2017 March Madness Bracket Picks: Vulnerable High Seeds
by Trevor Whenham - 3/14/2017
This is a strange NCAA Tournament bracket . Normally there is plenty of vulnerability up high. This year it doesn't feel that way, though. I see all four No. 1 seeds making the Elite Eight without much challenge. I like at least three of the four No. 2 teams as well - Louisville is the only uncertainty, and only because they have a tough path . So, where are the vulnerable high seeds? On the No. 3 line as it turns out. Three teams at that seed just don't deserve to be there, and all three are going to struggle to live up to their expectations. Two share a conference, which isn't a coincidence. Here are the biggest March Madness vulnerable high seeds:
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No. 3 Oregon: I will admit it - I have never bought into this Oregon team. They have been well-ranked and highly-regarded all year, but I just haven't thought they were worth the hype. The record is impressive, but their nonconference schedule was just plain underwhelming. They beat UCLA twice, but that team is young and I don't trust them mentally in a spotlight (as you will soon see further down the page). They beat Arizona once but lost to them more recently. Beyond that they beat up on a really bad conference. It just doesn't prove a lot.
And then there is the loss of Chris Boucher. A lot of people have been trying to dismiss his impact, but I won't. Boucher led the team in blocks, which the team is very good at, and is key offensively and in other ways as well. I really didn't like their last loss - to Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament. And I really don't like their path - Rhode Island could be a tough high seed in the second round, and either Louisville or Michigan, the likely Sweet 16 opponents, are both better and playing better than Oregon.
The Ducks are a No. 3 seed that shouldn't be one - they would look much better s a 4 or even a 5. I have no problem seeing them fall short well before the Elite Eight.
No. 3 UCLA: Many of the issues I have with Oregon are the same as I have here - their conference schedule proves nothing, and they were not consistently strong in their biggest games. They had that nice win against Kentucky, and there were other big wins, but they still didn't totally conquer the world.
They have ridiculous amounts of talent, but they are young, and their most important players already seem to have at least one eye on the NBA. There are too many distractions - not the least of which being their families - and they don't have the experience to draw on to focus and play at their best. I just don't trust them, and I don't trust the coaching they have to overcome the obstacles in their path.
Cincinnati is a very tough matchup in the second round, and I wouldn't at all be surprised to see UCLA lose that one. If they do get past that then I just don't like their chances at all in the rematch against Kentucky. John Calipari is not going to let another young, loaded team get the drop on him twice in one season.
No. 3 Florida State: It's not that I universally have a thing against No. 3 seeds. Most years I quite like them. This year, though, a lot of the teams that annoy me most are on the same line.
Florida State is the most confusing of them all. I just don't get the love for them. Sure, they were in a three-way tie with Louisville and Notre Dame for second in the strong ACC. It's an illusion, though. This team doesn't do a lot of things super well - they are strong inside, but as soon as the game goes to the arc or beyond they struggle on both ends of the court. Teams can take down offensive rebounds against them at an alarming rate, and it's very easy to get to the line against them. They are athletic and they try to get away with that alone.
And lately they haven't done much of a job of that - they lost seven of their last 16, including losses to UNC, Duke, and Notre Dame twice. I watched that last loss to Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament. They lost by only four, but it never truly felt like it was their game. They just plain aren't good enough to justify this seeding. Florida Gulf Coast is a very dangerous opening game, and the second-round matchup could be tough - especially if it is Xavier. Survive that and they get to run into an Arizona buzzsaw. That won't go well. Don't buy the Seminole hype.
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