NCAAB

The 10 Most Overrated Teams in the 2024 NCAA Tournament

Austin Swaim
Austin SwaimASwaim3
The 10 Most Overrated Teams in the 2024 NCAA Tournament

For as random as a basketball can bounce, handicapping the NCAA Tournament to fill out a bracket is a numbers game.

We sometimes forget the simplest of concepts behind building a bracket the way the NCAA does. The higher a team is seeded, the easier -- in theory -- their path is to win through matchups to advance. Therefore, we want to target top seeds when projecting who wins it all.

However, this field is not perfectly ranked. We know that entering the dance. There are 4 seeds that could have been 2 seeds, 8 seeds that barely squeaked into the dance, and 13 seeds that might lose to NIT teams by 20 points.

While lopping off any team below a 12 seed to save time, which 10 teams with a decent shot to advance multiple rounds might actually be the most overrated in the tournament? I took a look through numberFire's nERD rankings -- as well as our trusty friends' data at KenPom and Bart Torvik -- to find out.

The 10 Most Overrated Teams in the 2024 NCAA Tournament

UAB Blazers (12 Seed, East Region)

nERD: 4.35

nERD vs. Seed Average: -3.97

Several upsets in conference tournaments led to a weaker "guaranteed appearance" field than usual, and the UAB Blazers are proof of that.

After the Florida Atlanta Owls were upset by Temple in the AAC semifinals, the Blazers rolled over the 16-19 Owls in Sunday's title game to claim this automatic bid. The problem? They're not a 12 seed on paper.

UAB's 4.35 nERD lags behind all other 12 seeds in the tournament by a good margin; all others are showing at least 8.00. The average KenPom ranking for the four 12 seeds in this year's field is 69.5, but the Blazers (109th) are dragging that down considerably.

Most might look at the glacial pace and mediocre offense of the San Diego State Aztecs and call their 12-5 upset with UAB, but I'll pass.

Duquesne Dukes (11 Seed, East Region)

nERD: 6.43

nERD vs. Seed Average: -3.13

It's pretty absurd the committee looked at the New Mexico Lobos and Duquesne Dukes so similarly.

New Mexico is 23rd overall in KenPom, and Duquesne is 86th, trailing all 12 seeds except UAB -- and even a pair of 13 seeds. By all accounts, Duquesne might be a bit overrated despite emerging from a wild Atlantic 10 Tournament that saw many of the top regular-season teams eliminated. After all, they were just 10-8 in conference this year before it started.

numberFire has the Dukes (6.34 nERD) as the worst 11 seed, and to make matters worse, they're projected to play numberFire's best 6 seed: the BYU Cougars (14.39 nERD).

Weird stuff can happen in the very first game of the tournament, which this one will be. Other than that, I'm expecting Brigham Young to cruise into the Round of 32. The Dukes' 190th-ranked three-point defense (in terms of attempts allowed) could be an issue early and often.

Texas A&M Aggies (9 Seed, South Region)

nERD: 10.19

nERD vs. Seed Average: -0.23

The SEC is well-represented on this list to come, and the Texas A&M Aggies are our first taste of the conference as a 9 seed.

It's tough to call the Aggies as "overrated" as other teams on the list when they've recently upset the Kentucky Wildcats and Tennessee Volunteers before falling to the Florida Gators in the 2024 SEC Tournament. They're dangerous, but the writing on the wall is there for a quick exit.

In short, Texas A&M struggles to make baskets. Among 363 D1 schools, the Aggies are 344th in effective field-goal rate (45.4 eFG%). Add in a random, new stadium and random Friday afternoon timing for their battle with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and don't be surprised if they score 20 points in a half during the dance.

numberFire believes the Aggies (10.19 nERD) aren't as weak of a 9 seed as the Northwestern Wildcats (9.93 nERD), but Nebraska's 30th-ranked defense (per KenPom) should give them fits to advance beyond Friday.

Florida Atlantic Owls (8 Seed, East Region)

nERD: 11.32

nERD vs. Seed Average: +0.11

Northwestern dodged this list in part due to their first-round opponent.

The aforementioned Owls blew an automatic bid as a 14-point favorite against Temple, and some were stunned they even made it to the tournament at all -- much less as an 8 seed.

At Bart Torvik, this year's 8 seeds have an average ranking of 40.5; FAU lags well behind that in 52nd.

Florida Atlantic's 11.32 nERD implies a tournament team, but clearly, their seed was boosted after last year's run to the Final Four with some returning parts. It's not even a lock they go home in the first round with Northwestern the lower-ranked team at nF.

Nonetheless, Florida Atlantic would draw the mighty UConn Huskies in the second round, and consider me flatly stunned if their 109th-ranked D (per KenPom) got enough stops against the nation's top-rated offense.

While they could still advance from this matchup, I'm all but writing off a back-to-back Cinderella runs for the AAC's top squad.

Dayton Flyers (7 Seed, West Region)

nERD: 11.50

nERD vs. Seed Average: +0.01

I'm sorry to do this to our own Aidan Cotter, the staff's resident Flyers superfan.

The Dayton Flyers can't be fully trusted as a 7 seed when they just fell to Duquesne -- likely not a tournament team if eliminated -- in the A-10 Tournament. Recent losses to the George Mason Patriots and Loyola Chicago Ramblers made it so that Dayton enters the tournament having lost three of their last six games.

The A-10 has historically made some noise in the tournament, but the Flyers' excellent record (24-7) might have overvalued them here. Dayton is the weakest 7 seed at Bart Torvik (40th overall), and their 87th-ranked defense and 337th-ranked tempo at KenPom are both ingredients of a team that could be streaky.

