2013 March Madness is just around the corner, meaning it's time to get those brackets going. And while No. 1 seeds get all the attention, never underestimate the value of a strong No. 2.
This year's group of No. 2s is particularly diverse, from the scoring arsenal of Duke to the brick wall defense of Georgetown.
Any of these teams have a chance to steal their regions, but it's that slight difference from No. 1 to No. 2 that makes them constantly overlooked.
Hoping to help you get a leg up on the competition, here's a ranking of each region's No. 2 seeded team, with breakdowns on what to expect in this year's tournament.
Make your picks for this year's 2013 NCAA Tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.
4. Duke, Midwest region
Points scored per game: 78.3
Points allowed per game: 65.4
Duke enters the NCAA tournament on shaky ground. Despite a strong showing in March, a recent loss to Maryland in the ACC conference tournament has left a sour note in the Blue Devils' mouth.
Duke is arguably the NCAA's most efficient offense. It averages 78.3 points per game, while shooting 47.6 percent from the field, 73.2 percent from the line and 40.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Defense is where things get shaky.
The Blue Devils have been inconsistent here all season long. They don't rebound particularly well, nor do they block many shots.
They lack consistency in being physical and defensively tough night-in and night-out. And unless they can recapture that toughness, they'll be more stepping stone than road block in the Midwest.
3. Ohio State, Western region
Points scored per game: 69.3
Points allowed per game: 57.9
Fresh off a Big Ten conference tournament win, Ohio State enters March Madness on a tear. The Buckeyes have yet to drop a game in March, and have an average margin of victory of 10.6 points in the month.
Ohio State isn't one of the best distributing teams out there, but that's not a problem with Deshaun Thomas. The junior forward led the Big Ten in scoring this year with 19.5 points per game.
Thomas is a big part of the Buckeye's offense, but they have plenty of other guys who can put up points too. Not to mention their team 45.4 field-goal percentage was one of the best in the Big Ten.
Defense is where Ohio State sets itself apart. It plays a solid all-around game, pressuring opposing teams and doing everything it can to keep the ball out of the basket.
Coming in with a hot hand, and strong defense, Ohio State is as dangerous as any team out there.
2. Georgetown, Southern region
Points scored per game: 64.6
Points allowed per game: 55.7
Overshadowed by Big East giant Louisville, Georgetown comes into the NCAA Tournament after a tremendously strong 2013.
The Hoyas finished their regular season with a 25-6 record, going 14-4 in conference. They're only 3-2 in March, but have looked unbeatable at times (see 61-39 win over Syracuse to close out the regular season).
Despite averaging just 64.6 points per game, Georgetown is the epitome of efficiency. It shoots 45.6 percent from the field, and 35.8 from three-point range (with two players shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc).
Defensively, there's almost no one better. The Hoyas pressure, limit shots and force turnovers.
The big problem for Georgetown this year has been learning to play without injured forward Greg Whittington. But even without the sophomore the team has found plenty of ways to win.
As long as the defense keeps playing tough, and the offense keeps hitting shots, Georgetown will be a force to be reckoned with.
1. Miami, Eastern region
Points scored per game: 69.9
Points allowed per game: 60.7
Even if Miami doesn't come into the tournament the hottest team in the field—though it is hot—it's likely it comes in the most confident.
Coming into the NCAA tournament off the first conference tournament victory in school history, the Hurricanes have been one of 2013's biggest surprises.
Taking a look at the team, they're quite good at everything you want from an NCAA tourney unit.
Offensively they average a healthy amount of points, and are efficient from the field. As a team they have a 46 percent field-goal percentage, and shoot 35.8 percent from three-point range.
But it's defensively that Miami's true bread-and-butter lies.
Even though it doesn't rebound particularly well (38.9 per game), Miami is great at applying pressure and creating turnovers.
Bringing to the tournament a healthy cocktail of veteran leadership (the Canes have six seniors), youthful energy (five underclassman), stout defense and efficient offense, there's no one Miami can't beat on a good night.
And given how much confidence this team seems to play with, the Hurricanes know that. That's got to be a frightening thought for the rest of this year's teams.
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