The madness of March is upon the college basketball community. There is much excitement surrounding the start of the 2013 NCAA tournament and the bracket (print yours here) has casual and hardcore fans alike ready to make their selections.
Before you make your picks, be wary of teams destined to buck recent trends. These could potentially ruin your bracket.
Whether underestimated or overestimated, the following programs will not perform as expected and could potentially ruin your chances at March Madness bracket supremacy.
The UCLA Bruins (25-9) were setting the stage for an excellent run in the NCAA tournament. However, after losing star shooting guard Jordan Adams to a broken foot in the Pac-12 tourney (h/t ESPN), almost all hopes of national glory have been dashed.
UCLA plays Minnesota (20-12) in the second round, and while the Bruins still have the stellar play of freshman Shabazz Muhammad, the underrated Golden Gophers will stun the favorites and send the team home early.
While you are picking your bracket, be sure to find UCLA in the South Region and avoid them at all costs. Even if the Bruins make it past Minnesota in the second round, the team will likely lose to Florida in the third round anyway.
When casual fans think of college basketball, the New Mexico Lobos are typically not the first team that comes to mind. However, at 29-5 on the season and seeded on the three-line in the West Region, the Lobos have been set up for success.
It wouldn't be wise to underestimate New Mexico, not only because the team has depth and size across the entire lineup (watch for 7’0” sophomore Alex Kirk), but because New Mexico's route to the Elite Eight is arguably the easiest on the bracket.
After taking on Harvard in the second round, the Lobos will face the winner of Belmont vs. Arizona and then likely Notre Dame or Ohio State in the Sweet 16. As long as leading scorer Kendall Williams plays consistently, there is no doubt New Mexico could possibly make a run to the Final Four.
Don’t pick against them.
Ohio State has been a perennial powerhouse in college basketball under head coach Thad Matta, but this year’s group of players has a real chance to be a flop and get eliminated early in the tournament.
As much as the Buckeyes logo and their 26-7 record will have the bracketeers falling over themselves trying to pick Ohio State to make a deep run, the schedule will not be kind to the grey and scarlet.
Whether it’s Iona with the upset in the second round or Notre Dame in the third round, teams understand that the key to stopping the Buckeyes is putting a lid on leading scorer Deshaun Thomas.
With Thomas neutralized, lack of depth will result in a tough loss and Ohio State will ruin your bracket. Don’t be victim.
Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.