NCAA Bracket Predictions 2013: Double-Digit Seeds Set to Surprise This March

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2013

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 15:  Jake Cohen #15 of the Davidson Wildcats boxes out Jared Swopshire #21 of the Louisville Cardinals in the first half in the second round of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Rose Garden Arena on March 15, 2012 in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The 2013 NCAA tournament bracket is starting to come together as First Four action from Dayton gets set to conclude on Wednesday, setting up a field of 64 teams to begin the second round on Thursday afternoon.

While many will be tuning in to see how the top-seeded favorites perform in the round of 64 on Thursday and Friday, others will be watching on the edge of their seats with fingers crossed, pulling for Cinderella. 

In that spirit, here we'll take a closer look at a trio of double-digit seeds set to surprise college basketball fans this March.

South Region: No. 11 Minnesota Golden Gophers

Don't count out Tubby Smith's Golden Gophers in the South region this year. Minnesota has picked up some big wins this season already, and will have an advantage going up against a short-handed UCLA team in Austin on Friday night.

The Bruins will be without second-leading scorer Jordan Adams (15.3 points per game) for the rest of the season, meaning that freshman sensation Shabazz Muhammad will have to carry the load for sixth-seeded UCLA.

Minnesota has knocked off a bunch of NCAA tournament teams this year, including Big Ten rivals Michigan State, Wisconsin and Indiana.

In addition to boasting some impressive victories, the Gophers are one of the top rebounding teams in the country. Led by senior forward Trevor Mbakwe (8.7 rebounds per game), Minnesota is bringing down close to 39 boards per game this year.

Look for Minnesota to win the battle on the backboards against UCLA, and upend the Bruins en route to the round of 32 this weekend.

South Region: No. 13 South Dakota State Jackrabbits

Led by the nation's fourth-leading scorer Nate Wolters, the Summit League champion South Dakota State Jackrabbits are set to surprise in the Big Dance this year.

Winners of four straight, the Jackrabbits will take on fourth-seeded Michigan in the South region on Thursday night in Auburn Hills. Although the Wolverines will be at an advantage playing closer to home, Player of the Year candidate Trey Burke will have his hands full against Wolters, a 6'4" point guard who's averaging 22.7 points, 5.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game this year as a senior.

Michigan has been mediocre as of late as well, going 6-6 over its last 12 games following a 20-1 start to the season. And remember, John Beilein's team lost at this exact stage a year ago, falling to 13th-seeded Ohio in the round of 64.

If Wolters—who posted 19 points, four assists and four rebounds in last year's round of 64 loss to Baylor—can find a rhythm and stay hot, the Jackrabbits have the shooters to upend an upset-prone Wolverines squad in 2013.

East Region: No. 14 Davidson Wildcats

Although many college basketball fans are unfamiliar with and therefore a little unsure about picking New Mexico out West, Marquette may be the most under-the-radar and vulnerable No. 3 seed in this year's tournament.

Buzz Williams' Golden Eagles will have their hands full against No. 14 Davidson on Thursday afternoon in Lexington in the East region. The Wildcats, who will be playing just a few hundred miles from home, have won 17 straight games overall and can light up the scoreboard as well.

Nik Cochran and Chris Czerapowicz are both tremendous three-point shooters for Davidson and leading scorer Jake Cohen (14.8 points per game) can hit from beyond the arc as well. If Marquette's Vander Blue (14.3 points per game) struggles, the Eagles could find themselves headed home early.

Davidson is the best free-throw shooting team in the country (80.1 percent), so it won't beat itself at the foul line this March. Plus, the Wildcats are the 13th-best team in the nation in points per possession (1.13). 

The Wildcats are efficient offensively and overall a dangerous No. 14 seed that's sure to surprise in the round of 64.

Be sure to stay updated throughout March Madness using Bleacher Report's live 2013 NCAA Tournament bracket. And remember to download and print out your own bracket.

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