The most exciting part of the NCAA tournament is that lower-seeded teams always have a chance to win. This year, some have a better chance than others.
Throughout the season, top teams have fallen to unranked teams at an incredible rate. This could be a preview of some early-round upsets to take place over the next few weeks.
While the higher seeds should be wary of anyone they face, the most dangerous opponents are the talented ones that underperformed during the season. These squads are loaded with talent, but will only get middling seeds in March Madness.
Still, they are certain to make a run at least to the Sweet 16 next month.
North Carolina State
Last season, North Carolina State barely reached the NCAA tournament as an 11 seed and ended up reaching the Sweet 16. It would not be surprising to see some more upsets out of the Wolfpack.
While they have some bad losses this season, they have also wins over Duke and North Carolina, plus some close losses to other good teams.
Additionally, the talent is tough to ignore. Lorenzo Brown is one of the top point guards in the country, C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell make an intimidating frontcourt, and Scott Wood can shoot the lights out.
If freshmen Rodney Purvis and T.J. Warren start playing with more consistency, this squad can beat anyone.
Latest projections have North Carolina State as an eight or nine seed. You can be certain that no top seed will be excited to see this group in the second round.
With no RPI Top 25 wins and a pair of sub-100 losses, the selection committee will likely keep Creighton as a No. 7 seed or lower. However, the Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament champions will be a force in March.
Doug McDermott is the obvious leader of this team, ranking third in the nation in scoring at 23.4 points per game. Still, there is plenty of talent on the roster that ranks second in the country in three-point shooting.
Unless this team gets cold from the outside (which is possible), the opposing team is going to have a hard time defending the offense.
Former Rutgers transfer Gregory Echenique is also a solid interior defender that will allow the Blue Jays to compete with anyone in the tournament.
Some top seed could be in trouble if it is forced to face Creighton in the first weekend.
Although UCLA is still incredibly inconsistent (a win against Arizona followed by a loss at Washington State is a perfect example), few teams are better when the Bruins are playing well.
The team is full of talented players that fill every role you need for a winning team. Larry Drew II is a skilled point guard that provides veteran leadership, Travis and David Wear take care of the interior and Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams are great defenders.
Finally, freshman Shabazz Muhammad brings it all together as one of the best pure scorers in the country.
Ben Howland has brought teams deep into the tournament in the past, and this is the most talent he has had in years. If this group plays to its potential, it can go far.