The beauty of March Madness is the Cinderella story and the upsets along the way. Each year there are top-seeded teams who fall earlier than expected and this year it will be no different. Three favorites are sure to be sent packing this week.
In last year's tournament, we saw three teams who were never really on upset alert bow out in the first round. Those teams were Vanderbilt, Louisville and Georgetown.
What about this year?
Vanderbilt (No. 5) and Georgetown (No. 3) will play just one game again. And Wisconsin (No. 4) will join the party of underachievers.
Here's why you shouldn't be writing in these three names on your bracket.
No. 3 Georgetown Hoyas (Midwest Region)
In 2011, the Georgetown Hoyas shocked the world by losing to a team that barely squeaked into the tournament at all. It turns out the Hoyas were really just the second team of five to fall to the Virginia Commonwealth Rams, who marched into the Final Four.
This year Georgetown will be stunned again.
The No. 3 seed in the Midwest behind North Carolina and Kansas, the Hoyas would be in a good spot to make a run to the Sweet 16. But they'll have to get by a very good Belmont team first.
For the fifth time in seven years, the Belmont Bruins proved the Atlantic Sun Conference was all theirs. Led by guard Kerron Johnson, the Bruins also nearly upset Duke at Cameron Indoor, eventually losing by just one point.
Belmont is a terrific team in all aspects of the game. The team averages nearly nine three-pointers a game and is excellent at swinging the ball, averaging 17.4 assists.
While Georgetown has had a terrific body of work this year, the team might not be able to keep pace with the Bruins and their long-range shooting. The advantage the Hoyas truly have is size on the perimeter, but John Thompson lll's squad isn't one built on shooting.
Georgetown will bow out to the Belmont Bruins in a close one on Friday.
No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers (East)
The Wisconsin Badgers have been a terrific team defensively this season, holding teams like North Carolina and Michigan State well below their scoring averages. But the Big 10 was exceptional this year and Michigan, Ohio State and Sparty were all superior to the Badgers.
In the tournament, Wisconsin will have to play second fiddle again because they face a legitimate upset at the hands of the Montana Grizzlies.
The Montana Grizzlies have as much momentum going into the big dance as any men's team in basketball.
The Griz have won 14 straight contests and dominated in the Big Sky tournament. The team has size, speed and a decent long-range shooting game.
The game will be primarily decided by the play of 2-guards.
Will Cherry of Montana is a dual threat on offense, able to swing the ball out and drive into the lane. He has averaged 16 points per game this season. His speed is going to be a challenge for Wisconsin guard Jordan Taylor.
Taylor hasn't been as productive this year as he's been in the past, but he is still Wisconsin's scoring leader, averaging just 14.7 points per game. For Taylor to have his best game, he'll need to involve his big teammates more than ever before. Smart passing and not turning the ball over will be the adjustment he'll need to make.
If not, Montana will be heading on to face another underdog.
No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores (East)
Vanderbilt will be making an early exit again from this year's tournament after they lose to the No. 12 seed Harvard Crimson.
Last season, Vanderbilt was a No. 5 seed and dropped to Richmond who eventually went on to the Sweet 16.
And now they face an even more talented foe in Tommy Amaker's Crimson.
Harvard is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1946. Can you argue that there is a team hungrier for a win this week? I doubt it.
The Commodores are coming off of their impressive SEC Championship title win against Kentucky, but that might just do them in come Thursday. If this team feels like it has accomplished enough, it will fall quickly. They cannot be too confident.
For Harvard to advance and face the aforementioned Montana Grizzlies, Amaker's club will just need to get past the stifling defense Vanderbilt played in their win over Kentucky. The 'Dores used their 2-3 zone and it was effective. Kentucky missed its final 13 shots.
If the Crimson are able to stick to their game of feeding the ball inside to forward Kyle Casey, they will crack Vanderbilt's game plan.
And they'll send the Commodores packing along with Wisconsin and Georgetown.
Steven Conklin joined the Bleacher Report in October 2011. He is a student at the University of Central Missouri and is currently a B/R Intern. Any comments, suggestions or questions are welcomed.
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