Conference play is in full swing across the country, and teams are all working towards the same goal of making the NCAA Tournament.
Over the next two months, as the season moves towards Selection Sunday and the NCAA Tournament, there will be a ton of speculation as to which teams deserve a spot in the tournament, and who should be left on the outside looking in.
There will be plenty of teams who gain a lot of attention as the tournament approaches, and there will be teams who sneak into the field under the radar. Some of these under-appreciated teams are more than capable of making a deep tournament run if they find themselves in the field of 68.
Below, you can find three teams who people aren’t talking a whole lot about, but are more than capable of putting together a deep tournament run come March Madness.
Indiana Hoosiers (#25; 14-3, 4-0)
The Indiana Hoosiers entered the 2015-16 season with a ton of optimism around the program, as many thought they would be a for-sure Final Four team come tournament time. But, after losses to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in the Maui Invitational, people seemed to stop talking about the Hoosiers.
It appears that the lack of attention has helped the Hoosiers in a big way.
After a loss to the Duke Blue Devils, the Hoosiers have since reeled off 9 straight wins to push their record to 14-3, erasing the memory of the dismal trip to Maui in the process. Their 4-0 record in Big Ten play has them tied atop the standings with the Maryland Terrapins, and are 1 of 3 teams with a perfect Big Ten record.
Freshman forward Thomas Bryant has been a star for the Hoosiers this season, averaging 12.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per contest. He has been one of the top freshmen in the country this season, and is living up to the pre-season hype.
Add in Yogi Ferrell, who is putting together another strong season with Indiana, and the Hoosiers look like a top contender for the Big Ten title. James Blackmon, Jr is on the shelf due to injury, but Indiana can still make a deep tournament run with the talent they still have on the floor.
This is the coolest that Tom Crean’s coaching seat has been in the past few seasons.
Wichita State Shockers (NR; 10-5, 4-0)
When the guard duo of Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet announced they were both returning for their senior seasons, people were instantly excited about the 2015-16 season for the Wichita State Shockers. Add in the fact that transfers like Anton Grady and Conner Frankamp chose to play for the Shockers, the sky was the limit for Wichita State this season.
However, the Shockers swiftly fell from the top after a 2-4 start to the season, one that included three straight losses at the AdvoCare Invitational. While they were without VanVleet due to injury, the Shockers looked nothing like the team people thought they could be.
When VanVleet returned to the lineup, the Shockers took off. Since their dreadful start to the season, the Shockers have gone 8-1 over their last 9 games, including a 4-0 start in Missouri Valley play. They have taken down both the Evansville Purple Aces and the Southern Illinois Salukis, two teams who looked like top contenders in the conference this season.
While they started the season on the wrong foot, one thing remains certain: the Shockers are the kings of the Missouri Valley Conference.
With Baker and VanVleet leading the way, the Shockers are more than capable of making a deep NCAA Tournament run this season. If they can keep up the run that they are on now, there’s not a team in the country who will want to see Wichita State in the opening round of the Big Dance.
Texas A&M Aggies (#14; 13-2, 3-0)
All of the talk in the SEC this season has focused on the play of Ben SImmons for the LSU Tigers and the Kentucky Wildcats. One team who has quietly gone about their business, and currently sit atop the conference standings, are the Texas A&M Aggies.
They are starting to gain some traction and some national attention, climbing to #14 in the most recent USA Today Coaches’ Poll, but still aren’t receiving the attention they deserve.
Texas A&M has a strong combination of experienced players and youth, and all of their players have top-tier talent. In terms of experience, the likes of Danuel House, Alex Caruso, and Jalen Jones are leading the way. Add in youngsters like Tyler Davis and Admon Gilder, and the Aggies have a strong unit who could very well win the SEC title this season.
On the season, the Aggies have 8 different players averaging at least 5.7 points per game this season, led by Jones (16.8 ppg) and House (15.7 ppg). Their balanced attack on offense, and overall depth, could lead them on a run through the 2016 NCAA Tournament.