Experience is everything come tournament time.
While freshmen superstars can carry a team during the regular season, the pressure of the tournament stage places added importance on senior leadership. Talent and execution ultimately determine a champion, but possessing experience and knowledge in key situations can be the great equalizer.
Below we'll highlight three battle-tested teams poised to make a deep run in the 2013 NCAA tournament this March.
Kansas is 10-1 over its last 11 games and won the Big 12 tournament in convincing fashion this past weekend. The Jayhawks haven't been beating up on cupcakes this season, either.
Kansas beat Ohio State on the road out of conference and knocked off Big 12 runner-up and rival Kansas State three times this year. The Jayhawks have been tested and they have responded all year long, evidenced by their 3-0 record in overtime games this season.
Bill Self's team is 6-1 against RPI Top 25 teams in 2012-13, and also possesses a great mix of young talent and experience.
Freshman Ben McLemore is leading Kansas with 16.4 points per game this season, but he's backed up by seniors Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Kevin Young.
The 'Canes came out of virtually nowhere this season, but have been tested plenty, boasting impressive wins over Michigan State, Duke and NC State (twice).
Jim Larranaga's squad is 4-2 against RPI Top 25 teams this season and will enter the NCAA tournament as ACC tournament champions.
In addition to having faced off against the nation's best, Miami boasts vital senior leadership. Two of the Hurricanes' top three leading scorers, Durand Scott and Kenny Kadji, are both seniors. Plus, leading rebounder Reggie Johnson is also in his final college season.
With Scott leading the way in the backcourt and Kadji and Johnson banging bodies in the paint, the Hurricanes will look to be dancing for a while.
Year after year, Bo Ryan gets the most out of his Wisconsin Badgers, and 2013 will be no different.
The Badgers have played 12 games against the RPI Top 25 this season, and have key wins over Indiana (twice), Ohio State, Michigan (twice) and Illinois (twice). Wisconsin's rotation also features plenty of seniors, including Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans.
Wisconsin senior forward Mike Bruesewitz is also a key piece for the Badgers. Whether he's bringing down rebounds in traffic, sacrificing his body to draw a momentum-shifting charge or just providing a calming influence late in games, his impact as one of the Badgers' battle-tested veterans cannot be overstated.
Wisconsin will be in every game it plays this March. The Badgers, who nearly won the Big Ten tournament on Sunday, play ugly and rarely play outside of their strengths.
Think you know which teams are set to make a deep run this March? Be sure to download our printable 2013 NCAA tournament bracket.
Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.
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