Interestingly, Bart Torvik has the opposing 10 seed Nevada Wolfpack at 36th overall in their rankings and slightly favored, and the crowd should favor Nevada closer to home in Salt Lake City.

Sorry, Aidan; I'm picking the Wolfpack to advance.

South Carolina Gamecocks (6 Seed, Midwest Region)

nERD: 9.43

nERD vs. Seed Average: -2.78

Our second SEC school might be the best women's basketball program on the planet at present, but the South Carolina Gamecocks on the men's side might not deserve a 6 seed.

South Carolina's 9.43 nERD lags well behind all other 6 seeds north of 11.00, and KenPom and Bart Torvik agree. KenPom has a 30.8 average ranking for 6 seeds with the Gamecocks at 49th, and BT has the average at 32.0 with South Carolina sitting 47th overall.

Lamont Paris' group has two key potential pitfalls on paper. They're 307th across Division I at forcing turnovers, and they play at a molasses-like pace (353rd).

The Pac-12 champion Oregon Ducks could be a pretty popular section for an upset here when N'Faly Danté could really hurt a usual strength of the Gamecocks, who rank 56th in offensive rebounding. If Danté limits second chances, South Carolina could struggle to keep pace.

Alabama Crimson Tide (4 Seed, West Region)

nERD: 15.79

nERD vs. Seed Average: +1.72

Warning signs were fired against the Alabama Crimson Tide entering last year's tournament as the top overall seed, and this watered-down version without Brandon Miller is vulnerable, too.

Alabama's 112th-ranked defense (per KenPom) is the formula we love to seek out for potential tournament upsets, and they also send opponents to the free-throw line at the 44th-highest rate in the country. That's a huge bump for the No. 13 College of Charleston Cougars, who are pretty well-rounded on paper outside of the nation's 332nd-ranked rate of getting to the charity stripe.

The Tide lost four of their last six games to close the season and barely squeaked by 15-16 Arkansas on their home floor just nine days ago. The current form isn't great here, either.

Adding to the potential variance in this one, they also got an odd draw to head all the way west to Spokane. In my lone personal bracket, I'm sending Alabama home on Friday.

Kentucky Wildcats (3 Seed, South Region)

nERD: 13.68

nERD vs. Seed Average: -1.74

Kentucky just dominated the 2-seeded Tennessee Volunteers on their home floor, so thinking they don't have the upside to win several tournament games would be crazy.

However, the book is out on John Calipari's squad, whose last Final Four appearance came in 2015. They enter the Big Dance with a similar profile to Alabama; you love their 5th-ranked offense (per KenPom), but the 108th-ranked D is an eyesore.

The Wildcats are the only 3 seed ranked outside the top-18 overall spots at both KenPom and Bart Torvik, and their nERD (13.68) is the only sub-14.00 mark among their seeding peers.

UK's freshman-heavy approach can always lead to misleading overall rankings with the Wildcats come March, but their SEC Tournament loss to Texas A&M lends me to believe this is yet another talented and vulnerable version of Coach Cal's guys.

I'd be pretty stunned if they broke through an underrated region overall.

Marquette Golden Eagles (2 Seed, South Region)

nERD: 15.18

nERD vs. Seed Average: -1.15

I have no choice but to put the Marquette Golden Eagles here even though they're one of the eight schools that currently fit the historical criteria to win it all. We all laughed at UConn in that group last year as a 4 seed, but they prevailed.

Marquette was little brother'd by UConn three times this season in the Big East, but UConn might find their own demise elsewhere and open the door for this quality team. The Golden Eagles sit just 13th overall in nERD -- a sentiment echoed by KenPom (12th). Only Bart Torvik (barely) has them among the top-eight teams in the country (8th).

I'd love to leverage Marquette's poor reputation in my bracket, but their rebounding is a huge concern. They ranked 278th in offensive rebounding rate and 267th on the defensive glass. A large team could bully them into submission.

I wouldn't send the Milwaukee-based squad home early; the lack of size on most mid-majors largely can't exploit their key weakness. I just believe their ultimate ceiling to win it all is capped because of this issue. FanDuel Sportsbook's college basketball odds agree, pegging Marquette (+2000) with the longest odds to win it all of any team that meets the criteria.

North Carolina Tar Heels (1 Seed, West Region)

nERD: 16.77

nERD vs. Seed Average: -2.03

There's a weird dynamic in the West Region where I expect the North Carolina Tar Heels to emerge despite easily being the weakest top seed on paper.

Obviously, with an offense as dynamic as UConn's and a defense as dynamic as the Houston Cougars', some of the other 1 seeds will look poor. It doesn't help that consensus, soon-to-be back-to-back Wooden Award winner Zach Edey plays for the other 1 seed, the Purdue Boilermakers. Therefore, while UNC is a team that can win it all with the right breaks, they don't quite have that same sizzle.

UNC lost the ACC Tournament in the finals to the N.C. State Wolfpack, but the gap in urgency there could have explained a bit of that letdown. RJ Davis and Armando Bacot are a heck of a one-two punch with title-game experience, and it's hard to call them truly "overrated", but the numbers do go there.

The Tar Heels' nERD (16.77) is the lowest of the 1 seeds by a mile; no other team is below 19.25. UNC also ranks just ninth overall at both KenPom and Bart Torvik.

With poor defensive ratings on regional foes like Alabama, Baylor, and Clemson, the West Region looks like a two-horse race between North Carolina and the Arizona Wildcats to me. However, both should still be underdogs in the Final Four if other top seeds make it to Glendale.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.