March Madness 2013: Forecasting Teams That Will Fall Early in NCAA Tournament

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2013

Jan 30, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Miami Hurricanes guard Trey McKinney Jones (4) guard Shane Larkin (0) and center Reggie Johnson (42) during the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

As we have seen almost every year, the higher seed does not always survive the first weekend in the NCAA tournament.

Watching small schools overcome the odds and upset the top teams in the country is why we watch March Madness. However, just because something is an upset, it does not mean it was a total shock.

Last season, two No. 2 seeds lost in the first round. Missouri struggled at rebounding, and Duke was known to get cold at the three-point line, especially without Ryan Kelly. While losing in the first round was a surprise, fans should have known not to pick them to go deep.

The same rings true in this season. These schools will likely be a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament, but they will likely lose before the Sweet 16.



There are few top teams fading faster than Syracuse at this point of the year. After being ranked in the Top Five for much of the year and contending for a No. 1 seed, the Orange would be lucky to be on the fourth line.

They have lost six of the last 10 games and are no longer in contention for the Big East title.

While the 2-3 zone will still give opponents trouble, the offense is very inconsistent. The main problem is that the backcourt of Michael Carter-Williams takes too many shots and misses most of them. Combined, they are shooting .399 from the floor and .285 from behind the arc.

This is not good enough to beat any team with a solid defense. Also, any team with a decent rebounder will be able to get plenty of second-chance opportunities with offensive boards.

Head coach Jim Boeheim has lost in the first round with better teams than this. The trend will continue as the recent slide carries over into March. 


New Mexico

Throughout the season, New Mexico has quietly been one of the best teams in the country. The 25-4 record has helped reach No. 2 in the RPI rankings.

In addition, the team has already clinched the underrated Mountain West Conference.

Unfortunately, their style of play could lead to problems in the tournament. The strong defensive team has trouble scoring at times and is full of inconsistent players.

Leading scorer Kendall Williams scored 46 points on 10-of-13 from three-point range in a win over Colorado State, but was held to single-digits in the next two games while missing all six of his shots from deep.

Sometimes the rest of the team picks up the slack, and other times the offense struggles, like in the 55-34 loss to San Diego State.

The offense ranks 87th in efficiency, according to KenPom, and it is not trustworthy enough in the tournament. 


Miami (FL)

Miami has been one of the feel-good stories of the 2012-13 season. The team was expected to do very little on the season and is now in contention to win an ACC regular season title and possibly get a No. 1 seed.

Even with the recent loss at Duke, the Hurricanes still have a win over Michigan State, a home slaughter of Duke and a season sweep of North Carolina. 

However, they also have losses to Indiana State, Wake Forest and Florida Gulf Coast.

This shows not only a lack of focus, but a lack of experience in this position. Although there are veteran people on the roster, none of them have been on a top team that others try to beat. No player has any NCAA tournament experience.

We have no idea how this team will react to a big moment. If the Hurricanes do not come prepared right out of the gate, they could be facing a huge upset early.


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