5 Middle Seeds That Will Make Nice Runs in the NCAA Tournament

Aaron Siegal-Eisman@@ASiegalEismanFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2013

5 Middle Seeds That Will Make Nice Runs in the NCAA Tournament

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    The NCAA tournament has had some upsets that are defying the odds. Big wins like No. 14 seed Harvard beating No. 3 seed New Mexico in the West region and No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast stunning No. 2 Georgetown. 

    They don't call this tournament March Madness for nothing. Expect to see more upsets on the road to the Final Four in Atlanta.

    There certainly could be a middle seed that makes it to the Peach State with some of the favorites getting knocked out early. 

    In previous years, there has been a middle seed or two that has made it deep in the tourney. Here are five middle seeds to watch out for in the upcoming weeks:

Butler Bulldogs

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    Butler certainly isn't a Cinderella team anymore, but it could make noise in the tournament once more. The Bulldogs played very well in their first game, which they won by a score of 68-56 to No. 11 seed Bucknell in the East region.

    The reason for Butler's success against the Bison is because of its balanced scoring attack and solid rebounding effort. Four of the Bulldogs' starting five scored double-digit points in the game, including a double-double from big man Andrew Smith with 14 points and 16 rebounds.

    If Smith can continue to assert his presence inside, then Butler will be a force to be reckoned with.

    Not to mention, head coach Brad Stevens is one of the best young coaches in the country. Stevens has the ability to prepare for each and every game. Rotnei Clarke's outside shooting could be the X-factor to the Bulldogs' success this tourney. 

Arizona Wildcats

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    The Arizona Wildcats were a hot team in the first half of the regular season. The Wildcats went undefeated in nonconference play, beating teams like Florida, Miami and San Diego State. 

    This team was predicted to continue its success into Pac-12 conference play, but didn't. Arizona lost to USC, Oregon and UCLA three times. Its troubles came from not playing well on the road and lack of offensive consistency from the starting five. 

    The Wildcats started off the NCAA tournament on the right note by defeating No. 11 seed Belmont 81-64 in the West region. The main reason for the win was because of the playmaking ability of Mark Lyons, who recorded 23 points and four rebounds in the game. 

    If the Wildcats can continue to get this type of production from the Xavier transfer, then they could make a run in the tournament. 

Michigan Wolverines

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    No. 4 seed Michigan could be on its way to its first Final Four appearance in 20 years. The Wolverines won their first two tournament games by a convincing margin.  

    The first came against No. 13 seed South Dakota State by a score of 71-56. Next, the Wolverines dominated No. 5 seed VCU 78-53. Michigan's wins were due to its potent offense, which shot over 50 percent from the field in both games.

    The Wolverines are known for their excellent shooting this season. They rank ninth in the nation with a 48.4 percent. Michigan is a good shooting team because of talented players like Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas.

    If they continue to shoot over 50 percent for the rest of the tournament, then they will be a very difficult team to beat.  

St. Louis Billikens

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    This season, St. Louis had lots of success in the Atlantic-10 Conference. The Billikens won 27 games and beat opponents like Butler and VCU twice. Junior Dwayne Evans leads the team with 14 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. 

    It's a team that won't dazzle opponents like an Indiana or Duke squad, but it finds ways to win games. In the Billikens' first tourney matchup, they defeated No. 13 seed New Mexico State, 64-44. Defense was the main reason the Billikens won the game. They held the Aggies to 28 percent shooting from the field. 

    St. Louis has an excellent team this year, but it was placed in the Midwest region, which is one of the toughest regions. At some point, it will face a Louisville, Duke or Michigan State on the road to Atlanta. It's not going to be an easy path, but some Billiken magic can help them go a long way. 

Wichita State Shockers

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    No. 9 seed Wichita State is a quality mid-major squad that has experience in the Big Dance. The Shockers have made the Sweet 16 four times, including an appearance in 2006. This year, they bring a quality team that can play well in big games.

    In their first tourney game against No. 8 seed Pittsburgh, the Shockers won 73-55. This game wasn't even close because of the offensive production from Malcolm Armstead and Cleanthony Early, who combined for 43 of the 73 Wichita State points. 

    The defense did a very good job of limiting the Panthers to easy buckets and not allowing them to come back toward the end of the game. If the Shockers are going to make it past the round of 32, then they will have to beat No. 1 seed Gonzaga, which is no easy task, but it can be done.