March Madness 2013: Bubble Teams with Best Chance at Making Deep Tourney Run

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2013

Mar 06, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Villanova Wildcats forwards Patrick Farrell (left) Maurice Sutton (25) Mouphtaou Yarou (13) and Aaron Bowen (behind) celebrate after defeating the Georgetown Hoyas at the Wells Fargo Center. Villanova defeated Georgetown 67-57. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

While we don't yet know which bubble teams will sneak into the NCAA tournament and which teams will be snubbed, it's not to early to predict which teams are capable of making a run in the tourney.

So what do you look for when compiling a potential Cinderella? Obviously, quality wins is the first criteria. But personally, I also like to see a team that either has a slew of quality wins or one that is dangerous in a particular facet of the game, such as three-point shooting or defense.

With that in mind, I've compiled three teams I think will be very dangerous in March, assuming they get into the tournament (which they should). Let's break down these bubble-team sleepers.


Boise State

You may think blue turf and the football team when Boise State comes to mind, but the truth is the basketball team has the chance to make some noise should it be included in the NCAA tournament. 

Boise State has four wins over RPI top-50 schools (Creighton, UNLV, Colorado State and San Diego State), only lost to Michigan State by four points when the teams met in November and has tight losses against New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State. 

Another reason to watch out for Boise State is that the team is dangerous from outside of the three-point arc, shooting 39.3 percent on such shots this season (14th-best in the nation).

The Mountain West is very strong this year, and Boise State could further prove that fact with a long tourney run. They have the look of a 12-seed that will win a few games and shake up the tournament.



The Wildcats have proven to be giant killers this season, beating five top-50 RPI teams (Louisville, Syracuse, UConn, Marquette and Georgetown). Three of those teams (Syracuse, Louisville and Georgetown) were ranked in the top five when those games were played.

There's more. Villanova has overtime losses to top-50 RPI teams La Salle and Pittsburgh, and only lost by five against Notre Dame. In all, the Wildcats are 5-7 against RPI top-50 squads and 10-8 in the Big East this season.

Oh, and they've played the 18th-toughest schedule in college basketball, so they're battle-tested. Barring a blowout loss in the Big East tournament—and even then, the Wildcats resume should be strong enough—Villanova should make some serious noise in the Tourney. 


Iowa State

Do not sleep on the Cyclones—this team can flat out score the rock.

Iowa State is fourth in the nation in points per game (80.1), 14th in assists per game (16.1), 19th in rebounds per game (38.9) and shoots 37.7 percent from three (tied for 37th in the nation). 

The Cyclones aren't just good on paper, however. With wins over Kansas State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State the team is covered in the quality wins department (and nearly beat Oklahoma State the first time they played, losing 78-76, and lost to Kansas twice in overtime).

Some people may want to see if the Cyclones can improve their 3-7 record against top-50 RPI teams when the Big 12 tournament commences this week, but make no mistake about it—Iowa State is dangerous. 

The Cyclones are going to open a few eyes this March.


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