NCAA Tournament 2013 Predictions: Biggest Threat to the Top Seeds in Each Region

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NCAA Tournament 2013 Predictions: Biggest Threat to the Top Seeds in Each Region
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The top seeds in the NCAA tournament are Louisville, Kansas, Indiana and Gonzaga. Only Indiana was a shaky choice, as the Miami Hurricanes could certainly make the argument that they deserve the top seed in the East region.

Ultimately, teams have to win the same amount of games, and there really shouldn't be a huge difference between a No. 16 and No. 15 seed as far as a top seed is concerned.

Taking a look at the brackets, the Indiana Hoosiers' road to the Final Four figures to be especially rough.

Though they should obviously win their first matchup against the winner of the LIU-Brooklyn and James Madison play-in game, I predict the subsequent round will be their undoing.

Here is a breakdown of the biggest threat to each top seed, starting with the pack of wolves that will send the Hoosiers home early.

 

East Regional: N.C. State Will Drop the Hoosiers in the Round of 32

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We've seen top-rated teams fall all season in college basketball, so this type of prediction shouldn't come as a shock.

Obviously, this pick comes under the assumption that N.C. State will defeat Temple in their opening game—which is not a complete given, but led by C.J. Leslie, this team is extremely talented.

Some may believe the Wolfpack underachieved during the regular season after a deep tournament run last year.

Head coach Mark Gottfried guided the Wolfpack to the Sweet 16 in the 2012 tournament, and they narrowly lost to Kansas to fall short of reaching the Elite Eight.

They are tournament-tested, and they have been playing well as of late. The Wolfpack guards have a nice combination of size and the ability to connect from deep. Senior Lorenzo Brown is a 6'5" point guard whose on-court leadership and playmaking will be big in the tournament.

Rodney Purvis is a gunner, connecting on 38.5 percent of his shots from deep. Along with Leslie's versatility, they present tough matchups for Indiana.

More than anything though, the Hoosiers will fall victim to having an ensemble of talent without a defined leader.

Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller may both be lottery picks in the NBA draft, but when the team really needs a bucket, it appears unsure as to which player is the go-to guy.

That indecisiveness will haunt them, as the Wolfpack's pressure defense, athleticism and experience will prevail.

 

West Regional: Gonzaga Will Fall to Kansas State

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The Bulldogs have held on to the No. 1 ranking for a few weeks, but maintaining supremacy in the West Coast conference is different than winning consistently in the NCAA tournament.

I don't predict Gonzaga will lose in the second round or even in the Round of 32. But I see them falling to the Kansas State Wildcats in a battle to reach the Sweet 16.

The Bulldogs actually defeated the Wildcats 68-52 early in the season, but the Wildcats are a better team now than they were then. Rodney McGruder had his worst game of the season, scoring only four points. That won't happen again.

The team is playing well late in the season, despite its loss to Kansas in the Big 12 title game. McGruder is stepping up in a major way when the spotlight is brightest, and this team defends consistently.

The Bulldogs have problems with Kansas because of the Jayhawks' overall athleticism at most positions. But man for man, Gonzaga doesn't present the same issues.

Kelly Olynyk is obviously the major focus of Gonzaga's attack, but he isn't especially physical in the middle, and the Wildcats' swarming defense will present problems for Olynyk.

Kansas State is only surrendering 60.4 points per game this season, and that defense, combined with a better performance from McGruder, will lead them to victory.

 

Midwest Regional: Can Anyone Beat Louisville?

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The Louisville Cardinals were impressive in winning the Big East tournament, and they earned the No. 1 seed. The only game prior to reaching the Elite Eight that could potentially be a pitfall for them is the Sweet 16 matchup.

I predict the Oregon Ducks will be the No. 12 seed that makes the most noise in this tournament, as almost every year it seems a No. 12 seed shines.

This team plays a fast pace, and it has good guard play from E.J. Singler and Damyean Dotson. This duo is fearless, athletic and unconscious from deep.

The Cardinals' overall talent and depth should win out, but this will be a tough game, should it happen.

 

South Region: VCU Will Knock off Kansas

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Perhaps no No. 1 seed has had as many shaky moments as Kansas. It lost three in a row during one stretch in the regular season, and it was blown out by a Baylor team that didn't even reach the Big Dance.

Still, from a talent standpoint, the Jayhawks are one of the top teams, and they did win their conference tournament.

They should face Shaka Smart's VCU Rams in the Sweet 16, and I predict the Rams will pull the slight upset. Smart's squad isn't exactly sneaking up on anyone this year. They are 26-8 and ranked No. 21 in the USA Today poll (ESPN), so this win wouldn't be a major shocker.

What's great about this VCU team is that they have a nice balance of impact bigs and guards. Juvonte Reddic is averaging 14.4 points and 8.3 rebounds to solidify the middle, and he's a big that makes 71 percent of his free throws. That's a rarity in the college game.

Guard Treveon Graham leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.5 per game, and the team has the requisite outside shooting to spread the floor.

The Rams are also one of the best defensive teams in the nation, allowing only 64.8 points per game. This will be the biggest factor.

The Jayhawks are devoid of an offensive identity when Ben McLemore isn't hot from the outside or aggressively attacking the rim.

The Rams force turnovers and they are always well prepared. Smart is one of the two best coaches in the nation (Brad Stevens of Butler being the other), and he'll add another major win to his impressive resume. 

 

Before the tournament begins, here's a printable PDF bracket.

After the tournament begins, follow the live bracket.

 

Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA Tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.

 

Follow Brian Mazique and Franchiseplay on YouTube and Twitter for reactions, analysis and news from the world of sports and sports video games.

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