NCAA Tournament Musings: Breaking Down Potential 12 Seeds

Date | AuthorLyle Harrison

Last Updated: 2018-02-07

Normally, there are two types of teams that earn the No. 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Sometimes, the selection committee presents teams with gaudy records from Mid-Major conferences. Currently, three teams fit the bill. However, these teams find themselves in precarious positions. Although they are slotted as No. 12 seeds, they are in this spot as the automatic berth. Meaning, there’s a chance some of these Mid-Major teams won’t make the NCAA Tournament if they get upset in their respective conference championships. Or, these conference leaders lose and force the selection committee to take multiple teams from a conference that was only in line for one bid.

The second type of team that gets in the No. 12 seed is an underachieving team from a  major conference. More importantly, due to certain rules this underachieving team now has to play in the First Four against another tough team in Dayton. This game could feature one of the potential automatic berth teams that happened to get upset. However, this game could feature a team that’s been solid all year, but never considered the best in their conference. They have over 24 wins, but the conference doesn’t always get the respect they deserve. As a result, the First Four continues to present intriguing and fun matchups on a yearly basis.

The best part is, the No. 12 seed has done well in the NCAA Tournament. Overall, they are (47-85) vs. No. 5 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders were the only 12-seed to win in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Therefore, the No. 12 seeds are due to win at least two Round of 64 games in March.

No. 12 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers vs. No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats (East)

The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (19-5, 9-3) are in first place in the MVC. Right now, they are the lone conference member to earn a potential bid as the conference champion. However, since they are projected as a No. 12 seed, the Ramblers could conceivably earn an at-large bid if they fail to qualify for the automatic berth. Meaning, the MVC is looking like a potential bid-stealer next month. The Ramblers are only one game in front of the Southern Illinois Salukis. Furthermore, the Ramblers have three losses to teams without at-large consideration. Their best win came over Southern Illinois in conference play. The two teams will meet towards the end of the regular season. But if the Ramblers don’t end on a strong note, chances are they will need to earn the automatic berth. Meaning, they might not be able to afford another regular season loss. The Ramblers have a road win over the Florida Gators. Fittingly, they are projected to face another SEC team, Kentucky Wildcats.

The Ramblers score 73.5 points per game. However, it’s their defense that really keeps them above the rest. Currently, they are holding opponents to 63.3 points per game. As a result, the Ramblers have the No. 14 scoring defense in college basketball.

No. 12 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns vs. No. 5 Wichita State Shockers (South)

The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns are (20-3, 10-0) in the Sun Belt. Their RPI is right on the cusp of an at-large team. Their toughest conference test is coming up this week against Georgia State. Once again, the Sun Belt is looking like a one bid league. However, if the Ragin’ Cajuns win out in the regular season and lose in the Sun Belt title game, they could be in line for an at-large selection. However, they would only get in based on the record. They are (0-1) vs. Top 25 teams. That loss was to Clemson. They are also (0-2) vs. 51-100 teams. Meaning, their best win is over the No. 146 RPI Iowa Hawkeyes. As a result, the Ragin Cajuns better be capable of winning the Sun Belt to assure themselves of an NCAA Tournament bid. Still, the No. 12 seed projection means that the Ragin’ Cajuns have a shot at an at-large bid. Unfortunately, any loss in conference play will be considered a bad loss. So far, they have been perfect.

The Ragin’ Cajuns are projected to play the Wichita State Shockers in what would be an intriguing matchup. A few years back, the Shockers were in the same place as the Ragin’ Cajuns. A team that is used to winning has always been a tough out in the NCAA Tournament. The Ragin’ Cajuns would be no different in 2018.

No. 12 New Mexico State Aggies vs. No. 5 Miami Hurricanes (West)

This is the perfect game for the New Mexico State Aggies. They are (20-3, 7-0) in the WAC. The Aggies also have a win over the Miami Hurricanes. Yep, that’s the exact team they are projected to face in the Round of 64. Would the Selection Committee actually pit these two teams against each other in the first round? It’s not likely, but sometimes the committee doesn’t have much of a choice. And with the Aggies slotted to win the WAC, they aren’t a candidate for the First Four. Furthermore, the Hurricanes can’t face a conference foe in the first round.

The Aggies only have two Top 100 wins in the RPI. However, they still possess a Top 50 RPI. The Aggies also have a five point loss to the USC Trojans. If they won that game, the Aggies might be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Their other two losses came to a pair of West Coast Conference teams. The Aggies lost to the Saint Mary’s Gaels by 18 and San Diego Toreros by 5 points. Therefore, they have all the makings of a team that can make a tournament run. However, the Aggies have a long way to go before securing an at-large bid. They have seven regular season games left. At best, they can enter the conference tournament with 27 wins. Would that be enough for the selection committee?

No.12 Boise State Broncos vs. No. 5 Virginia Tech Hokies (First Four- Midwest)

As it stands now, the Boise State Broncos are projected to play the Virginia Tech Hokies in Dayton. The winner would play No. 5 West Virginia Mountaineers in the round of 64. Both teams fit the role of a 12-seed very well. The Broncos are (19-4, 9-2) in the Mountain West Conference. They aren’t in one of the power conferences, so the schedule is devalued. However, they can score points with great size on the perimeter. Guard Chandler Hutchinson is the type of player that can get hot and lead the Broncos to multiple wins in the NCAA Tournament. He is averaging 19.8 points per game. Still, the Broncos need every player to perform well on the offensive side of the ball. Overall, they have four double digit scorers. During the two MWC losses, the Hutchinson scored 27 points apiece. He also had a season high 44 points in a win over San Diego State.

The Hokies are (16-7, 5-5) with eight regular season games left to play. They still have games against three top 10 teams on the current schedule. Although the Hokies are in play for a top four seed in the ACC, they are in survival mode to remain in the NCAA Tournament field. Fortunately, their schedule provides plenty of opportunities to impress the selection committee. The downside- the Hokies have lost 2 of their 3 games against Top 25 opponents. They have five players scoring in double figures. The Hokies are No. 2 in the ACC in field goal percentage. They are able to score with some of the best teams in college basketball.

While all of the other potential 12-seed teams are in smaller conferences, the Hokies are toiling in the middle of the ACC standings. They also have the most opportunities to rise up in the seed projections with the toughest schedule of them all.

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