2013 NCAA Tournament Predictions: 10 Teams to Avoid Completely in Your Bracket
As each of the 68 teams in the 2013 NCAA tournament gets ready for what's sure to be one of the best tournaments ever, you are likely getting ready to fill out one of your many brackets in preparation for the perfect selection sheet.
We're usually tempted to fall in love with the higher seeds, but lately the upsets have taken center stage in college basketball. This season has been an unpredictable roller coaster of top teams falling on a nightly basis, making this March one of the more unpredictable tournaments of all time.
That being said, there are a few teams who haven't impressed us enough to confidently pencil into your bracket.
Whether the reason behind these teams being too risky to put deep in your bracket is road losses, a weak schedule so far or failing the ever-important "eye test," there are plenty of excuses as to why these 10 teams aren't going to go very far in March.
Granted, March Madness is usually more about guts than anything else. That being said, go with your gut when picking the teams that will move on in March. Hopefully, this article can be a guide to what your gut is feeling when filling out your bracket.
Don't be scared to put these teams through to the Round of 32 (if you dare). However, putting them past that point is dangerous indeed, based on the information this season has provided us for which teams are battle-tested for March.
There's little doubt that Missouri is going to be highly motivated coming into the tournament. Unfortunately, motivation seldom brings home tournament victories. Missouri draws Colorado State in the second round, a matchup that pits two of the best rebounding teams in the country, and the Rams will also be heavily motivated to move on as the No. 9 seed.
After being a No. 2 seed last year from the Big 12, the Tigers lost to No. 15 Norfolk State and future NBA pro Kyle O'Quinn—one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.
Holdovers from that team include star guard Phil Pressey and Laurence Bowers (although Bowers sat out with an injury in 2011-12), while newcomer and transfer Alex Oriakhi brings plenty of tournament-caliber experience from his time with Jim Calhoun and Connecticut.
When you look at Missouri's tournament resume, however, there are some significant holes that should keep it from making a deep tournament run. For starters, this team is a middle-of-the-pack seed. That means that a high seed is waiting for them in the second round, and the first-round game won't lend any breaks, either.
Getting bounced in the SEC tournament by Ole Miss also puts a damper on this squad going into the tournament, although the Rebels needed some last-second heroics to get the job done.
Combine that with a 2-8 record on the road and the Tigers' home games (6-0 at home vs. RPI Top 100) being the only time they play with the kind of passion it takes to win in March, and that could spell trouble later on in the tournament. The Tigers could be going home early yet again.
The Gaels have quietly been one of the better mid-major teams over the last few years and consistently provide opponents with a tough matchup come March.
However, this team just doesn't have the punch it needs to get over the hump.
Look no further than three losses to West Coast Conference rival Gonzaga to cement that assertion, the latest two of which were both by at least 14 points.
The Gaels do boast an impressive win over Creighton and two wins over BYU, but their strength of schedule is only 104th in the nation and they boast a 2-3 record in neutral site games.
Matthew Dellavedova leads a standout group of players for Saint Mary's, but the Gaels haven't really been tested and lost all three games to the best competition in their conference. Shy away from making them an upset pick past the Round of 32.
As a No. 11 seed with a play-in game against Middle Tennessee, don't be surprised if Saint Mary's goes home on opening night.
After an 18-2 start to the regular season, Oregon went through a rough patch before fighting back to win a share of the Pac-12 championship after beating UCLA in the tournament title game.
The Ducks lost two straight games to end the year in the somewhat weak Pac-12 and finished the regular season with a 23-8 record (prior to the conference tournament).
They deserve all the credit in the world for knocking off the Bruins on Saturday night. UCLA was also without Jordan Adams and the Ducks shot a lights-out 7-of-9 from the three-point line in the first half.
It's hard to imagine them doing the same in March.
While Oregon won at home against Arizona and on the road against UCLA, the losses are more disturbing in nature. Oregon finished the season with five wins in its final 11 games (before the Pac-12 tourney), and now has losses to Stanford, California, Utah and two to Colorado over that 11-game stretch (all unranked at the time of the loss).
Throw in a tough matchup against Oklahoma State and Marcus Smart, and things aren't looking good for Oregon to continue this run from the Pac-12 tournament. The Cowboys match up well at every position with the Ducks, right down to the big-man showdown between Philip Jurick and Arsalan Kazemi.
Let's get real—the Ducks deserved a higher seed than No. 12. But that isn't the way the selection committee worked this one out, and it forces the Ducks into a corner (the Midwest region) that won't be easy to escape from.
Oregon doesn't have the elite scorer that could change the game in its favor, and has played in a weak conference all season. That all spells trouble for the Ducks come March Madness, as should their place as a mid-seed after winning the conference tournament.
If Saint Mary's falls under the "haven't played anyone" category, then Harvard is even further down that list.
The Crimson lost to the Gaels by one point during the early part of the season but went on to have some considerable success in the Ivy League, winning the conference for the second year in a row and gaining a second straight berth in the NCAA tournament.
Don't fall in love with Harvard, whatever you do.
While the Crimson have a young core in Wesley Saunders and Siyani Chambers, they are just that—young. Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry withdrew from school in the wake of the plagiarism scandal that rocked Harvard this past year, leaving a young core that won't have much experience from last year's loss to Vanderbilt.
