When looking at the fourth seeds compared to the first seeds it becomes incredibly difficult, especially this season, to say that there is a significant amount of competitive disparity between these respective programs. Essentially, programs that are fourth seeds or better are only deprived of a one seed because they lacked the strength of schedule or requisite opportunities needed to prove themselves. With that being said, the following programs are not without their faults and have been prone to brief albeit noticeable moments of inconsistency. However, when they are healthy and playing to their elite strengths, they are highly capable of dethroning the perceived elite teams in college basketball. While it may be easy to hone your attention in on the likes of North Carolina, Duke or Kansas as favorites to win the tournament, you would be remiss if you did not at least take a closer look at any of these four teams to discover what they can bring to the table.
1. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Losing four out if their last five games of the season, the Red Raiders have practically limped their way into the postseason. However, Texas Tech sill boasts a very stingy defense (64.5 PAPG) that is incredibly tenacious when taking the ball away from their opponent (eight SPG). Although injuries have hurt this teams chances in the tournament to a degree, it has been their recent propensity for turning the ball over that could really dampen their hopes of postseason success if they do not find a way to rectify this fault (13 TPG).
1. Wichita State Shockers
Although a close loss to Cincinnati during the final game of the regular season may have dissuaded some from believing in the Shockers, their versatile offense is one of the most consistent and prolific in college basketball (83.1 PPG). Shooting 48% from the field, the Shockers have the cerebral shooters needed to go far in the tournament, but their defense needs to be a bit more physical if they hope to play with and defeat the tougher opponents in the tournament (70.8 PAPG).
1. Auburn Tigers
When this program gets into a comfortable rhythm offensively, they are incredibly difficult to hold in check as they possess the physical rebounders (38.3 RPG) that can get to the free throw line and consistently make clutch shots (78.9 FT%). If their defense can be simply average rather than close to awful as it has been all season (73.1 PAPG), their prolific and relentless scorers will do the rest for this program that has been one of the many surprise success stories in college basketball this season.
1. Tennessee Volunteers
Although they may not be a high scoring offensive team (74.4 PPG), the impressive ball movement skills (16 APG) and better than you think perimeter shooting abilities of the Volunteers (38.1 3P%) has allowed this team to play highly competitive basketball during crunch time. If their defense can play a bit more consistently when it matters, the Volunteers have the potential to be one of the more complete and well-balanced teams going into the tournament.