NCAA Tournament 2013: Teams Flying Under the Radar Coming into Round of 64

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2013

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 16: Joe Jackson #1 of the Memphis Tigers reacts after a play against the Saint Louis Billikens in the second half during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 16, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

In a field of 60-plus teams, it's easy to lose track of a few contenders. 

While there is no shortage of attention being paid to the top seeds in this March's 2013 NCAA tournament, there are a handful of elite teams being overlooked as the most entertaining two-day stretch of the year gets set to begin.

Here we'll break down a trio of teams that are flying under the radar coming into Thursday and Friday's round of 64 action.

*Be sure to download and print out your bracket before the Round of 64 tips off.


No. 7 Creighton Bluejays, Midwest Region

With so many talented teams in the Midwest Region this March, the seventh-seeded Creighton Bluejays are flying under the radar.

Not only is Creighton a favorite against No. 10 Cincinnati this Friday, but the Bluejays should be considered a legitimate threat in the loaded Midwest. In addition to featuring the nation's second-leading scorer in Doug McDermott, Creighton is the best shooting team in the country in terms of field goal percentage (50.8 percent).

Led by McDermott's 50 percent mark from downtown, the Bluejays also rank tops in the nation in three-point percentage (42.1 percent) this season. 

With the National Player of the Year candidate leading the way, Creighton is sure to challenge for a spot in the Sweet 16 this weekend in Philadelphia.


No. 6 Memphis Tigers, Midwest Region

As already mentioned, the Midwest Region is stacked this year, and another under-the-radar team to watch in that bracket will be the Memphis Tigers, who went 16-0 in Conference USA this season, winning the league tournament this past weekend as well.

Although the Tigers lost their big out-of-conference games this season, falling to tournament teams VCU, Minnesota and Louisville, they are sizzling at the moment, having won six straight and 24 of their last 25 games dating back to last December.

Memphis, which is led by talented junior guard Joe Jackson (13.6 points and 4.8 assists per game), ranks fourth in the nation in blocked shots per game (6.3) and fourth in assists per game (17.2). 

If Josh Pastner's bunch can keep up the solid ball movement and stellar defense, it has the potential to win multiple games this year and upend No. 3-seeded Michigan State in the round of 32 on Saturday.


No. 5 VCU Rams, South Region

Shaka Smart's Rams stumbled into the NCAA Tournament this March after losing to Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 Tournament final on Sunday, but still VCU must be recognized as one of the most dangerous teams in the field this year.

The A-10 runner-up lost tight games out of conference to Wichita State, Duke and Missouri, but it did earn quality wins over tournament teams Memphis, Belmont and Butler.

Plus, there's no team in America better at forcing steals than VCU, which leads the nation with 11.9 steals per game this season. The Rams are led by Briante Weber and Darius Theus in this category. The two guards combine for 5.3 steals per game.

VCU will take on 12th-seeded Akron in its opening game on Thursday and then the winner of No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 13 South Dakota State on Saturday if it can get past the Zips.

Remember, Juvonte Reddic, Rob Brandenberg and Theus all played quality minutes for the Rams when they made their surprising run to the Final Four two years ago as a No. 11 seed in the Southwest Region.


Be sure you stay updated throughout March Madness with Bleacher Report's live 2013 NCAA tournament bracket. And don't forget to download and print one of your own

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