2013 Bracketology: Fresh Field of 68 Projection
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In early April, a plethora of premature 2013 bracket predictions were released throughout the web, but now the anticipated time has arrived when serious projections can be compiled.
Few significant transfers and recruits are remaining on the market, meaning most 2012-'13 rosters are filled and complete.
So, without further ado, here is the fresh field of 68 projection for the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Note: Conference champions are italicized.
Midwest Region: Upper Half
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No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 16 Southern/Coastal Carolina
The Hoosiers are my top overall seed, bringing back Naismith Award candidate Cody Zeller and reputable sidekick Christian Watford. Jordan Hulls, Will Sheehey, and Yogi Ferrell strengthen a battle-tested backcourt.
Derick Beltran will be a SWAC POY contender for Southern, pushing the Jaguars a hair over reigning conference champions Mississippi Valley State to snag the automatic berth.
Anthony Raffa of Coastal Carolina is one of the most prolific mid-major scorers, giving Coastal Carolina the Big South berth.
No. 8 Miami (FL) vs. No. 9 Stanford
Reggie Johnson weighs in at a near-300 pounds and will be a torturing force in the lane for the Canes. Point guard Shane Larkin possesses superstar potential.
The Cardinal are ready to emerge back into the national spotlight, led by returning team leading scorer Chasson Randle.
No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Colorado State
Even when it seems like Bo Ryan has zero star power on his roster, the Badgers will always plug themselves into the national conversation. Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren bolster a solid frontcourt.
Ex-Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy inherits an experienced pool of talent and should have the Rams squabbling towards the upper tier of a very underrated MWC.
No. 4 Memphis vs. No. 13 Detroit
Memphis' Adonis Thomas, a former top-10 recruit, was sidelined for close to the entirety of 2011-'12 due to injury. He returns to the Tigers, teaming with potential-laden forward Tarik Black.
Eli Holman is an enormous loss for my Horizon league champion Detroit, but Ray McCallum Sr. and Ray McCallum Jr. will present themselves as the next father-son powerhouse, following the McDermotts of Creighton.
Midwest Region: Lower Half
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No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 New Mexico
Texas' Myck Kabongo, a stellar point guard from Canada, will benefit from the departure of shot-happy J'Covan Brown. Rick Barnes has also hauled in a top-five recruiting class, led by bulky center Cameron Ridley.
Tony Snell has the potential to be a bigger contributor for New Mexico than Drew Gordon was last year. Steve Alford has a serious MWC challenger with the Lobos.
No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 14 Princeton
Ohio State had a bevy of underused talent buried on their bench last season. Shot blocker Amir Williams is a terrific replacement for Jared Sullinger. Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas are already household names due in large part to their remarkable Final Four journey last season.
Harvard should keep a stern lookout on Princeton, winners of the Ivy two seasons removed. Ian Hummer is an elite forward in the Ivy League.
No. 7 Kansas State vs. No. 10 Ohio
New Kansas State headman Bruce Weber will gush over coaching pure scorer Rodney McGruder. He and Jordan Henriquez, arguably the nation's premier offensive rebounder, make the Cats a deep sleeper in the Big 12.
D.J. Cooper has done it as a freshman and as a junior and is beyond ready for a third NCAA tournament run as a senior. Ohio will glide through the MAC with Cooper at the helm, despite the loss of coach John Groce.
No. 2 NC State vs. No. 15 LIU-Brooklyn
Change is eerily brewing atop the ACC. NC State returns two of the ACC's top playmakers in CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown. Mix that combination with three incoming McDonald's All Americans, and your result is an abnormally high seed for the Wolfpack.
The Blackbirds of Long Island gave Michigan State a fight in last season's NCAA tournament. Jason Brickman is a seasoned court general with elite distributing capabilities.
East Region: Upper Half
Peyton Siva and Louisville
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Np. 1 Louisville vs. No. 16 Savannah State
The Cardinals return a strong nucleus of Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng, and Chane Behanan from a 2012 Final Four squad. Wayne Blackshear, Mike Marra, and Rakeem Buckles are all now healthy.
Savannah State returns every single player from a team with a winning record in 2011-12. The Tigers are in good position to win the MEAC.
No. 8 Tennessee vs. No. 9 Pittsburgh
Jarnell Stokes and Trae Golden of Tennessee will surprise people as one of the nation's top guard-forward combos.
Pittsburgh will bounce back from a dismal 2011-12 season with a healthy Tray Woodall and the additions of Steven Adams and James Robinson.
