One team from each NCAA men's tournament region destined to bust your bracket

·4 min read

Today’s assignment is simple — what high seeds could wind up torching your men's NCAA tournament bracket? These are teams to be very careful with before you scribble them down on your Yahoo Fantasy Tourney Pick'Em bracket. I’ll give you one warning team for each region.

Duke (No. 2 seed, West)

The big-picture problem for Duke is that they’re in the Gonzaga region, and the Bulldogs are the obvious favorite to win it all. But I’m not confident the Blue Devils will get to that matchup. Perhaps the pressure of playing in Coach K’s final season has been a burden to this group. How do you lose to North Carolina in Mike Krzyzewski’s Cameron Indoor Stadium finale? Virginia Tech was a late-blooming story, but Duke didn’t look good during a blowout loss in the ACC Tournament Final.

Duke is merely No. 12 overall in the KenPom efficiency rankings — perhaps the 2-seed was charitable. It’s a young team. Duke doesn’t get a lot of easy baskets — it almost never turns an opponent over. Don’t fall in love with brand names. If you want to watch Duke win late in the tournament, go watch the Christian Laettner 30-for-30 again.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils could be in for a shorter than expected NCAA tournament run. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils could be in for a shorter than expected NCAA tournament run. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Tennessee (No. 3 seed, South)

I know, they’re a darling team right now. They prevailed in the SEC Tournament. They easily could have been on the No. 2 line. There’s NBA talent here.

And there’s also Rick Barnes, Mr. Mediocre in the NCAA Tournament. He’s 24 up, 24 down in the dance. This is the coach who had Player of the Year Kevin Durant on a talented Texas team and somehow lost ten games. Do you remember Oregon State knocking out a talented Volunteers team last year, Round 1?

I’m not saying Tennessee has to exit that quickly this time around, mind you. They defend. They’re 92 percent to beat Longwood, per the invaluable analytics site But I worry about how much this team relies on the 3-point shot, and I worry about a tendency to get loose with the ball at times. And I don’t trust Barnes at this time of year.

And even if the Volunteers get to a showdown with Villanova, that’s a bad draw for them. It was months ago, but the Wildcats spanked them by 18 points earlier in the season.

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Purdue (No. 3 seed, East)

About five weeks ago, I loved this team. I wanted to put it in an afghan, make it soup. But the Boilermakers stumbled to a 6-4 finish, exposing some flaws. The defense is inconsistent, opponents get too many open looks. It’s not a good free-throw shooting team.

Purdue also fell into a tough slot; it should get past Yale, but Texas or Virginia Tech look like juicy upset candidates in the next round. I don’t have Purdue making it to the second week.

Providence (No. 4 seed, Midwest)

Up front disclosure, this is where I matriculated. This is my school. And at times I’ve wondered if I’m too hard on the teams I care about, if I’m so concerned about appearing biased that I stray a little too far in the other direction.

Providence was easy to love this year. Experienced team, egoless, cohesive. Head coach Ed Cooley is the uncle you wish you had, a combination of emotion and intelligence. When Providence sat at the top spot on the KenPom luck table — that’s a way of saying you’re winning too many close games — I gave it a shrug. This team has multiple ball handlers and guys who make free throws when it matters, especially the closer, Al Durham. Sometimes you make your own luck.

I wasn’t overly concerned when Creighton dominated the Friars in the Big East Tournament — Providence was due for an off game. But PC’s draw in the Midwest made me want to vomit. South Dakota State is on a 21-game winning streak and is the best 3-point shooting team in the country. Providence is a modest favorite despite a nine-slot disparity in seeding. And if the Friars should survive, Iowa probably calls next, an under-seeded No. 5 problem. The committee obviously didn’t give the Hawkeyes much credit — if any credit — for winning the Big Ten Tournament. Keegan Murray is not to be stopped.

My heart wants what my heart wants. I’ll root for Providence as long as they’re alive. But this is a draw from hell.

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