NCAA Tournament 2013 Bracket: Most Likely Giant Killers
The 2013 NCAA tournament is just days from commencing. With that being known, March Madness has officially begun, as fans and analysts are utilizing every tactic known to man to work their way through their respective brackets.
The question is, who are the giant killers going to be in 2013?
For those unfamiliar with the term, a giant killer is an under-the-radar team that sneaks up and upsets a powerful favorite. These teams often strike during the opening rounds and completely alter the way brackets are shaped.
So which teams are going to make the most noise in 2013?
Enter your picks for the 2013 NCAA Tournament with the B/R Bracket Challenge Game.
No. 7 Creighton Blue Jays, Midwest Region
Creighton vs. Cincinnati Preview
W-L Record: 27-7, 13-5 MVC
Key Statistic: 42.1 Team 3PT FG% (Leads NCAA D-1)
The Creighton Bluejays are one of the most efficient offensive units in the nation. That's not a hyperbolic statement, but instead a statistical fact.
Creighton leads the NCAA Division I in field-goal percentage and three-point field-goal percentage.
Furthermore, the Bluejays are 24th in points per game. They're doing this all with one key phrase which defines their team.
The Bluejays are fifth in the nation in assists per game. Grant Gibbs is averaging 5.9 dimes, while Austin Chatman is dishing out 4.3 per game to scratch the surface of that success.
If that's not enough, try a player that is posting the numbers that should make him an NCAA legend—Doug McDermott.
McDermott is currently averaging 23.1 points per game on a slash line of .561/.497/.860.
They have a superstar, a team-oriented mentality and a supreme ball movement-to-conversion rate. In other words, Creighton is a Cinderella.
A potential Round of 32 matchup against Duke could provide the platform necessary to make noise.
No. 8 North Carolina State Wolfpack, East Region
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
W-L Record: 24-10, 11-7 ACC
Key Statistic: 49.4% FG (5th)
To sum up the disparity between their level of talent and quality of production, the North Carolina State could win the NCAA tournament or be done in the Round of 32.
Assuming the Wolfpack get by Tempe in the Round of 64, they will likely be tasked with the Indiana Hoosiers in the third round. While the seedings tells us that this is a lopsided affair, it's not.
N.C. State was ranked sixth in the nation entering 2012-13.
C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell form one of the top frontcourts in the nation and could rival Indiana's Cody Zeller-led interior. Lorenzo Brown, meanwhile, has been responsible for shutting down Shane Larkin and Joe Harris in recent games.
Assuming Scott Wood can heat up from beyond the arc and T.J. Warren continues making everything he looks at, the Wolfpack will be a tough out.
All they need is one weekend of success to knock off the No. 1 seed Hoosiers. If you think they aren't talented enough, you've got another thing coming to you.
No. 8 Pittsburgh Panthers, West Region
Pittsburgh vs. Wichita State Preview
W-L Record: 24-8, 12-6 Big East
Key Statistic: 55.4 OPP PPG (6th)
If you're looking for a balanced team that can defeat any caliber opponent, the Pittsburgh Panthers fit the bill. That goes well beyond possessing a quality perimeter and a powerful interior.
Pitt ranks sixth in scoring defense, 11th in assists, 18th in field-goal percentage and 23rd in turnovers.
Beyond the numbers, the Panthers possess an elite talent at center in freshman Steven Adams. He's joined down low by team veteran Talib Zanna, thus forming a formidable interior tandem.
At the guard spots, Tray Woodall and Lamar Patterson are capable scorers and responsible ball-handlers. Freshman James Robinson can come in off the bench to facilitate, while J.J. Moore can defend and attack the basket.
Pitt seems to have the perfect formula to slay the No. 1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Round of 32.
No. 11 Belmont Bruins, West Region
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
W-L Record: 26-6, 14-2
Key Statistic: 77.2 PPG (15th)
The Belmont Bruins are one of the most powerful offensive teams in the nation. They rank in the Top 20 in the nation in scoring, field-goal percentage and three-point field-goal percentage.
Come the NCAA tournament, they could be the team that knocks out both a No. 6 seed and No. 3 seed.
Belmont is averaging 77.2 points per game, which comes with unbelievable efficiency. It's fourth in the nation in field-goal percentage at 49.4 percent and 18th in three-point field-goal percentage at 38.6 percent.
The key to its success is balance and the rise of an individual star.
Four Belmont players are scoring in double figures. Blake Jenkins is the odd man out, and he's averaging 9.7 points on 59.9 percent shooting from the floor.
In other words, Belmont can kill you with a variety of scorers. With five qualified players making at least 37.0 percent from beyond the arc, that threat is all the more real.
If that's not enough, guard Ian Clark is a bonafide star averaging 18.1 points on a slash line of .541/.463/.840—watch out powerhouses.
No. 13 South Dakota State Jackrabbits, South Region
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
W-L Record: 25-9, 13-3 Summit
Key Statistic: 39.4% 3PT (10th)
If you're wondering what the best one-on-one battle of the week will be, look no further than a No. 4 versus No. 13 battle. Michigan's Trey Burke against South Dakota State's Nate Wolters.
Burke is an absolute superstar, but he'll have his hands full with Wolters.
Wolters is a 6'4" point guard with elite shooting ability and supreme facilitating skills. For the season, he's averaging 22.7 points, 5.8 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals on a slash line of .493/.390/.810.
Just don't think for a second that he's all South Dakota State has to rely on.
Four players on the Jackrabbits have made at least 48 three-point field goals. That includes Chad White, 75 on 43.0 percent shooting, and 6'8" Lenny Dykstra, 55 on 43.0 percent.
S.D. State is also eighth in the nation in free-throw shooting percentage—in other words, this team is meant to win in March.