No. 5 Duke vs. No. 12 Xavier/Colorado
Despite losing Austin Rivers, Duke has solidity and depth in their backcourt with Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, Rasheed Sulaimon, Tyler Thornton, and Quinn Cook. Mason Plumlee will be one of the top ACC big men.
Xavier loses a significant amount of production in Tu Holloway, Kenny Frease and Mark Lyons (transfer), but Dez Wells will be a breakout star for the Musketeers.
Colorado returns arguably the nation's top rebounder in Andre Roberson. Size and physicality will make up for the loss of Carlon Brown
No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 13 South Dakota State
Ben Howland brings in a quartet of stud diaper dandies with Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker and Jordan Adams to team with burly center Joshua Smith.
Nate Wolters of South Dakota State is arguably the most prolific scorer in the entire nation, averaging over 21 points per contest last season as a junior.
East Region: Lower Half
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No. 6 Minnesota vs. No. 11 Murray State
Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe, who missed nearly all of last season due to an ACL tear, could be the most proficient back-to-the-basket power forward in the land. Rodney Williams is an NBA-type athlete.
The Naismith Watch could potentially cast a spotlight on Murray, Kentucky. Isaiah Canaan is the most exciting guard in the nation, and is a National POY candidate.
No. 3 San Diego State vs. No. 14 Montana
San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley might be the most dynamic duo of guards in the nation, regardless of conference. The Aztecs and UNLV will fight punch for punch at the MWC summit.
Montana walloped Damian Lillard and Weber State to advance to the NCAA tournament last season. The Grizzlies return deadly long-bomber Kareem Jamar and nifty distributor Will Cherry.
No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 10 Massachusetts
Missouri will be transfixed on avenging their premature exit in last season's tournament. Former national champion Alex Oriakhi transfers in to join a talented guard tandem of Phil Pressey and Michael Dixon.
UMass is my bold selection to win the A-10, even with the strong additions of VCU and Butler. Chaz Williams is the nation's most underappreciated court general.
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Mercer
The Wolverines flaunt a stacked recruiting class to pair alongside a star-studded duo of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Freshman Nik Stauskas will help aid the lack of three-point shooting created by the absences of Zack Novak and Evan Smotrycz.
Belmont is seemingly a staple atop the A-Sun, but Mercer is loaded with guard depth and outside shooting.
South Region: Upper Half
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No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 16 Cal State Fullerton/Texas-Arlington
Kentucky reloads with a fourth consecutive top-tier recruiting class, headlined by elite swatter Nerlens Noel. Transfers Ryan Harrow and Julius Mays will enhance a depleted backcourt.
Departures of Long Beach State's Casper Ware and Larry Anderson and UC Santa Barbara's Orlando Johnson open the door for Cal State Fullerton to capture the Big West.
Texas Arlington will be bitter for revenge after narrowly missing out on last season's NCAA tournament. The Mavericks concluded 2011-'12 with just one conference blemish.
No. 8 Virginia Commonwealth vs. No. 9 St. Mary's
VCU's transition to the A-10 will only improve their seeding. The Rams bring back physical power forward Juvonte Reddic. Incoming recruit Jordan Burgess is an ideal substitute for graduated brother Bradford Burgess.
St. Mary's takes a hit with the loss of elite rebounder Rob Jones. Nonetheless, point guard Matthew Dellavedova has supreme court vision and is an admirable leader on the floor.
No. 5 Gonzaga vs. No. 12 South Florida
Gonzaga is primed for a 15th consecutive tournament appearance. Gary Bell and Kevin Pangos provide commendable backcourt talent. Elias Harris is an NBA specimen, while center Sam Dower is the best big man you've never heard of.
Stan Heath has South Florida churning in the right direction. Victor Ruud Jr. withdrew from the NBA draft, giving the Bulls a true go-to guy. Anthony Collins will be superb as a sophomore point guard.
No. 4 North Carolina vs. No. 13 Davidson/Oklahoma State
Replacing four lottery picks in one season is impossible, but North Carolina can start with James McAdoo. He and Reggie Bullock will both substantially benefit from increased minutes.
Davidson's De'Mon Brooks will tear up the Southern Conference with rebounding and physicality. Jake Cohen and Nik Cochran are nice role pieces as well.
Oklahoma State boasts a tandem of recent McDonald's All Americans in LeBryan Nash and Marcus Smart. Markel Brown's emphatic throwdowns make him a staple on SportsCenter's Top 10.
South Region: Lower Half
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No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 11 Maryland
Creighton's Doug McDermott, an old-school type scorer, will be on Naismith Watch all season long. Former Rutgers center Gregory Echenique is sculpted like a body-builder and will be an unstoppable force in the Missouri Valley.
