NCAA Tournament 2013: Sneakiest Bracket-Busters to Watch for in March Madness

John RozumCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2013

Keep an eye on the Ducks when the Madness begins.
Keep an eye on the Ducks when the Madness begins.Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Forget sleepers: The sneakiest 2013 NCAA March Madness bracket-busters are the schools to sniff out when filling in your bracket.

Sleepers are getting too much exposure, simply because everyone wants to know who they are. Which sleepers will make a deep run? Who is the biggest sleeper in each region? And so forth.

Well, the sneakier teams are those possessing a combination of confidence, momentum, battled-tested schedule and consistency. One team featured ahead that fits that description is Oregon.

Oregon is a team on the map after winning the conference tournament but was a No. 12 seed too low? Combine that with potential matchups against St. Louis and Louisville, and the Ducks received an unfavorable draw.

Fortunately, they remain a tough out along with others mentioned here.



Oregon, Midwest Region

Despite winning the Pac-12 conference tournament, Oregon didn't receive much respect with a No. 12 seed. In addition, the Ducks get sided on the same part of the Midwest bracket as St. Louis and Louisville.

There's arguably no one else entering the madness with more confidence than Oregon, though. After a sound regular season that included wins over UNLV, Arizona and UCLA, the Ducks conquered the Bruins once more for the conference tournament title, proving they will be a strong match.

Along with averaging 37.4 rebounds per game, the Ducks are sound defensively, giving up only 63.6 points per game. As a result, Oregon ranks No. 18 in defensive efficiency. Pair that with an offense capable of hitting roughly 80 points when needed.



La Salle, West Region

Although the La Salle Explorers were given a No. 11 seed, they are one of the first four games before the Round of 64. That said, we saw the VCU Rams reach the Final Four from there, and La Salle has this potential.

The Explorers finished fifth in the Atlantic 10 regular season, a conference that featured six schools with 20-plus wins leading into March Madness. As for La Salle, it collected wins over Butler (split), VCU and Villanova.

Factor in the offense to present a quick pace (70.4 points per game) and multiple players with the ability to score and pass, the Explorers can up the tempo. Without question the defense must improve (it allows 66 points per game), but La Salle also generates nearly 15 turnovers per contest.

By giving its offense additional possessions, the Explorers become a more dangerous opponent.



Minnesota, South Region

Don't sleep on coach Tubby Smith and the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Although they finished tied for No. 7 in the Big Ten with an 8-10 conference record, this was the deepest league of the 2012-13 campaign. Even better, Minnesota logged splits against Michigan State, Wisconsin and Indiana, went 1-2 versus Illinois and defeated Memphis early on.

Courting a tough defense that allowed only 61.7 points per game, the Gophers also gave up a mere 39.6 shooting percentage. This impenetrable defense also assists the offense nicely because despite managing only 68.4 points per game, Minnesota ranks No. 17 in rebounds (38.8 per game).

Lest we forget about Smith, as he's still one of college basketball's best coaches.


Davidson, East Region

Davidson is a team that knows how to win under pressure.

The team currently rides a 17-game win streak and hasn't fallen since mid-January. Along with taking the Southern conference regular season title, the Wildcats performed an encore by winning the conference's tournament.

This level of consistency is quite impressive, especially when doing it versus opponents that are familiar with personnel and tendencies. And although Davidson's nonconference victories weren't outstanding, it did gain experience in rough losses to Duke and Gonzaga.

Plus, the Wildcats are reliable marksmen around the bucket and allow only 62 points per game. Its underrated defense gives Davidson an opportunity to make noise, letting it capitalize on its ability to score.



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