NCAA Brackets: Toughest 2nd-Round Games for Top Seeds

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IMarch 18, 2013

You've heard it before, and you're about to hear it again—upset specials are on the way.

It's been an invariable part of the NCAA tournament and likely will continue to be that way for years to come—starting with 2013's March Madness on Tuesday night.

Since the bracket was released on Sunday afternoon, people have been looking at what second round (the official name for the 64-team part of the tournament thanks to the "First Four" games) matchups are dangerous for top seeds.

We won't sound the upset alarm just yet, but look closely at these three games before pushing the higher seed through to the next round. Each matchup in this tournament is tough, but these three games are really going to force these higher seeds to dig deep to avoid going home.

No. 6 UCLA vs. No. 11 Minnesota

After losing one of their best players (Jordan Adams) for the rest of the season, things were already looking ominous for the Bruins before a loss in the Pac-12 championship game to the Oregon Ducks.

While UCLA wasn't embarrassed by any stretch, it was outhustled, outworked and outclassed by the Ducks on Saturday night, leading many to believe that the offensive production from freshmen Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and point guard Larry Drew II has some serious holes.

Now, the Bruins are matched up with Minnesota, an above-average team from the Big Ten that rebounds extremely well and has talented guards (Andre and Austin Hollins) that can make plays on the offensive end.

As Dick Vitale suggests on Twitter, there's no reason to be scared of Minnesota's 8-10 conference record.

How will UCLA contend with Trevor Mbakwe and a group of talented rebounders? Oregon outrebounded the Bruins by eight on Saturday night, highlighted by Arsalan Kazemi's consistent thrashing of the glass (12 rebounds).

Look out for the Golden Gophers, UCLA. This is a tough matchup, even if Muhammad and Drew have all the offensive talent to carry this team in March.

No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 13 South Dakota State

Like UCLA, Michigan boasts plenty of talent. Led by Big Ten Player of the Year Trey Burke and two guys with NBA blood—Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III—the Wolverines can score in bunches and have the stats to prove it.

However, their biggest problem with South Dakota State will not be on offense. Stopping Nate Wolters and a talented Jackrabbits team that can score points in bunches themselves, though, will be.

Wolters averages over 22 points a game for South Dakota State, who hit the century mark in points this year against Nebraska Omaha. He and Jordan Dykstra have unfinished business from last year, too, when the Jackrabbits were dispatched by the Baylor Bears in 2012.

Motivated, experienced from that defeat and hungry to prove their conference doesn't define how good they truly are, the Jackrabbits are going to be a tough team to contend with. Of course, it all starts with Wolters, who needs to have a big game for his team to pull off an upset.

Michigan fans and players can't underestimate this team. There won't be a whole lot of defense, but Burke versus Wolters highlights a game that should be awfully fun to watch—albeit difficult for the higher seed.

No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Ole Miss

Wisconsin looked horrendous on offense against Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game, but it'll get some relief in the form of one of the worst defensive teams in the country—Ole Miss.

The Rebels also were in a conference tournament final, but they came out the victor over Florida in the SEC final. Led by Marshall Henderson, the Rebels are an interesting team come March, even if they haven't been great at stopping anyone this season.

For that to even matter, Wisconsin has to make shots.

It didn't against Ohio State, which played Wisconsin's style and ended up using athleticism on the inside to take over late. The Buckeyes limited Wisconsin to 38.3 percent shooting—a number that won't get it done because of the Badgers' methodical pace.

For starters, Wisconsin has to gear up to stop this potent offense. If Ole Miss can get into transition and find shooters like Henderson, it won't give much of chance to Wisconsin—which relies on the three-point shot in the half court entirely too much.

The contrast between offense and defense in this game is extremely unique. Defense wins championships, but Wisconsin has to score to win, too. Right now, this game is a toss-up, something you'll likely hear a lot as we get going in March Madness.

Complete 68-Team Field

East West Midwest South
1 Indiana Gonzaga Louisville Kansas
2 Miami
Ohio State
Duke Georgetown
3 Marquette
New Mexico
Michigan St.
4 Syracuse
Kansas St.
Saint Louis
Oklahoma St.
6 Butler
Memphis UCLA
7 Illinois
Notre Dame
Creighton San Diego St.
8 NC St.
Colorado St.
North Carolina
9 Temple Wichita St.
Missouri Villanova
10 Colorado Iowa State Cincinnati Oklahoma
11 Bucknell
Middle Tennesse St./
Saint Mary's
12 California
Ole Miss
13 Montana
Boise St./La Salle New Mexico State
South Dakota St.
14 Davidson
Harvard Valparaiso Northwestern St.
15 Pacific
Iona Albany
Florida Gulf Coast
(16) LIU Brooklyn/
James Madison
North Carolina A&T/
W. Kentucky

Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA Tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.

In case you missed it, here's also a look at the live tournament bracket and a printable PDF for those that want to fill it in the old-fashioned way.


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