Losing ACC scoring champion Terrell Stoglin may benefit Maryland's tournament hopes, as significantly more shots will be available to go around. Alex Len, a 7'1" athlete, will develop into an upper-echelon center in the ACC.
No. 3 UNLV vs. No. 14 Middle Tennessee
When UNLV receives Khem Birch back from suspension, the Rebels will be dominant in the low post. Anthony Bennett and Katin Reinhardt highlight a talented recruiting class that will join double-double machine Mike Moser.
Middle Tennessee has no match in the Sun Belt. The Raiders return four starters from a 25-6 effort last season.
No. 7 Cincinnati vs. No. 10 Drexel
Cincinnati would most likely jump a seed if Chris Obekpa chooses the Bearcats. Nonetheless, elusive guards Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright can explode for 40 combined points on any night.
With Old Dominion and VCU bolting from the CAA, Drexel should steamroll right through the conference with ease. Frantz Massenat is a do-it-all combo guard who can rack up points in a hurry.
No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 15 Iona
Two sparsely used Baylor forwards, Deuco Bello and Cory Jefferson, are athletically gifted playmakers who will make the most out of increased minutes. Pierre Jackson might be the nation's top scoring point guard.
Loads of talent will shuffle out New Rochelle this fall, but the player that will spark Iona's MAAC run is Lamont "Momo" Jones. The former Arizona guard attacks the basket unlike anyone in his conference.
West Region: Upper Half
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No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Vermont
Kansas' tandem of high-flier Elijah Johnson and shot-blocker Jeff Withey could potentially surpass the production of Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor last season. Ben McLemore, a redshirt freshman, turns an sub-par recruiting class into an effective one.
Sophomore Four McGlynn is the driving force behind a solid Vermont team poised to take home the America East title.
No. 8 Marquette vs. No. 9 Saint Joseph's
Ex-Arizona State slasher Trent Lockett heads to Marquette to provide much-needed star power. The Golden Eagles' success relies on Junior Cadougan's ability to protect the basketball.
Saint Joseph's power forward CJ Aiken has 2013 lottery pick attributes. Undersized point guard Carl Jones will be a nightmare for the rest of the A-10.
No. 5 Florida vs. No. 12 Georgetown
Brad Beal's exit is detrimental for the Gators, but Billy Donovan showcases tremendous returnees. Patric Young is a poor man's Dwight Howard. Former McDonald's All Americans Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario are deadly beyond the arc.
Otto Porter solidifies Georgetown's return to the dance, but their seed takes a massive hit with absences of Jason Clark, Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims.
No. 4 Arizona vs. No. 13 Alabama
'Zona jumps from the NIT to a four-seed due to a consensus top-three recruiting class, led by legitimate seven-footer Kaleb Tarczewski. Nick Johnson and Xavier transfer Mark Lyons are imperative assets in the backcourt.
Explosive young guards Trevor Releford and Trevor Lacey just barely get Alabama into the field. Losses of suspended Tony Mitchell and graduated JaMychal Green present glaring red flags in the frontcourt.
West Region: Lower Half
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No. 6 Notre Dame vs. No. 11 Butler
Notre Dame's Jack Cooley transformed from bench-rider into Big East POY contender last season. Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant anchor a rock-solid backcourt.
Butler's glory days may have come to an unfortunate close, but Brad Stevens has reeled in former Arkansas standout Rotnei Clarke. The six-foot point guard will make Butler's journey to the A-10 less rocky.
No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 14 New Mexico State
Similar to North Carolina, Syracuse can't fully replace their four top contributors. They can fulfill their duties with unseasoned but skilled prospects, though. Michael Carter-Williams and James Southerland will benefit from an enormous increase in playing time.
With an underrated Nevada program headed to the Mountain West, New Mexico State will be able to capture a consecutive WAC title.
No. 7 Saint Louis vs. No. 10 Florida State
Brian Conklin's graduation will create a hole for Rick Majerus' squad, but Saint Louis will still headline a rejuvenated A-10 conference. Kwamain Mitchell is a speedy threat from anywhere on the floor.
Florida State's seeding undergoes a severe blow due to five important senior losses, but Michael Snaer and Ian Miller are both elite perimeter playmakers.
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 15 Lehigh
Finding an alternate source of production following Draymond Green's departure will be arduous task, but Tom Izzo will have Michigan State re-energized. Keith Appling is as exciting as they come.
Lehigh won't be knocked off their Patriot League throne as long as CJ McCollum, the league's top scorer, is back.
Last Four In, First Four Out
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