As the mad dash to get the 2013 NCAA tournament brackets filled out continues (print your's here), it’s time to find the second-round sleepers destined to shock the field and bust your bracket.
Instead of falling prey to the Cinderella stories of this year’s tourney, get ahead of the curve by picking these upsets and looking like a college basketball Nostradamus.
All of the following teams will win in the round of 64 and stun their higher-seeded opponents.
No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels
When the No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels take on the No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers in the second round of the NCAA West Regional Friday afternoon, the consensus (Covers.com has the Badgers as a 5.5-point favorite) has been that the higher-seeded team will take this victory.
Not so fast.
Led by the play of junior guard Marshall Henderson (20.1 points per game), the Rebels have put together offensive statistics this season that put the Badgers to shame. Wisconsin ranks 206th in the nation with an average of 66.2 points per game, and Ole Miss ranks seventh, averaging 78.2 points.
The Badgers may be one of the more efficient defensive teams in the tournament, but when Henderson gets fired up and his team follows him into battle, the Rebels are incredibly tough to beat.
Prediction: Ole Miss takes this matchup, 76-70.
No. 10 Colorado Buffaloes
The utter disrespect shown to the Pac-12 by the NCAA tournament selection committee is a farce, but it has set up the bracket for a few upsets. One of the biggest will be the No. 10 Colorado Buffaloes stunning the No. 7 Fighting Illini in the second round of the East Regional Friday night.
Illinois is the betting favorite in this matchup (h/t Covers.com), but Colorado is the better team overall.
Led by the stellar play of sophomore guard Spencer Dinwiddie (averaging 15.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and three assists this season) and an entire efficient offensive unit, the Buffaloes should be able to pull off the upset.
The Fighting Illini have the size and speed to keep the game close throughout in what will be by no means a blowout victory for Colorado, but the difference will be in tenacity. As talented as Illinois is, the Buffaloes are the more aggressive team on the boards and on defense.
That all-around effort will be the difference.
Prediction: Colorado for the win, 66-64.
No. 11 Minnesota Golden Gophers
Warning to all bracketeers: When the No. 11 Minnesota Golden Gophers square off against the No. 6 UCLA Bruins Friday night in the South Regional, UCLA will be without second-leading scorer Jordan Adams—out with a broken foot he suffered in the Pac-12 tournament (h/t ESPN).
That injury changes the dynamic of this matchup, and as good as Bruins freshman Shabazz Muhammad has been this season (17.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game), the Golden Gophers are ready to make a bold statement in the second round by sending UCLA home early.
Minnesota will lean heavily on its dynamic guard tandem of Austin and Andre Hollins, who are both averaging more than 10 points, three rebounds and two assists.
If the Golden Gophers get the same offensive production from their elite guard duo Friday, the Bruins' season will be over.
Prediction: Minnesota holds on, 72-71.
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