The 2013 NCAA tournament is officially underway, and the field of 64 teams is closer to being set after Saint Mary’s (CA) knocked off Middle Tennessee State and NC A&T overcame Liberty in the initial two “First Four” matchups.
On Wednesday night, LIU-Brooklyn will square off with James Madison, followed by Boise State against La Salle to determine the field for the round of 64.
Many fans like to wait until after the First Four matchups to fill out their brackets, so don't forget to print yours out by clicking here. You can also follow along with the live bracket, which will be updated throughout the tournament.
Before the second round begins in earnest, you may want to get some bets in on some long shots to win it all this year. Let’s take a look at some of the best bets on the board for teams that could navigate to a title despite a mediocre seeding.
*Odds courtesy of Bovada.lv
No. 7 Creighton, 100/1
The Bluejays have one of the best players in this event and the offensive firepower that wins ballgames during March Madness.
Doug McDermott averages a whopping 23.1 points per game and the rest of the team follows suit in that department—scoring an average of 75.4 points per night.
While Creighton’s offense may revolve around a superstar, the squad certainly isn’t averse to sharing the ball and loves to look for the open shot.
In fact, the Bluejays are ranked No. 5 in the nation in the assist department, averaging 17.2 per game. Meanwhile, they are first in field-goal percentage, shooting a blistering 50.8 percent from the field.
As long as the Missouri Valley Conference champs stick to their style of basketball, they will be knocking down shots and advancing deep into this event.
No. 8 NC State, 66/1
The Wolfpack are one of the more interesting bets on the board. They were once ranked inside the Top 10 of the AP poll and were expected to come out ahead in the tough ACC race this season.
However, the talented squad struggled at times and NC State never quite lived up to the lofty expectations that were foisted upon it during the 2012-13 campaign.
Regardless, any lineup that includes stars C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell and Lorenzo Brown—plus a host of elite role players—has to be a dark-horse contender to win the Big Dance.
Should the Wolfpack find a way to string together a few elite performances, they will show the world that they are capable of playing as well as any team in this tournament.
No. 8 North Carolina, 60/1
Before falling to Duke in the regular-season finale and tripping up against Miami in the ACC tourney, the Tar Heels were looking like one of the top programs in the country.
Coach Roy Williams’ decision to employ a small-ball lineup was absolutely genius, and it has helped turn this program around immensely after the tough start to the season.
It will be interesting to see if UNC can keep up its winning ways while forfeiting the battle on the glass to the opponent. The strategy worked for a six-game stretch before Duke busted it in the Tobacco Road rivalry.
If coach Williams can tinker with the lineup and make some slight adjustments, the Tar Heels have the firepower and athleticism to hang with anyone—especially in the weak South region of the bracket.