Unranked Teams That Can Win March MadnessRachel Garcia
The NCAA Tournament expanded to the 64-team behemoth we all know and love today in 1985. Since then only two teams have won March Madness as unranked teams in the Associated Polls Top-25. The first was the 1985 Villanova Wildcats, and the second was the Kansas Jayhawks in 1988. That’s two teams out of 29 tries and the 1988 Jayhawks probably should’ve been ranked. The odds are not that great for unranked teams looking to win March Madness in general.
I should probably mention that “ranked” is different than “seeded” and if I have to explain the difference to you, feel free to email me your home address so I can slap some sense in to you in person. Anyways a “ranked team” is one of the top-25 in the country as per the four major polls that circulate throughout the year. Seeds refer to a teams placing in the tournament itself. If you can’t figure out that a 64-team tournament is going to include 39 teams that weren’t “ranked” then I REALLY want to know where you live and how you used a computer to find this article. And if you try to convince me that the dawn of the First Four expanded the tournament to 68, then I want to drop some fisticuffs with you as well.
Now that I’ve gotten THAT out of my system…
Are there any unranked teams in the fold that can win March Madness this year? Of course there are! It’s why we play the games, right? Let’s keep in mind that the top of the rankings has Florida, Wichita State and Villanova in that order while the bottom three teams are SMU, Ohio State and VCU. Villanova just lost a crazy upset against Seton Hall in championship week. The basketball gods are routinely reminding us that nobody is safe.
That might not mean that anyone is going to get past either the Shockers, Gators or Cardinals but there’s a significant chance that a team that has underachieved on almost unimaginable levels suddenly comes alive and puts everything together when it counts. So this is a rundown of my favorite unranked teams that can actually win March Madness. Time to believe…
Unranked Teams That Can Win March Madness
Can The Baylor BearsWin The 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tourney?
The Baylor Bears are such an endearing public team in 2014 that it would be stunning if they didn’t win enough in the Big 12 Tournament to sneak in to March Madness’s backdoor. They’re barely an unranked team, and have been so generally erratic that they never truly earned the trust of the gambling community but in March Madness this team can come alive.
They’re that type of dangerous, energetic squad that can gain momentum and never give it up. And one thing they do really well – rebounding – is an underappreciated asset. Every single team that has won the national title in the last decade has been a force on the boards. Baylor can make it happen and will likely open in that +3000 to +4000 range when they make the tournament.
Yes, I used “when” on purpose.
Can The Pitt Panthers Win The 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tourney?
This has been a frustrating season for Pittsburgh, who haven’t sniffed the polls all season and have remained unranked the entire year. But give them a shot in March Madness and I like their chances more than most. They’re thundering through the ACC Tournament as we speak, and despite a horrifying 12-17-1 ATS record this season, they’ve endeared the crowd lately with a strong 5-1 ATS sprint.
They’re a better team than you might expect and have been insanely close to knocking off all the big names in the ACC throughout the year. Lamar Patterson is an electrifying player who can create shots for his teammates and Talib Zanna might very well be the heart of the team. Zanna is one of those big men who can simply go bonkers in the tournament, and if you’ve watched him play this year then you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, then just trust me. Pittsburgh is absolutely one of the unranked teams that can win March Madness.
Can The North Carolina State Win The 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tourney?
Ok so I’m cheating a bit. I delayed this article to see how they’d do against Syracuse, and holy hell they won 66-63! Once again. T.J. Warren made a big splash scoring 28 points as he led the way. Jordan Vandenberg was the only other player to score in double digits for the Wolfpack and suddenly, a team that nobody has talked about, is starting to get noticed. When you talk about underachievers, NC State is right there but they barely lost to UNC and Syracuse in the regular season.
All seemed lost when they were murdered 60-95 against Duke, but lately the wins have been streaming in for the Wolfpack and they’re also 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games. A late surge by the ACC’s best player – Warren – could push NC State deeper in to the tournament than we expect. If they aren’t on your short list of unranked teams that can win March Madness, then you don’t know how NC State plays basketball historically. Put ‘em on the list.