NCAA Tournament Picks 2013: Projecting Bracket-Busters Prior to Seedings Release

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2013

November 25, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA;  California Golden Bears head coach Mike Montgomery reacts during the second half of the championship game of the Directv Classic against the Pacific Tigers at the Anaheim Convention Center. California won 78-58. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Every NCAA tournament has bracket-busters. It happens every year.

From No. 15 seed Lehigh taking down No. 2 seed Duke in the round of 64 last year to George Mason wreaking havoc in 2006, the tournament has a long history of under-the-radar squads that come out of nowhere to take out seemingly better teams and sometimes enjoy long tournament runs.

This year is no exception.

Some teams projected (h/t ESPN's Joe Lunardi) to be in the tournament may not seem like ones that can make some noise, but trust me, they can. They are incredibly deep and dominant in their own way, and if higher seeds aren't prepared accordingly, then the tourney could have some very nice upset specials brewing long before the seedings are released.


St. Mary's

The West Coast Conference is not a competitive conference by any means, but the St. Mary's Gaels managed to play well anyway. The team went 27-6 on the year and 14-2 in conference play, although it did not have any signature wins.

Just the same, the Gaels ranked 23rd in scoring, 66th in rebounding and 22nd in field-goal percentage.

Moreover, St. Mary's has a history with the tournament. In 2010, it entered as a No. 10 seed and defeated No. 2 Villanova to reach the Sweet 16, where it ended up losing to Baylor.

Led by senior point guard Matthew Dellavedova, this year's team plays strong defense and can score in a variety of ways. 

The Gaels may not seem like a team that can make a lot of noise, but just watch. Depending on their draw, they could easily surprise some teams from better conferences and go on another tourney run.



As we saw with Lehigh last year, the Patriot League should not be counted out in terms of basketball. Such is the case with Bucknell this year.

The Bison ran the table from start to finish, going 28-5 overall and 12-2 in conference play. They didn't have any signature wins but have an excellent go-to guy in 6'11" senior Mike Muscala.

Muscala averaged 19 points and 11.2 rebounds per game while shooting 52 percent from the field this season. He was also an excellent leader for his team. If anyone can lead Bucknell to a victory, it's him.

Bucknell also has a history of upsets on its side. In 2005, No. 14 Bucknell upset No. 3 Kansas in the opening round. It's been nearly a decade since then, but that does not take away from the fact that the Bison can muster the collective strength to pull off another key victory and shock the nation once again.



The Pac-12 featured some deep squads this season, and California was one of them. The Golden Bears only went 20-11 on the year and 12-6 in conference play but have signature wins that make them impossible to ignore in the tournament.

Not only did California defeat Pac-12 champion Oregon twice, on Feb. 2 and Feb. 23, but it also beat Arizona on Feb. 12.

This team may not seem like much, but an excellent scorer in Allen Crabbe (18.7 PPG) and a solid rebounder in David Kravish (6.9 RPG) make the Golden Bears a team to watch.

A lot of their bracket-busting potential depends on their draw, but their ability to play giant slayer this season and their overall talent make them a squad that could make some noise in this year's tourney.


Remember to download a printable NCAA bracket and to watch Selection Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.