NCAA Tournament 2013: Unpredictable Teams Capable of Blowing Up Brackets

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NCAA Tournament 2013: Unpredictable Teams Capable of Blowing Up Brackets
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Nothing is more frustrating for fans filling out brackets than really talented teams that have proven to be inconsistent throughout the year, have underachieved or simply have drawn tough matchups early in the bracket.

On one hand, you want to pick them simply because they have the talent to go on a deep run. On the other hand, they've proven to be unreliable in the past and could blow up your bracket if you trust them to much.

What's a fan to do?

In this article, I attempt to answer that question about three teams that could very well make a deep tourney run, but could just as easily go one-and-done. Fret not, fans—I've pegged down exactly what to expect from these high-risk, high-reward teams.

 

Michigan

In my opinion, no team will have a greater impact on brackets than the Wolverines.

Michigan is capable of winning the national championship this year—yes, they are that talented—but they could just as easily be eliminated by South Dakota State, a trendy upset pick this year. I don't think there is another team that has such polarized potential.

 

Why They Could Flourish

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Sophomore Trey Burke (19.2 PPG, 6.2 APG) is one of the best players in the country and could go on a Kemba Walker-like tear, carrying the Wolverines behind him. Glenn Robinson III, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas can also fill it up.

In total, the Wolverines are a scary offensive team, with the second-most efficient offense in the country (according to KenPom.com), the ninth-best field-goal percentage (.484) and the 29th-best three-point percentage (.380).

Elite guard play is vital in the tournament, and the Wolverines have it in spades. And with wins over Pittsburgh, Kansas State, NC State, West Virginia, Minnesota, Ohio State and Michigan State, the Wolverines have proven they can beat top competition.


Why They Could Flounder

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The Wolverines are really young and really inexperienced. They struggled down the stretch, finishing 6-6 after starting the season 20-1. The team is ranked 58th in defensive efficiency according to KenPom, not the level of defense you associate with title contenders.

 

Projection

The bracket lines up nicely for Michigan to make a run to the Elite Eight. Kansas could be shocked in the round of 32 if they meet Villanova, and I think Trey Burke alone is worth a few wins in this tournament for Michigan. Don't buy the South Dakota upset hype, and while VCU will give Michigan some problems in the round of 32, the Wolverines will move on.

Florida will end the Michigan run, but a trip to the Elite Eight will be a nice consolation prize for this young, talented team.

 

NC State

NC State has a lot of talent and five future NBA players in Lorenzo Brown, C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell, T.J. Warren and Rodney Purvis, and starting guard Scott Wood is hardly chopped liver. It's an experienced bunch that advanced to the Sweet 16 last year.

It's also an inconsistent bunch that finished the season 10-9 after starting 14-2. With a brutal draw, can the Wolfpack make a run?

 

Why They Could Flourish

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On sheer talent alone, NC State is a dangerous bunch. Offensively they are scary—NC State has the nation's 11th-most-efficient offense (via KenPom), was 13th in scoring (77.5 PPG), fifth in field-goal percentage (.494) and 13th in three-point percentage (.390). 

This team can flat-out score the rock, and has the potential to simply outscore any opponent they face.

 

Why They Could Flounder

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NC State didn't exactly light the world on fire down the stretch. The Wolfpack have as many bad losses (Wake Forest, Florida State) as impressive wins (Duke, UConn). They got a terrible draw as a No. 8 seed, opening with Temple and likely facing Indiana if they beat the Owls.

And with a defensive efficiency ranking of 106, the Wolfpack don't meet the traditional formula for teams that reach the Final Four.

 

Projection

The Wolfpack will get past Temple, but Indiana is a terrible matchup for NC State. For as much talent as the Wolfpack have, the Hoosiers have even more and are a much better defensive team. The round of 32 will be as far as NC State advances.

 

UNLV

UNLV has immense talent—are you sensing a theme here?—but inconsistency plagued them throughout much of the year. 

Anthony Bennett is one of the most talented freshman players in America. Anthony Marshall has thrived as the team's point guard. Mike Moser could propel this team to great things if he's a factor off the bench. This team read's like a who's who list of highly-sought high school prospects.

UNLV has the potential to be this year's surprise Final Four entry. Can they tap into that potential for four games in the tourney?


Why They Could Flourish

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UNLV has more talent than most teams they line up against, plain and simple. If Bennett and Moser play up to their ability, UNLV is tough to beat.

But the biggest factor is that this team plays very good defense, with a defensive efficiency ranking of 14th in the nation, according to KenPom. UNLV is dangerous on the break, so if it can turn that stingy defense into easy points in transition, it will be tough to beat.

 

Why They Could Flounder

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UNLV simply isn't a great half-court team offensively. They often beat themselves, either through a lack of mental toughness or simply by making bonehead mistakes. They aren't a threat to beat teams from beyond the arc, making transition scoring all the more important.

Oh, and UNLV has a pretty tough draw. California is an under-seeded No. 12 that nearly beat the Rebels earlier in the season—yes, these teams have already met—while a potential second-round matchup against a steady Syracuse team could be all she wrote for the Rebels.

Which team is most likely to make a deep run?

Submit Vote vote to see results

 

Projection

I think based on sheer talent and defense alone, the Rebels will advance to the Sweet 16. And that's where they'll meet Indiana, a team that is more talented, smarter, more balanced and thrived in a far tougher conference this year. 

 

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Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are busting brackets and beating the buzzer all week long.

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