On the opposite side of a Cinderella, there is a team who has failed to live up to their expectations during the NCAA Tournament. What makes sleeper teams so special is their uncanny ability to outperform their more talented opponent in every phase of the game.
March Madness is the most exciting time of the year because on any given day a giant can fall to a relatively unknown team. Every year it happens, and every year many are shocked to see a team come out of nowhere.
The signs of a potential upset were there all along, though. The NCAA Selection committee overseeds teams annually, and likewise, underseeds other teams as well. While most every team in this year's tournament has some sort of glaring weakness, there are a few top teams who are doomed to fall in the first weekend of NCAA Tournament play. This year though, the Cinderellas look a bit different.
I know it may be cliche to have the mid-major number one seed exiting early, but it is very possible with their potential third round match-up with Pittsburgh (technically it's the third round because the "First-Four" counts as the first round).
The big problem with Gonzaga is they are untested. They've beaten nobody in recent memory, dominating the inferior competition of the WCC of late. Yes, beating St. Mary's three times is nice, but their second biggest victory was by one point at Oklahoma State. Don't get me wrong, it's a quality win, but the Bulldogs have lost their two other biggest games against Illinois and Butler.
If Pitt is able to get by Witchita State, then Gonzaga could struggle against the Panthers. According to Ken Pomeroy's rankings, Pitt is the most underseeded team in the tournament. Pomeroy's ranking system has Pitt ranked seventh in the nation, only three spots behind Gonzaga at four.
More importantly, Pitt should be able to dominate the glass against Gonzaga. Pitt is fourth in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage and is eight in offensive points per possession. Their relatively slow pace of play results in an overall low points per game, but the fact that they score efficiently is more important.
The physical nature Pitt plays with is what pegs them as the favorite in this game. The Panther's physicality on defense and on the boards will overmatch the Zags, resulting in an early round upset.
I can all but guarantee you Kansas doesn't lose its opening game to Western Kentucky, but their second game will be an interesting one.
I'm assuming North Carolina bests Villanova in their match-up, culminating in another Roy Williams vs. Kansas show down. The past two times, Kansas has gotten the upper hand; this time, though, it could be different.
Kansas is one of the most talented teams in the nation and has one of the best inside out games in the nation. With Ben McLemore on the outside and Jeff Withey on the inside, the Jayhawks will be tough to stop. They also have one of the best defenses in the nation allowing only .879 points per possession. But the Tar Heels are also talented, and have played well since going to their four guard lineup.
Both P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock present difficult matchups for the Jayhawks, and will be difficult to defend. UNC's point guard, Marcus Paige, has played much better of late, giving the Jayhawks another player to worry about. North Carolina has been deadly from three all season, and if Hairston and Bullock get open looks, Kansas will be in trouble.
Kansas has struggled with turnovers all year long, and North Carolina has improved as Paige has improved. Look for UNC to play a pressure defense against the Jayhawks, leading to easy baskets the other way.