Skip to content

Burning Questions: Who outside the top 25 can make the Final Four?

Nov 5, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

Tray Woodall, Jabarie Hinds

Real, live college basketball games start on Friday, and with all of our glorious preseason content finally finished, this week we will be providing you with water cooler fodder as we roll through a series of Burning Question. You can read them all right here.

First up: Which team outside the AP top 25 can make a run to the Final Four?

The Atlantic 10 pick-em (Troy Machir) Yeah that’s right, I said it. Listen, I know the Big Ten is loaded this year and chalk full of really talented players. But the Atlantic-10 may end up being the deepest conference in the country. Think about it: Temple, St. Joseph’s, Saint Louis, Xavier, VCU, Butler, heck, throw in Dayton a well. By the time the NCAA tournament rolls around, half the A-10 will have already played in a handful of high pressure tournament-like games.  Imagine Xavier playing VCU and Butler back-to-back? That’s like +100 experience. Plus, since not a single A-10 team cracked the AP Top-25, I have a slew of teams to choose from, and I’m confident that any of them are talented enough to make a Final-Four run.

Pittsburgh (Raphielle Johnson): Hear me out. Tray Woodall’s healthy after his injuries essentially left the Panthers without a consistent point guard and sabotaged their 2011-12 season. And the addition of Trey Zeigler on the perimeter gives Pitt a player who can make things happen off the dribble, something the sorely lacked last year. Add in front court depth bolstered by the addition of Steven Adams, and some solid wings in Lamar Patterson and J.J. Moore, and the Panthers have the ability to make their final Big East season a special one. They won’t be picked on the level of a Louisville or Syracuse in the Big East, but why can’t Jamie Dixon’s squad get into the mix with the likes of Cincinnati and Notre Dame? Keep an eye on Pitt as the season progresses.

Butler (Eric Angevine): Rotnei Clarke sports a career 42% three point shooting mark and once scored 51 points in a game. You have no idea how much I wish he had been a Butler Bulldog rather than an Arkansas Razorback in 2011, when the Bulldogs put on a clank-fest in the national title game, scoring just 41 points. His hot hand should make things so much easier for Andrew Smith on the blocks, and create space for Khyle Marshall to further develop his game. Add in plenty of tough non-conference games to season up a strong recruiting class and a spot in a multi-bid league. It’s crazy enough, it just might work.

St. Joseph’s (Daniel Martin): The biggest thing going for St. Joe’s this year is the number of players they have returning. Chemistry has a way of showing itself in March and the Hawks have it. Carl Jones and Langston Galloway together averaged close to 33 points per game last season, making up a backcourt that can hang with most anyone. Add that to a frontcourt that includes 2011-12 A-10 Defensive Player of the Year C.J. Aiken, along with Ronald Roberts and Halil Kancevic and St. Joe’s could be college basketball’s Cinderella team in March.

Kansas State (Rob Dauster): People really must hate Bruce Weber, because that’s the only explanation for why Kansas State finds themselves ranked so low heading into the season. The Wildcats were an eight-seed last season, and outside of Frank Martin’s departure for South Carolina, the only person they lost off of last year’s team was Jamar Samuels. One of the players that returns is Big 12 Player of the Year candidate Rodney McGruder. Two more are talented-but-inconsistent sophomores Angel Rodriguez and Thomas Gipson, and if there’s anything we know, it’s that sophomores tend to iron out those inconsistencies. This is a group being coach by an offensive mind that has already been drilled on how to play defense. Buy low. Trust me.

Latest Posts
  1. Tennessee fires head coach Donnie Tyndall after one season

    Mar 27, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpte3owi1njbhnjg0mtc2yjbkzdgzmdzhnzm2mtbjytc1 AP

    Tennessee has parted ways with head coach Donnie Tyndall after only one season.

  2. Tourney Snacks: Kentucky, Notre Dame win in Midwest; Arizona, Wisconsin advance to set up Elite Eight rematch

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:45 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    The Elite Eight will feature a rematch in the West Regional between Arizona and Wisconsin and Kentucky battling Notre Dame in the Midwest Regional.

  3. Updated tournament records: Kentucky moves SEC above .500

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:00 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Kentucky’s win also means that the Big 12 is down to one team: Oklahoma.

  4. No. 2 Arizona pulls away from No. 6 Xavier, setting up West regional final rematch

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:59 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Arizona played slightly better on both ends of the floor in the second half, and they’ll take on No. 1 Wisconsin as a result.

  5. Kentucky responds to Daxter Miles Jr.’s pregame comments

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:48 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    If you are going to talk, you better be able to back it up

  6. Tip times, announcer pairing and channel guide for 2015 Elite 8

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:19 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The schedule for Saturday has been released.

  7. #POSTERIZED: Jalen Reynolds dunks on Kaleb Tarczewski (VIDEO)

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:11 AM EDT

    Jalen Reynolds Jalen Reynolds

    Jalen Reynolds dunks everything he gets his hands on, it seems.

  8. No. 1 Kentucky dominates No. 5 West Virginia to advance to Elite 8

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:06 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    No. 1 Kentucky looked completely dominant in an easy win over No. 5 West Virginia.

  9. Sam Dekker, Frank Kaminsky lead No. 1 Wisconsin to second consecutive Elite Eight

    Mar 26, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT

    (AP) AP

    After Dekker scored 15 points in the first half, Kaminksy scored 15 in the second half for the Badgers.

  10. USC sophomore guard Kahlil Dukes to transfer

    Mar 26, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Dukes averaged 2.1 points in 7.2 minutes of action per game.

  11. Josh Jackson, No. 1 player in Class of 2016, cuts his list to nine schools

    Mar 26, 2015, 5:35 PM EDT

    2014 Under Armour Association Finals

    Josh Jackson, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2016, is down to nine schools.

  12. Virginia Tech’s leading scorer Adam Smith to transfer, will be eligible immediately

    Mar 26, 2015, 4:24 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Adam Smith averaged a team-high 13.4 points per game as a redshirt junior.

  13. Tip times, channel guide for the 2015 Sweet 16

    Mar 26, 2015, 1:25 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Here is the schedule for the Sweet 16

  14. Reports: NCAA meets with Donnie Tyndall second time, investigation nears end

    Mar 26, 2015, 1:16 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpte3owi1njbhnjg0mtc2yjbkzdgzmdzhnzm2mtbjytc1 AP

    Will Tyndall be able to survive the investigation?

  15. Dayton extends Archie Miller’s contract through 2021-22

    Mar 26, 2015, 12:53 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Archie Miller is one of the hottest names in coaching, and Dayton is trying to keep him around as long as possible.