In any event, Harvard will likely be a team that gets thrown around as a potential bracket-buster. Don't take the bait, sports fans, especially with the Crimson opening up against a No. 3 seed in New Mexico that has No. 1-type potential.
The Zips got the MAC championship after winning the conference tournament over the weekend, but that doesn't make this a team you should trust in March.
For starters, the Zips will be without starting point guard Alex Abreu, who was arrested and suspended indefinitely for drug trafficking charges that rocked the program over the last week (via Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer).
The junior guard was averaging 10 points and six assists at the time of the suspension, and he's a big part of what makes this team go.
So is seven-footer Zeke Marshall, a player that will be counted on big time if the Zips want to get out of the second round. That's a lot of pressure for someone who isn't known as a go-to scorer—and that should scare a lot of folks away from making Akron an upset special.
So should their record against teams in the Top 100 of the RPI. Big wins include Ohio (three times) and Middle Tennessee once back in December, but since then, losses to Oklahoma State, Creighton, Buffalo and Kent State all should make you wary of any kind of tournament run.
There will be upsets this year, but don't count on Akron being one of those teams.
It's been a tale of two seasons for the Golden Bears, but the latter half of the second season is starting to look more like the first.
Riddled with poor play and inconsistencies on both ends, Cal had six losses in its first 15 games and struggled to compete against Wisconsin, Creighton and Colorado. The Bears turned things around big time in the second half, though, going on a seven-game win streak to close the season.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Cal lost to Stanford and Utah (in the Pac-12 tournament) to close the season, the latter of which is a team not in the Top 150 of college basketball's RPI. Although the Bears have shown a propensity to shine in big moments (two wins against Oregon and one against UCLA stand out), they also have poor focus against lesser opponents and haven't beaten anyone outside of their conference that's a Top 50 RPI team.
Avoid them at all costs in your bracket.
UCLA is a dangerous team based on talent, but that's about it right now for Ben Howland's team.
Led by freshmen phenoms Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad, the Bruins have the kind of talent that should make for at least one win in March. Larry Drew II is a steady contributor at point guard, and UCLA is simply too talented to not at least put up a fight in a second-round game.
However, there are some glaring issues, starting with Jordan Adams' injury—a broken foot suffered in the latest win over Arizona that will keep him out of the tournament.
The Bruins also don't rebound well enough (see their two losses to Oregon and strange ones to Washington State and California as proof) to survive against a team in March.
No. 30 right now on the RPI, the Bruins also have losses to Georgetown and San Diego State on the season.
Individual talent will give this team a chance for the first couple of rounds, but avoid them completely past the Round of 32—and they might not even get that far.
While there's no doubt that North Carolina is playing its best basketball of the season after their ACC tournament, there's still not much to suggest that UNC is ready to make a deep tournament run.
Many have been grasping for straws all season when it comes to the Tar Heels, looking for a way to prove that the early-season struggles will in fact disappear by the time March hits.
It's March, and North Carolina has two losses to Duke, three losses to Miami and losses to both Butler and Indiana. The wins (UNLV and North Carolina State) against teams inside the RPI Top 25 are not great, either, making the Heels an easy candidate to go home early this year.
Roy Williams is a good coach, and he will have this team ready to play. But if the Heels can't gain a little bit of momentum with good showings against the two teams that have knocked them off twice this year (Miami and Duke), I don't think March would be a great time to jump on the UNC bandwagon.
Not this year, anyway.
Syracuse is the ultimate tease of the college basketball elite.
Each year the Orange provide us with NBA-caliber talent, extreme athleticism, the ability to both stretch the floor from deep and run the fast break and a defense that forces teams to be extremely diligent on offense.
Unfortunately for Jim Boeheim and company, teams are more diligent than ever before against the 2-3 zone, and Syracuse's lack of size and physicality on the inside will hurt in any matchup in which it has to go up against a team that is bigger down low.
It got exposed late against Louisville in the Big East title game, and the Orange continue to shoot themselves in the foot in big moments—as evidenced by 19 total turnovers and 54 points allowed in the second half against the Cardinals.
Additionally, this isn't a 'Cuse team that has Scoop Jardine to make a big play or Kris Joseph to bail the Orange out on offense. Those responsibilities lie with Brandon Triche and James Southerland, two guys who have some major expectations to live up to during their final days as Orangemen.
I don't think Syracuse has the talent nor the experience to make a deep run this year, and the team's 3-5 record down the stretch in the Big East is enough evidence to suggest that this team is headed for an epic fall in March—even if it has the talent (Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. Fair) to do the opposite.
Kansas State and Bruce Weber are an interesting team by the eye test.
Led by Rodney McGruder and a slew of accompanying talent, the Wildcats play how they need to play in each game and still have plenty of passion sans former coach Frank Martin.
However, the Wildcats are also 1-5 against the Top 25 in the RPI rankings, with the lone win coming over Florida back in December.
Kansas State has Oklahoma and Oklahoma State's number, but losses to Michigan, Gonzaga and three to in-state rival Kansas show Kansas State's true colors.
Besides McGruder, who is going to score for this team?
Will Spradling and Angel Rodriguez are the best two bets, but the former is more of a spot-up shooter and the latter has a tendency to hold on to the ball too long during possessions before forcing up shots at the end of the shot clock.
If McGruder is struggling and there is no other help in the form of another scorer, Kansas State won't be able to compete with anyone in March. Shy away from the Wildcats, even though they are a tough, scrappy team that plays everyone close.
Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA Tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.