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Everything Athlon Sports Got Right and Wrong in the 2015-16 College Basketball Season


In many ways, this has been an unpredictable first weekend — Middle Tennessee’s historic upset of Michigan State, Northern Iowa’s one-of-a-kind collapse, rare NCAA tournament wins for Yale and Hawaii.

At the same time, the Sweet 16 field is totally predictable. All four No. 1 seeds advanced to the second weekend. Blue bloods like Kansas, Duke, North Carolina and Indiana are in every bracket. The lowest-seeded teams to make it this far are familiar names — Wisconsin, Syracuse and Gonzaga.

As the NCAA Tournament moves into its second weekend, this is a perfect time look back at Athlon’s picks for the 2015-16 season. Like many college basketball coaches looking back on their own seasons, we saw some things we liked and some things we didn’t.

Our preseason No. 1 team (Kentucky) is already out of the field. Our preseason No. 2 team (Duke) played with fire against UNC Wilmington and Yale, but still advanced to the second round.

Yet, Kentucky is the only team in our top preseason seven that didn’t reach the Sweet 16.

We’ll take that.

Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly of how Athlon’s preseason college basketball preview stacked up with the Sweet 16 and the overall field.

• Athlon had 13 teams from the Sweet 16 in our preseason top 25. Miami, Notre Dame and Syracuse are the only Sweet 16 teams we did not have in our preseason top 25, though we projected all three in the field. 

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Here’s how our top 25 compared with the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament:

Athlon's Top 25 in the Sweet 16

Other Athlon Top 25 Teams


No. 2 Duke

No. 1 Kentucky

Lost to Indiana in the second round

No. 3 North Carolina

No. 8 Arizona

Lost to Wichita State in the first round

No. 4 Maryland

No. 12 Michigan State

Lost to Middle Tennessee in the first round

No. 5 Virginia

No. 13 Cal

Lost to Hawaii in the first round

No. 6 Kansas

No. 14 Wichita State

Lost to Miami in the second round

No. 7 Iowa State

No. 15 Vanderbilt

Lost to Wichita State in the First Four

No. 9 Oklahoma

No. 16 Purdue

Lost to Little Rock in the first round

No. 10 Villanova

No. 18 UConn

Lost to Kansas in the second round

No. 11 Gonzaga

No. 20 Butler

Lost to Virginia in the second round

No. 17 Indiana

No. 22 Michigan

Lost to Notre Dame in the first round

No. 19 Wisconsin

No. 23 Louisville


No. 21 Oregon

No. 24 SMU


No. 25 Texas A&M



• Athlon's preseason bracket predicted 43 of the 68 teams in the field. Among the 25 teams Athlon predicted to be in the field that didn’t make it were the two ineligible teams that would have made the field under normal circumstances (Louisville and SMU). The Mustangs were banned form the postseason Sept. 30, and the Cardinals announced their self-imposed ban in February.

Our preseason picks included eight regular season champions in one-bid leagues that were upset in conference tournaments: North Florida (Atlantic Sun), Hofstra (Colonial), UAB (Conference USA), Valparaiso (Horizon), San Diego State (Mountain West), Belmont (Ohio Valley), Texas Southern (SWAC) and New Mexico State (WAC).

A generous reading, then, would say Athlon pinpointed 53 NCAA Tournament-caliber teams: The 43 teams that actually made the field, the two teams that were banned from the post season and eight one-bid conference champions.

• Athlon missed on nine teams from major conferences that made the field as at-large bids. Seeding-wise, Seton Hall was our biggest miss. The Pirates won the Big East tournament and earned No. 6 seed, but lost to Gonzaga in the first round. We projected Seton Hall as the No. 8 team in the Big East and going to the NIT. USC probably was the biggest overall miss, as Athlon picked the Trojans to finish 11th in the Pac-12. Andy Enfield's team ended up making the tournament safely as a No. 8 seed.

These are the major teams that we projected for the NIT or worse that made the NCAA Tournament:


We predicted...

What actually happened...


Eighth in Pac-12, NIT

No. 8 seed, lost to No. 9 UConn


10th in ACC, NIT

No. 10 seed, lost to No. 7 Wisconsin

Seton Hall

Eighth in Big East, NIT

No. 6 seed, lost to No. 11 Gonzaga

St. Joseph's

Seventh in A-10

No. 8 seed, beat No. 9 Cincinnati, lost to No. 1 Oregon


Seventh in AAC

No. 10 seed, lost to No. 7 Iowa

Texas Tech

Eighth in Big 12

No. 8 seed, lost to No. 9 Butler


Fourth in AAC, NIT

No. 11 seed, lost to No. 11 Michigan


11th in Pac-12

No. 8 seed, lost to No. 9 Providence


Fourth in A-10, NIT

No. 10 seed, lost to No. 2 Oklahoma

• Athlon predicted seven major teams to make the field, but they ended up in the NIT or worse (not counting Louisville and SMU)


We predicted...

What actually happened...


Fifth in SEC, NCAA First Four

Tied for eighth in SEC, NIT

Florida State

Sixth in ACC, NCAA second round

11th in ACC, NIT


Fourth in Big East, NCAA second round

Eighth in Big East


Fourth in SEC, NCAA second round

Tied for third in SEC

NC State

Ninth in ACC, NCAA First Four

13th in ACC

Rhode Island

Second in A-10, NCAA first round

Seventh in A-10


Fourth in Pac-12, NCAA second round

10th in Pac-12