One of the first things people look for when filling out an NCAA tournament bracket is potential upsets in the round of 64. Everybody wants to gain that early advantage to give themselves a little more leeway in the later rounds.
It's probably more true than ever in 2013 since the college basketball regular season was highlighted by surprising results. So while examining the entire bracket for March Madness (printable version here), there are definitely some potential upsets brewing.
Although there are several high seeds that won't make it through the first full round of play, let's take a look at three teams that should be able to survive tricky tests in their opening game. Once that happens, the door opens for a deep run.
No. 3 Marquette (vs. Davidson)
Davidson is generating a lot of hype right now. The Wildcats enter the tournament on a 17-game winning streak that dates back to mid-January. Even though it's an impressive stretch, it's important to note they didn't beat a single ranked team along the way.
In fact, they have only faced two ranked teams all season, losing both games by an average of over 15 points. Marquette is the best team the Wildcats will have faced since the second day of the new year when it lost to Duke.
After going that long without facing a top-tier opponent it's tough to adjust. The Golden Eagles should be able to use their deep scoring attack, led by Vander Blue and Davante Gardner, to gain control on a team that's been less than impressive on the defensive end.
No. 4 Saint Louis (vs. New Mexico State)
If you don't know the name Sim Bhullar yet, get ready to hear plenty about him when this matchup tips off. The New Mexico State freshman center, who checks in a 7'5'' and over 350 pounds, is a dominant force in the paint.
He pairs with Bandja Sy to give the Aggies a terrific presence in the post, something Saint Louis should be concerned about. It means a bigger role for Rob Loe and will force Dwayne Evans to work for his points when attacking the rim.
The good news for the Billikens is that the Aggies struggle on the offensive end. So even if it takes them until the first or second media timeout to find a rhythm, they shouldn't be in any type of major hole. As long as they aren't ice cold from the perimeter, they will advance.
No. 5 Oklahoma State (vs. Oregon)
As always, the matchups featuring No. 5 seeds vs. No. 12 seeds are going to attract attention. History tells us it's one area where a lot of upsets tend to come from, so it just comes down to nailing which favorites are the most vulnerable.
It's not Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are an athletic group that excelled on the defensive end. It's an effort led by Marcus Smart, who averages nearly three steals per game, and paint protector Michael Cobbins.
They also have three players averaging more than 14 points per game. So the Cowboys are a well-rounded group that should be able to get past an Oregon squad that lost six games to unranked opponents in the season's second half.
Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA Tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.
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