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NCAA Tournament: Teams to Fade in March Madness

SportsGrid logo: MainLogoSportsGrid 3/14/2023 Ben DiGiacomo
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The fun of March Madness is always trying to pick out the upsets. Figuring out that 12, 13, 14, or even 15 seed to pull off an upset is a thrill and provides immense bragging rights. March Madness is more than just the first two days, though.

It’s just as important to find the teams you’re looking to fade that can bring your bracket over the top in the tournament’s later stages. Instead of upset picks, here are some squads we want to fade as the rounds progress.

UCLA Bruins

UCLA is a great team that definitely will be no easy out, but I can’t picture them having a sustained run. They have a favorable first weekend against 15-seeded UNC Asheville and a looming matchup against Boise State or Northwestern, who I don’t see as a severe threat. I won’t count out Boise State from putting up a fight. After that, I see their injuries catching up to them in a big way. Losing Jaylen Clark matters too much, and I can’t see them reaching Houston. I see a veteran-driven Gonzaga team flying under the radar, knocking them out in the Sweet 16. 

Marquette Golden Eagles

We try to use the philosophy of fading tournament champions when looking at these plays. Take Marquette, who strung together a ton of victories against a high-quality Big East to win the tournament. Now, we see the media hyping them up and the public falling for them. I don’t see them losing to Vermont in the opening round, who I think is under-seeded, but watch out for the Michigan State Spartans. They’re legit, and I’ll take Tom Izzo over Shaka Smart. I don’t see Marquette reaching the second weekend.

Tennessee Volunteers

The Volunteers were ranked as the No. 2 team in the AP poll at the start of February, but since then, they’ve gone 5-7. They’ve been inconsistent from beyond the arc and have lost games at the free-throw line, a recipe for a March disaster. Losing Zakai Zeigler is huge, and the Vols just don’t have enough without him to make a run. They should be fine to win a game, but I see the winner of Duke and Oral Roberts sending them home. 

Duke Blue Devils

I said Duke or Oral Roberts for a reason when listing who I thought would put out Tennessee. Oral Roberts is no joke. They’re returning the main contributors from the 2021 15-seeded team that made a run, and now they’re even better. Max Abmas is dropping 20+ regularly and already has proven that he can win in March. Something this young Duke team has not shown. Around him, Oral Roberts went undefeated in conference play and swept their conference tournament. I don’t care what conference you play in; that’s very hard to do.

When we look at Duke, the world saw them run through the ACC to close out the year, with everyone now singing their praises. As the TV analysts say, “they’re legit title contenders.” Remember that 2022 Iowa team who fits nearly the same mold as this Duke team? The Hawkeyes ran through their tournament as a middle-seeded team that had everyone calling them a title contender, just for them to get bounced in the opening round. I see history repeating itself. 

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