NIT Bracket 2013: Predicting Tournament's Most Dangerous Teams

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIMarch 18, 2013

LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 09:  John Calipari the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats gives instructions to his team during the game against the Auburn Tigers at Rupp Arena on February 9, 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

While March Madness is officially underway, so too is the often overlooked 2013 NIT. It may not offer as many game's as the NCAA bracket, but it's filled with just as much drama and plenty of exciting upsets.

This year's NIT has a slew of great teams to watch, from SEC powerhouse Kentucky to last year's champion Stanford.

Taking a look to the field, here's a breakdown of some of the most dangerous teams in this year's NIT bracket.

If you're unfamiliar with the NIT, here's this year's bracket from the



It's not often you see Kentucky outside of the NCAA tournament, but that's just how 2013 has gone for the Wildcats.

Despite going 12-6 in conference play, a 64-48 blowout loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC conference tournament was the final straw for John Calipari's NCAA hopes. Now he'll have to try his hand at the NIT.

Despite playing without star freshman forward Nerlens Noel—who's recovering from recent knee surgery—Kentucky is still one of the most dangerous teams in the field and well deserving of the NIT's top seed.

Picking up the slack since Noel's absence has been guard Archie Goodwin. The freshman's been on fire in March, averaging 15.5 points per game while accumulating 20 rebounds and seven steals.

The Wildcats will have an easy path to the finals but could see some bumps in the road in the quarterfinals. Their branch of the tournament includes underrated Arizona State and the always-dangerous Baylor.

With high-octane freshman energy, the experience of coach Calipari and home court advantage throughout the tournament, Kentucky remains one of the most dangerous teams in the NIT.


Arizona State

While a slew of Pac-12 teams have made the cut for this year's NCAA tournament, Arizona State will not be one of them.

But if underestimated, the Sun Devils could beat any team in this year's NIT.

ASU has one of the most efficient offenses in the Pac-12, shooting a conference-leading 45.7 percent from the field. They average 71 points a game.

That scoring attack is led by freshman guard Jahii Carson, who averages 18.3 points a game (third-best average in the Pac-12) on 47.1 percent shooting.

Defensively, the Sun Devils aren't always the most consistent, but they're tough. Leading the way is center Jordan Bachynski. The 7'2" junior averages a ridiculous 3.5 blocks a game.

With regular season wins over NCAA contenders Colorado (twice), UCLA and Cal, Arizona State is a team to be reckoned with in this year's NIT.



Look out, here come the Terrapins.

Playing in the ACC power conference, Maryland went 22-12 in the regular season but just 8-10 in conference, dropping them to NIT status.

Still, the Terrapins should not be underestimated. They're getting hot at the right time and dominated the ACC conference tournament.

In its two conference tourney wins, Maryland outscored its opponents 158-136. That includes a 83-74 beat down of Duke. Even though it lost in the semis, Maryland sure gave UNC a run for its money.

The Terrapins had the ACC's fourth-best offense this season, averaging 71.2 points per game.

Leading that offense is the electric Dez Wells. The sophomore guard/forward averages 13.1 points a game while shooting 52.8 percent from the field. He's averaging 19.8 points a game in March.

Maryland's late season push may not have been enough to get it into the NCAA tournament, but it remains a huge threat in this year's NIT.



Finally, we get to Stanford. NIT champions in 2012, the Cardinal once again turn their attention towards tournament supremacy in 2013.

This year's team retains much of the experience from last year's, sporting nine upperclassman.

Leading Stanford is junior Dwight Powell, who is averaging 15.4 points a game. The forward knows how to shoot, hitting 48.1 percent of his shots from the field and 46.9 from beyond the arc.

Powell is also second on the team in rebounds (8.2) and blocks (1.1) per game.

First in those categories is another junior, forward Josh Huestis, who has been a defensive force for Stanford all year. He has 12 blocked shots just in the month of March and is averaging 2.1 a game.

Defensively, the Cardinal are a great rebounding team, and though they may not be the most efficient on offense, they were the Pac-12's fourth-best three-point shooting team (35.8 percent).

Though they enter the NIT a No. 4 seed, Stanford is a threat to any team they play. After last year's tourney win, the Cardinal have all the makings of a team looking to make it two in a row.

While we all love the NIT, March Madness deserves some attention too.

If you're hoping to follows this year's NCAA tourney, don't forget your printable—as well as live—brackets.

Also make sure to enter your 2013 March Madness picks with the Bracket Challenge Game.