Bracketology: Analyzing Hottest March Madness Contenders After Week 13

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2013

Bracketology: Analyzing Hottest March Madness Contenders After Week 13

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    Finally, the best teams in college basketball are starting to play like it.

    This makes it much easier to figure out which squads will be playing in the NCAA tournament and which will be ending the year early.

    A few programs had huge weeks that featured big-time wins, while others are simply continuing a long run of solid play. Either way, it gets them closer to the ultimate goal of being a part of March Madness.

    These teams likely impressed the selection committee the most with big weeks starting on Jan. 28. 

Florida

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    Results: Win vs. South Carolina, 75-36; Win vs. No. 16 Ole Miss, 78-64

     

    Florida is simply in a class by itself in the SEC.

    The best football conference in the country has few contenders when it comes to basketball.

    Ole Miss looked good at one point but could not stay competitive with either Florida or Kentucky. While the Wildcats are playing well now, the young team is incredibly inconsistent.

    The Gators are currently 8-0 in the conference, and it would be a disappointment if they lost more than two more games the rest of the regular season. 

    Even without any really good wins, Florida could be in line for a No. 1 seed based on record alone. 

Pittsburgh

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    Results: Loss at No. 12 Louisville, 64-61; Win vs. No. 6 Syracuse, 65-55

     

    Even with a loss, Pittsburgh had a big week.

    The Panthers were competitive with Louisville on the road and could have won with a few better bounces. They were then able to handle Syracuse defensively and ended up leaving with a high-quality win.

    Although there are still some quality teams at the top, the Big East is very jumbled at this point, with no one really stepping up.

    However, Pittsburgh showed that it can play with the top teams in the conference. This is really what the selection committee wants to see before the end of the year.

    If this squad continues to win the games it should, it will be dancing in March. 

Ohio State

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    Results: Win vs. Wisconsin, 58-49; Win at Nebraska, 63-56

     

    While the focus has been on the two teams on top of the Big Ten standings, Ohio State is quietly sticking around in the race for a conference title.

    Deshaun Thomas played all 80 minutes this week and has been extremely impressive all year. He has become the leader for this squad and has the ability to carry it deep into the postseason.

    However, this week will be a huge test. The Buckeyes travel to Michigan and then host Indiana at home.

    By taking care of business against the weaker teams this week, Ohio State has some margin for error. Winning one of two would be more than enough to call it successful part of the schedule.

    It would also go a long way toward securing a top-three seed.

Miami (FL)

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    Results: Win at Virginia Tech, 74-64; Win at No. 19 North Carolina State, 79-78

     

    Although Miami was discussed last week as one of the hotter teams in the country, the Hurricanes continue to impress. 

    After thoroughly embarrassing both Duke and Florida State and home, the team proved it can win on the road with victories over Virginia Tech and North Carolina State.

    Miami has won slow, ugly games and now it has won fast-paced offensive shootouts. In two weeks, this group went from a nice story to a legitimate contender.

    By dominating the ACC, the selection committee can start to forget about the poor losses at the beginning of the year and focus on the current squad, which has been dominant.

    At this pace, the Hurricanes will have a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament. 

Oklahoma State

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    Results: Win vs. Iowa State, 78-76; Win at No. 2 Kansas, 85-80

     

    Someone had to step up in the Big 12, and Oklahoma State did that in a big way this week. 

    The Cowboys went into Kansas and ended the squad's 33-game home winning streak with an 85-80 victory over the No. 2 team in the country.

    They did not do anything spectacular in the win that could not be replicated for the rest of the season, so hopefully this fuels them to bigger things down the line.

    After a 2-3 start to the conference season, Oklahoma State has now won three straight games. The team is firmly in the tournament for now, but it cannot afford more bad losses.

    Consistency will go a long way toward helping this squad stay in the field.

St. Louis

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    Results: Win vs. No. 9 Butler, 75-58; Win vs. Dayton, 81-52

     

    Although the Atlantic 10 does not get a lot of respect, there are a lot of very good teams in the conference.

    One of those teams is Saint Louis, who knocked off Butler this week in impressive fashion.

    The Billikens also have a good win over New Mexico from earlier in the year.

    Despite the fact that their leading scorer only averages 11.1 points per game, everyone on the roster plays very good defense and they keep games low-scoring. 

    If they can get one or two more big wins against teams like VCU or in the second game against Butler, this could be one of four or five teams from the conference that reaches the NCAA tournament. 

Indiana

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    Results: Win at Purdue, 97-60; Win vs. No. 1 Michigan, 81-73

     

    Even though the home win over Michigan could barely be described as an upset, Indiana took care of business.

    Although the loss to Butler does not look as bad as it did earlier in the year, some of the wins (North Carolina and Minnesota) lost value.

    The Hoosiers had a lot to prove on Saturday, and they showed what they were made of.

    Unless there is a significant injury, Indiana will be a contender for a national title. However, the team would like to get a No. 1 seed.

    Considering the depth of the Big Ten, winning either the regular season or conference tournament title should get the prestigious spot in March. 

     

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