Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/17/14
Teams that could falter come tournament time Duke- They’ve been phenomenal so far this season and have already won three games against top five opponents, but I’ve noticed something very disturbing about this team- they have no bench. Their starting line-up displays the perfect blend of youth and experience and has proven they can beat anyone, but as the year goes on players get tired legs and can get figured out bit. Duke has recently been susceptible to the early knockout in the tournament, and it’s usually against smaller, hungrier schools. Mason Plumlee finally looks like the All-American he was recruited to be, so as long as he continues to play at this level Duke could make a run, but they’ll need more than six bench points if they want to remain a force going forward. Creighton- They had a nice win against Wisconsin only to lose to Boise State the game after. Doug McDermott is the real deal, which allows them to compete against anyone, but their overall athleticism and play-making ability seems to be lacking. Creighton will surely fall from number 11 after last night’s loss, but they will still be overrated. I have no doubt Creighton will make the tournament, but once the tournament starts they will be exposed as a team that lacks quickness and explosive ability, something Antoine Young provided them with last year. Kansas- Jeff Withey put together a monster game the other night featuring a career high 12 blocks, but Kansas lacks consistency. They’re currently 5-1 and ranked 10th in the AP poll, but their level of competition has been low, with the exception of their loss to Michigan State. Elijah Johnson is a terrific shooter and on-the-ball defender, but needs to show more leadership. Kansas, like Duke, has also been boom or bust in the tournament recently and if players such as Perry Ellis and Ben McLemore don’t improve, they’ll be headed for another early exit. Michigan- Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in Nick Stauskas, Trey Burke, and Glen Robinson III, and with Tim Hardaway Jr. returning to form Michigan is playing some great basketball right now. Unfortunately, Michigan hasn’t had a lot of success in the tournament in recent years (highlighted by their first round loss to Ohio University last year). I’m just starting to get the vibe this is a team that’s peaking too soon. Teams will figure out how to defend Stauskas and make Hardaway settle for jumpers, which is something he’s not very efficient at. Michigan has all the talent and big-play ability to make a deep run in the tournament, but I’m still wary of them at this point. Illinois- Maybe a coaching change is all they needed, but I doubt it. Their tournament win in Maui was impressive, especially their double-digit victory over a Butler team that had just beaten North Carolina. Brandon Paul is a superstar, and Joseph Bertrand is playing terrific, but Illinois has a serious lack of depth in the post. Teams like Indiana, Michigan State, and Ohio State will be able to out muscle them. Maybe Illinois’ hot streak will turn into a special season, but I think they will run into some trouble against a physical, veteran opponent. Teams that should improve come tournament time North Carolina State- I ranked them number one entering the season, and that was clearly a reach. Richard Howell has struggled with foul trouble, C.J. Leslie has looked disinterested at times, and they just don’t seem to be playing together at all. Freshmen Rodney Purvis and T.J. Warren have shown they can play at this level, but both of them need to get tougher on defense. Lorenzo Brown and Leslie need to take control of this offense and get them playing up to their immense potential. If they do that before the tournament starts N.C. State can still make a championship run. UNLV- The loss to Oregon was a minor blip in the grand scheme of things. The more important development for them has been the play of freshman Anthony Bennett. Through five games he’s averaging 19.5 pts. and 7.5 reb. If he can continue playing at that level, and Mike Moser can regain his form from last year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the Final Four. UCLA- They were overrated when the season began, and probably aren’t a Final Four team this season, but the addition of Shabazz Muhammad and loss of Joshua Smith will help. Smith never committed himself to losing weight and reaching his full potential. With him now gone, the remaining players can have a more positive attitude and play alongside Muhammad, their best player and now leader. Once Muhammad gets settled in and teams up with the Wear twins better, UCLA will be a force by the end of the season. Michigan State- They can’t look any worse right? I appreciate the fact that they historically start slow and slowly get more comfortable as the season goes on, but at the end of the day you need to be able to score more than 65 points. Appling is quickly looking like one of the best point guards in college basketball, but he’s receiving little help at this point. Turnovers have killed them on offense and it’s not getting any better. Getting Travis Trice and Gary Harris back from injury will help, but their overall aggressiveness on the offensive end needs to amp up dramatically, and I think it will. Baylor- Their two big wins against Lehigh and St. Johns shows why expectations are so high for this team, but their loss against Charleston showed how inconsistent they can be. Pierre Jackson and Isaiah Austin are the real deal and their inside/outside game could be lethal for other teams in tournament, but they need to cut-back on the turnovers and improve on defense. Once Brady Heslip returns he’ll provide them with a deadly shooter that can stretch the defense away from Austin.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jay Cutler to start again due to Jimmy Clausen concussion

Aldon Smith was reportedly drinking with Ray McDonald

Johnny Manziel ruled out for Week 17 with injury

Dwyane Wade hopes Heat fans give LeBron a warm reception

Adam Silver: No NBA team is tanking

Penguins having three more players tested for mumps

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jay Cutler is not the answer for the Titans

Josh Smith released by Detroit Pistons in surprising move

13 amazing NFL stats from Week 16

JJ Watt's bloody face defines 2014 campaign

Dominic Raiola insists he didn't intentionally stomp opponent

Jets call themselves the best 3-12 team in NFL history

WATCH: BYU, Memphis fight after Miami Beach Bowl

FSU sends recruit 75 reasons to play for Seminoles

Dale Earnhardt Jr., girlfriend wear great Christmas sweaters

Brandon Marshall: Raiola mocked my mental illness

Don't mess with Seahawks punter Jon Ryan

Niners OT asked Manti Te'o about his fake girlfriend

Darren Sproles' wife Michel fires back at Eagles critics

Steve Smith expects 'couch quarterback' criticism

WATCH: Tennessee walk-on gets scholarship as bowl gift

Raiders player gives game check to young girl in need

Game of the week: Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers

Yankees pay for education of slain officer's children

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

BYU, Memphis fight after bowl game

FSU sends recruit an eccentric pitch

Brandon Marshall unloads on Raiola

Did Aldon Smith violate probation?

Johnny Manziel ruled out for Week 17

An appreciation for Marshawn Lynch's crotch grab touchdown celebrations

D-Wade: Heat fans should cheer LeBron

Niners OT asked Te'o about fake girlfriend

Sproles' wife fires back at Eagles critics

Game of the week: Lions vs. Packers

'Manny' is the must-watch documentary about Manny Pacquiao

Breaking up the Brooklyn Nets

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.