Northern Kentucky Norse (Overall: 24-10, Conf: 12-6)
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In just its first year of NCAA Tournament eligibility, Northern Kentucky ran away with the Horizon League conference title en route to its first-ever appearance at the Big Dance. The team even accomplished that feat with a remarkable 15-win turnaround from the previous season, making them an intriguing sleeper pick with a price of +100,000 to win the national title.
Four Norse players averaged double-digits in scoring, led by All-Horizon League selection Drew McDonald. The Cold Spring, Kentucky native is averaging 16.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this season, and he’s one of Northern Kentucky’s trusty forwards that can hit shots from deep as well as any of the team’s backcourt players.
At 6’7″, McDonald is already the Norse’s tallest player on the roster. Judging by the lack of blocks being produced as seen in the chart below, NKU will definitely see a drastic shift in matchup size at the tournament immediately against their first-round opponent and inter-state powerhouse Kentucky.
Not only do the Wildcats have standout big men in the likes of Bam Adebayo and Derek Willis able to shut down the Norse’s post game, history has also outright favored the top-seeded teams in the Big Dance. No 16th-seeded team has ever beaten the No. 1 seed in the national tournament, and Northern Kentucky probably won’t be the first. NKU only faced two teams from Power Five conferences this season and it lost both of those contests by double digits to Illinois (15) and West Virginia (31).
|CATEGORY||STAT / G||NCAA RANK|
|Field goal percentage||45.2||112th|
|Free throw percentage||67.6||273rd|
|G||Lavone Holland II||14.3|
The Norse (+100,000) get manhandled by the Wildcats in the first round.
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