Bracketology 2013: Definitive Guide to Projected Bracket

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Bracketology 2013: Definitive Guide to Projected Bracket
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That's it, I can't wait anymore. 

One of the best parts of March Madness—you know, besides upsets, buzzer-beaters, "Onions!," back-and-forth, scintillating battles and Ed Daniel's hair—is the week leading up to the games. 

Scouring the bracket, picking out your Cinderellas, circling the best matchups and best potential matchups. The days between Selection Sunday and the first Thursday of games are just—at the risk of sounding like Bill Walton—the best days in the history of days. Ever. 

There's just one problem. Selection Sunday is still 10 long days away.

Nevertheless, with bracketology running rampant over the Internet right now, there are plenty of available brackets that we can play with to help feed the addiction for a while. 

For the sake of this exercise, we're going to use ESPN's Joe Lunardi's latest bracket, with a few of his newest updates sprinkled in. 

 

MIDWEST

Projected Bracket

Who you got out of this region?

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No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 16 Charleston Southern/Southern U

No. 8 Missouri vs. No. 9 Creighton

No. 5 UNLV vs. No. 12 La Salle/Temple

No. 4 Syracuse vs. No. 13 Bucknell

No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 11 Virginia

No. 3 Kansas State vs. No. 14 Villanova/Tennessee

No. 7 Butler vs. No. 10 Minnesota

No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 15 Niagara

 

Best Potential First-Weekend Game: No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 9 Creighton

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Goodness. I just drooled over myself quite an unhealthy amount thinking about this as a freaking second-round—er, technically third-round—matchup. It's not out of the question to think these teams could meet in the Final Four. 

What makes this potential battle so good is the scoring. Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Indiana are first in the nation in points per possession—and Creighton doesn't play much defense. The Bluejays, however, would counter with Doug McDermott, Grant Gibbs, the No. 1 true-shooting percentage in America and third-best points-per-possession average. 

First one to a million wins?

 

Upset Watch: No. 11 Virgina vs. No. 6 Oregon

Lance King/Getty Images

The Cavaliers have been riddled with inconsistency this season, but they have always brought their A-game against the nation's best, beating Duke, North Carolina, NC State and Wisconsin. 

The Ducks are a talented, balanced bunch that just importantly got point guard Dominic Artis back, but they play at very quick pace and would be bothered by Virginia's grind-it-out style.

When it comes down to it, these are two of the best defensive teams in the country, and in what would figure to be a low-scoring battle, it would be very close either way. 

 

Sneaky Final Four Pick: No. 7 Butler

The Bulldogs don't appear to be built for a Final Four run, but they've beaten Indiana and Gonzaga already, and Brad Stevens' squad is always a major threat come tournament time. 

Rotnei Clarke has the makings to be a March hero. 

 

WEST

Who you got out of this region?

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No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Norfolk State/Robert Morris

No. 8 San Diego State vs. No. 9 Cincinnati 

No. 5 Arizona vs. No. 12 Iowa State

No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 13 Valparaiso 

No. 6 VCU vs. No. 11 Colorado

No. 3 New Mexico vs. No. 14 Stephen F. Austin

No. 7 North Carolina vs. No. 10 Oklahoma

No. 2 Florida vs. No. 15 Montana

 

Best First-Weekend Game: No. 6 VCU vs. No. 11 Colorado

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

We don't even need to go to the third round to find the best matchup. 

Shaka Smart and VCU's havoc defense tends to make grown men cry, but the Buffs have some uber-talented guards in Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie and Xavier Johnson capable of handling the pressure. 

Colorado tends to slow the pace, but if VCU can speed things up, you're going to witness a lot of impressive athleticism on both sides of the court. 

 

Upset Watch: No. 14 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 3 New Mexico

USA TODAY Sports

I'm under the impression that New Mexico is going to be on upset watch against pretty much anyone it plays.

That's not to say the Lobos are overrated, but they often struggle to score the ball and win close games because of elite defense and clutch baskets down the stretch. Again, that isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just means they won't win games with ease.

