Spoiler Alert: 10 NCAA Basketball Teams That Will Ruin March for Others
With the college basketball regular season entering its final week, the only real unknown left for us to ponder is the conference tournaments.
In the slides ahead, we identify teams that aren't expected to make the field of 68 but could topple higher-seeded league foes and burst a bubble or two along the way.
If things break right, a couple of them might even steal an automatic bid while they're at it.
Let's meet the little dream-crushers, shall we?
Note: All statistics courtesy of KenPom.com unless otherwise noted.
Iowa, Big Ten
Record: 18-11 (7-9)
The Computer Says: 32nd-best team in the country (Ken Pomeroy)
What We Like: Roy Devyn Marble is one of the Big Ten's better slashers, and Iowa's defense is downright suffocating. Opponents shoot just 28.5 percent from three against the Hawkeyes, fifth-worst in the country. Admittedly, it's a bit dodgy to even have Iowa on this list. If Fran McCaffery's team plays well in the Big Ten tournament, it could wind up in the field of 68.
Result(s) of Note: Beat Minnesota 72-51, took Wisconsin to double-overtime in Madison.
Eastern Kentucky, Ohio Valley Conference
Record: 23-8 (12-4)
The Computer Says: 112th (Ken Pomeroy)
What We Like: Belmont and Murray State are the consensus top two in the Ohio Valley, but Eastern Kentucky isn't far behind. Glenn Cosey, Mike DiNunno and Corey Walden form a lethal backcourt trio, part of the reason why the Colonels have the nation's sixth-best two-point shooting percentage. If you're lucky, you might even get to see reserve Marcus Lewis throw down.
Result(s) of Note: Beat Murray State 77-65
Georgia Tech, ACC
Record: 15-13 (5-11)
The Computer Says: 89th (Jeff Sagarin)
What We Like: The Yellow Jackets are young and active on defense, ranking among the nation's best in effective field-goal percentage against (21st), block percentage (75th), defensive rebounding percentage (53rd) and adjusted defensive efficiency (21st). Offensively, the Yellow Jackets are a bit of a mess, but freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt (a College Park native) has flashed potential.
Result(s) of Note: Beat St. Mary's 65-56, beat Virginia 66-60, beat Maryland 78-68
Denver, Western Athletic Conference
Record: 19-8 (14-2)
The Computer Says: 41st (Ken Pomeroy)
What We Like: Louisiana Tech and its gaudy record are getting all the pub, but nearly every comprehensive computer metric says Denver is the best team in the WAC. Hiding behind those eight losses is a team that's played close with multiple foes from the Pac-12 and Mountain West, all while La. Tech has gotten fat on weaklings. Stunningly well-rounded forward Chris Udofia leads the way.
Result(s) of Note: Beat Northern Iowa 63-57, beat New Mexico State 66-60
Texas, Big 12
Record: 14-16 (6-11)
The Computer Says: 65th (Jeff Sagarin)
What We Like: Since getting sophomore star Myck Kabongo back from suspension, Texas has knocked off bubble-dwellers Iowa State, Oklahoma and Baylor. In the latter two, the Canadian combo guard scored 50 combined on 15-of-23 shooting. When Kabongo gets loose, the Longhorns can hang with anybody.
Result(s) of Note: Beat North Carolina 85-67, beat Baylor 79-70
Dayton, Atlantic 10
Record: 16-12 (6-8)
The Computer Says: 55th (BPI)
What We Like: In an interview with Grantland's Shane Ryan, La Salle coach John Giannini called Dayton "an NCAA-level team." The numbers say he isn't far off. Senior guard Kevin Dillard is one of the A-10's most dangerous scorers, and the Flyers shoot an excellent percentage from beyond. Of course, all this is predicated on Dayton making the A-10 tournament, which is no sure thing.
Result(s) of Note: Beat Alabama 81-76, beat Boston College 87-71
Providence, Big East
Record: 16-12 (8-8)
The Computer Says: 59th (Ken Pomeroy)
What We Like: After a rocky start, Ed Cooley's Friars have finally started playing up to their talent. Bryce Cotton is a superior scorer, and Vincent Council has the best assist rate in the nation. Together they form one of the Big East's best backcourts, and thanks to their work, Providence has wins in six of its past seven.
Result(s) of Note: Beat Villanova twice, beat Notre Dame 71-54
Record: 17-10 (8-8)
The Computer Says: 85th (BPI)
What We Like: Johnny Jones' Tigers don't stand out in any one area, but they're a well-rounded bunch with a penchant for playing up to the competition. Guards Anthony Hickey and Charles Carmouche lead a defense that likes to turn foes over, and sophomore Johnny O'Bryant III is capable of standout offensive performances.
Result(s) of Note: Beat Missouri 73-70, beat Alabama 97-94, lost to Marquette by four
Illinois State, Missouri Valley Conference
Record: 17-14 (8-10)
The Computer Says: 61st (Ken Pomeroy)
What We Like: Illinois State can flat-out score the basketball, and senior forward Jackie Carmichael is one of the nation's most underrated frontcourt threats (so long as he keeps his feet to himself). When he and fellow senior Tyler Brown are working in tandem, the Redbirds can be a nightmare. Valley bubble teams like Wichita State and Indiana State would do best to keep their distance.
Result(s) of Note: Beat Dayton 74-73, beat Creighton 75-72 in Omaha, lost to Louisville by three
Record: 14-15 (9-7)
The Computer Says: 79th (Ken Pomeroy)
What We Like: Since firing coach Kevin O'Neill midseason, the Trojans have looked reborn. Few teams are more stout on the low block, and USC is getting nice production out of UC-Irvine transfer Eric Wise. After taking their bumps during a brutal nonconference slate, the Trojans look primed for a solid tournament run.
Result(s) of Note: Beat Arizona 89-78, beat UCLA 75-71, beat Arizona State 57-56