Which football powerhouse could cut down nets at the Final Four?

Which football powerhouse could cut down nets at the Final Four?

Herbert Jones #1 of Alabama dribbles across half court against Trendon Watford #2 of LSU during the second half of their championship game in the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 14, 2021 in Nashville,
Herbert Jones #1 of Alabama dribbles across half court against Trendon Watford #2 of LSU during the second half of their championship game in the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 14, 2021 in Nashville,
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The Madness is finally back, and the matchups are finally set for what will be one of the strangest NCAA tournaments in recent history. Not only will COVID-19 likely have an impact on the games within the Indiana “bubble,” but this year we are missing some of the most storied programs in all of college basketball. It’ll be the first time since 1976 that Duke and Kentucky were absent from the field.

However, with the usuals out of the way, doors have opened for other schools — including the nation’s top traditional football powers — to make a mark on the court. We took the time to break down which of these football-centric institutions also has what it takes to bring home a championship on the hardwood.

Let’s get into it.

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LSU (18-9) 8 seed East

LSU (18-9) 8 seed East

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LSU comes into the tournament as an eighth seed and will have a tough matchup against a good St. Bonaventure team that won the A-10 conference tourney. The Tigers lost a heartbreaker in the SEC championship against Alabama, who is the No. 2 seed in the East region. LSU will be very dangerous in the tourney because they have four players that could easily get you 20 on any given night. Trendon Watford just dropped 30 against a Crimson Tide team with a stout defense and Javonte Smart and Darius Days can each make timely shots. Not to mention freshman Cameron Thomas will likely be a lottery pick in this year’s NBA draft. The Tigers do have problems defensively at times, but if they get hot they could easily make a long tourney run.

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Clemson (16-7) 7 seed Midwest

Clemson (16-7) 7 seed Midwest

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Clemson finished fifth in the ACC this year but was second in the conference in scoring defense by only allowing 62 points per game. The committee gave them a No. 7 seed in the Midwest region and they will take on a surprise Rutgers team. Defense can still get you far in today’s basketball, but when you finish last in your conference in scoring like Clemson did this season, it’s going to be hard for you to pull out wins consistently in this tournament. I don’t see the Tigers getting past the round of 32.

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USC (22-7) 6 seed West

USC (22-7) 6 seed West

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The Trojans were second in their conference in both scoring offense and scoring defense this season. They’ll come into the tournament as a No. 6 seed who will play the winner of the Wichita State versus Drake play-in game. USC is a talented team that could easily make it to the Sweet 16 when it’s all clicking together. In a potential Kansas versus USC second-round matchup, I believe the Trojans will come out on top.

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Oklahoma St (20-8) 4 seed Midwest

Oklahoma St (20-8) 4 seed Midwest

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The Cowboys have arguably the best player in the entire tournament in Cade Cunningham. After an impressive showing in the Big 12 tournament, where they took down Baylor who is now a one seed, Oklahoma State looks like a team that could get hot at the right time. Often coaching can be underestimated in the tournament. Making adjustments on the fly in crucial situations could be the difference between a first-round exit and a Final Four run. Cowboys’ coach Mike Boynton has proven he can step up and do just that. Oklahoma State was given a 4 seed in the Midwest region and if Cunningham gets hot I could see them being in a Battle with Illinois in the Sweet 16.

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Texas (19-7) 3 seed East

Texas (19-7) 3 seed East

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Texas just took home the Big 12 tournament crown and they have one of the most cohesive units that head coach Shaka Smart has ever had in his tenure in Austin. Matt Coleman and Andrew Jones can provide key shot-making for Texas and Jericho Sims provides a force on the inside that can block and alter shots. The Longhorns were in the top five in their conference in both scoring defense and scoring offense. Texas could string together a few wins in the tournament but I think their road will end once they face Alabama in the Sweet 16.

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Alabama (24-6) 2 seed East

Alabama (24-6) 2 seed East

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Alabama has every ingredient needed to win the entire tournament. They defend, they’re tough, and they can make shots. The Crimson Tide just captured its first SEC conference tournament title in 30 years, led by SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Herb Jones. It’s a senior-led team that still has a lot to prove moving forward and could easily wind up in the National Championship if they get hot from three. The committee gave Alabama the highest No. 2 seed ranking in the tournament, and it could set up an entertaining matchup with Michigan in the Elite Eight. The only problem they’ll face is if they aren’t hitting shots, it could be hard for them to grind out games against explosive teams. However, they’ve shown the ability to be able to do it especially against high-level SEC competition. Expect Bama to make a long run in the tourney.

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