mind, a panel of five experts will discuss various topics throughout the week. Next: A look under the radar…

What’s your sleeper team for the second half of the season?

Eamon Brennan: St. Mary’s. Within about 10 days in November and December, and in one night on December 18th at home, he was Giles He did enough to put everyone off the smell. St. Mary’s Non-Conference Performance – When it lost to Washington, New Mexico and the Colorado State (And also Houston in a close game in Fort Worth) – sure the Gaels will struggle to be taken seriously by the “who beat the crowd” no matter what they did in their early league play.

What they’ve done is control the same league as him Gonzaga Fits. Adjusted numbers per possession suggest this is a top defensive bunch—fitting Randy Bennett’s late career evolution into a reliable builder of excellent defenses—and one that has become “better than all but one in the WCC.” Drew TimRecording the competency of a student Aidan Mahaney And most of all, a great striker Kyle Bowenwho flirts with a 50% mark of 3. St. Mary’s is really good, and it won’t be until he plays Gonzaga on February 4th, and/or again on the 25th, that most of the world will come to terms with this fact.


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Which men’s college basketball coach will be fired or retire?

Brian Hamilton: I apologize, but I don’t have a deeper cut or more original take than St. Mary’s here. I really want to give you some Big South B-Side and get away with a program most people are familiar with, or a change from Eamonn’s Choice. I just can’t. I’m not sure why people aren’t paying more attention to the Gaels, especially since the trend lines are so strong. They have the second largest positive change in Ivan Miyakawa’s Bayesian performance ratings in the last 30 days, behind only Alabama. They’ve been second in the Bart Torvik ratings in games since January 1 (again behind Alabama) and have the country’s third-best net rating (plus 28.8) among the last 10 games of all, according to CBB Analytics. Saint Mary guards you into submission, has excellent offensive balance and hits 3s in a pretty decent clip (37.9 percent as a team). And the Gaels seem to be getting better on top of it all.


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Men’s College Basketball Strength Rankings: We’re just here for the general mayhem

Justin Williams: I’m not saying Utah You can win the title or even make it to the Final Four, but give the Utes a team to make some unexpected noise in the Pac-12 down the stretch and win two games in the NCAA Tournament. After going from 11 to 20 in senior year, Craig Smith has got Utah on track to do the dance-off for the first time since 2016, showing how he led a similar turnaround in his three seasons at Utah before arriving at Salt Lake City. Defending like heck, the Utes have a nightmare matchup at 7 feet Brandon Carlson (averaging 17 points and shooting 44 percent from 3-point range) and a knockout shooter at Gabe Madsen (12.1 ppg, 38 percent from 3).

Utah won Arizona By 15 at home on December 1st and going to Tucson on February 16th. The Utes get a second shot against him University of Californiawhom they lost to 19 in Westwood earlier this month, at home on February 23.

Brendan Marks: Okay, so maybe the sleeper isn’t a real contender for the title — I originally picked Xavier, which, you know, isn’t a sleeper anymore — but give me… NC State. Yes, really. *Ducks, avoids things thrown at them duke North Carolina fans*

It’s been 40 years since the Wolfpack won a title (and I don’t expect that to change this season), but as far as a team can make the championship and make a little noise? Well, I love the pieces that Kevin Keats has collected.

This optimism begins with a sophomore Terquavion Smith, a legitimate college star who can score as well as any guard in the country. Ole Miss Transfer Jarkell Joiner was a suitable companion for Smith, relieving some of the pressure on him with his well-timed strike. And in terms of complementary pieces, another pair of transitions — Casey Morsell (Virginia) and DJ Burns (Winthrop) – making consistent contributions, with Burns featuring in particular recently. (Watch out for the imminent return of Dusan Mahorsic And Jack Clark, too, who were plagued by injuries but added much-needed volume to Keats’ rotation). Per BartTorvik, NC State is #19 nationally in terms of efficiency since freshman year, better than every ACC side except Virginia. Ranked 42 in the NET rankings (as of this writing), and without bad losses, the Wolfpack are firmly in the NCAA Tournament picture – and if they qualify, it’s not out of the question that Smith and Co. could. .

Seth Davis: Thank you all for leaving me Creighton Blue Jays! It’s easy to forget that this team was ranked ninth in the preseason AP poll, losing out to Arizona by just two points in Maui and Texas by five. They went through a bad six-game losing streak when Ryan Kalkbrenner They got sick, losing two tough stuff recently at UConn and Xavier. But I still think this team has a run for it, because it has so many ways to score. Creighton is also much better defensively than people give him credit for. The Jays are ranked 21st over KenPom in defensive efficiency, and for games played since December 22, when Kalkbrenner returned, the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, they are ranked 13th nationally in defensive efficiency, per BartTorvik.

Like almost everyone else, Creighton’s success in March will depend on matches. The Bluejays defense is effective but not streaky, and Kalkbrenner is an accomplished player who also doesn’t thrive on physical games. But they also create tough rivalries for the opponent who can’t match the offensive pop. I gave Creighton a Buy-Plus rating in my country hop ideas inventory report, I see no reason to change that now.

(Photo by St. Mary’s Custodian Aidan Mahaney: Emil Lippe/Associated Press)

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