Stephen F. Austin, in particular, would give the Lobos fits. The Lumberjacks are first in the nation in points allowed per possession and slow the game down more than almost any other team in America.

First to 40 wins?

 

Sneaky Final Four Pick: No. 4 Ohio State

The Buckeyes are playing some of their best basketball right now, and we know they have one of the best defenses in the nation.

When Deshaun Thomas gets some help offensively from Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott, Sam Thompson or whoever, they became incredibly tough to beat—just ask Indiana.

 

SOUTH

Who you got out of this region?

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No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Northeastern

No. 8 North Carolina State vs. No. 9 California

No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Boise State

No. 4 Oklahoma State vs. No. 13 Davidson

No. 6 Pittsburgh vs. No. 11 Belmont

No. 3 Miami vs. No. 14 South Dakota State

No. 7 UCLA vs. No. 10 St. Mary's

No. 2 Georgetown vs. No. 15 Long Beach State

 

Best Potential First-Weekend Game: No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 4 Oklahoma State

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

This is kind of a "meh" bracket in terms of dream matchups, but watching Oklahoma State's high-octane offense led by stud freshman Marcus Smart and sharpshooter/jumper-out-of-the-gym extraordinaire Markel Brown against Wisconsin's famous slow-down, defensive style would be intriguing to say the least. 

It's the unstoppable force against the immovable object. 

 

Upset Watch: No. 11 Belmont vs. No. 6 Pittsburgh

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

This isn't me not liking Pittsburgh. The Panthers have unique depth, are elite on the glass and pass the ball beautifully on the interior.

This is just me loving Belmont. 

The Bruins have one of the best backcourts in America in Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson, are dangerously efficient on offense, force a lot of turnovers on defense and have gaudy experience. No one wants to play them. 

 

Sneaky Final Four Pick: No. 3 Miami

A week ago this was probably as sneaky as an elephant walking over bubble wrap while playing a tuba, but after a rough few weeks, this is ninja-like sneaky.

No matter the recent struggles, the Hurricanes still have a super mix of inside-outside play, are solid on both sides of the ball and have unrivaled senior-leadership and experience.

If Shane Larkin and Co. are knocking down their outside shots, this team is nearly unbeatable and a very scary No. 3 seed. 

 

EAST

Who you got out of this region?

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No. 1 Duke vs. No. 16 Mercer

No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 9 Illinois

No. 5 St. Louis vs. No. 12 Akron

No. 4 Marquette vs. No. 13 Louisiana Tech

No. 6 Notre Dame vs. No. 11 Middle Tennessee State

No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 14 Stony Brook

No. 7 Colorado State vs. No. 10 Wichita State

No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Princeton

 

Best Potential First-Weekend Game: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 7 Colorado State

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

You won't find a bigger contrast of styles.

The Wolverines, led by the most dynamite point guard in the nation, are super athletic and much more effective when they can get in transition.

Colorado State, however, wins games by dominating the boards and outmuscling other teams. 

"Intriguing" doesn't even begin to describe this potential battle. 

 

Upset Watch: No. 10 Wichita State vs. No. 7 Colorado State

USA TODAY Sports

That being said, Wichita State has the tools to knock off the Rams in what would be a mini-upset.

Most importantly, the Shockers are No. 6 in the nation in rebounding percentage, and keeping Colorado State off the glass is the biggest key when playing the Rams. 

Additionally, in what would likely turn into a defensive battle, Wichita State has the most talented offensive player in Cleanthony Early to make the difference. 

 

Sneaky Final Four Pick: No. 8 Memphis

This one would take some cojones, as it's hard to know exactly which Tigers team will show up.

Memphis failed in its chances for big wins earlier this season, but it has been playing its best basketball as of late and has tremendous talent in Joe Jackson, Adonis Thomas and D.J. Stephens, who are just a few of a very deep squad. 

Don't sleep on Josh Pastner's boys.

 

 

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