NCAA Brackets 2013: Underdogs You Can't Afford To Ignore
Before you submit your bracket (print yours here), there are a few underdogs you will want to consider picking to move on to the round of 32.
These second-round sleepers are set to upset the favorites, and if you don't have them pencilled in as winners your bracket won't be worth the paper it's printed on by the time the Final Four arrives.
All three of these teams will knock off their higher-seeded foes.
Belmont Bruins (11)
Belmont is set to face the sixth-seeded Arizona Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA West Regional on Thursday afternoon, and Arizona is the consensus favorite (Covers.com has the Wildcats as 4.5-point favorites).
Don't tell that to Arizona head coach Sean Miller, though.
The Bruins feature an explosive offensive attack that scored more than 77 points per contest this season, ranking No. 15 in the nation. Senior guards Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson comprise one of the best backcourts in the nation, and they average nearly 32 points a game.
As a team, Belmont makes 56.4 percent of all field goal attempts inside the three-point line, which is tied for the best mark of any team in the nation.
Belmont have rattled off six straight victories heading into the tournament, while Arizona have lost three of its last five. Belmont will come out with a phenomenal shooting display and overwhelm the Wildcats in Round 2.
South Dakota State Jackrabbits (13)
It seems like nobody is giving the Jackrabbits a fighting chance to win in Round 2 against No. 4 seed Michigan on Thursday night in the NCAA South Regional. The Wolverines are heavy favorites heading into the game (Covers.com has Michigan as 11-point favorites).
This contest will inevitably be an offensive shootout. Both teams average over 70 points per game, and both feature high-octane backcourts capable of lighting up the scoreboard with threes.
Michigan lost its first game to Ohio last year as a No. 4 seed, and the stage is set once again for the Wolverines to lose again in 2013.
The stage was too big for the Jackrabbits in the team's first tournament appearance last year, but according to head coach Scott Nagy, via Drew Ellis of the Journal Register, the team isn't as starstruck his year and is "a bit more like business."
Senior guard Nate Wolters is one of the best players at any position in the nation, and his leadership and talent will spur the Jackrabbits to victory.
La Salle Explorers (13)
Losing two games heading into the NCAA tournament isn't the kind of momentum-building exercise head coaches dream about, but La Salle shrugged off its recent losses to defeat Boise State in Round 1.
The team is now ready to do the same thing to No. 4 seed Kansas State on Friday in the NCAA West Region.
The Explorers feature a talented triplet of guards in Ramon Galloway, Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland, all of whom average more than 13 points per contest. These three push a high-octane offense that scores points in bunches.
This team lives and dies by the three-point shot (37.6 percent from behind the arc), which bodes well against Kansas State—a poor-rebounding team.
In addition to their proclivity to scoring, La Salle features a feisty defense that is adept at forcing turnovers, averaging eight steals per game.
La Salle will knock off Kansas State with a barrage of threes and some timely steals, moving on to Round 3.
Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.
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