Round of 32 Teams on Upset Alert in 2013 NCAA Tournament
The first two days of the NCAA tournament produced some memorable upsets.
In the South Region, Florida Gulf Coast became the third No. 15 seed to pull an upset in the last two years, beating No. 2 Georgetown 78-68. The West Region has been all sorts of crazy, with four double-digit seeds still alive.
In the round of 32, the drama and upsets do not figure to stop, especially in a year like this where parity has been a recurring theme.
Here are the top eight teams who should be on upset alert in the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.
8. Louisville (No. 1 Midwest Region)
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Opponent: No. 8 Colorado State in Lexington, Ky.
No one is playing at a higher level than Louisville right now. In that sense, it might be surprising to see the Cardinals even on this list.
However, there is something about Colorado State that feels like the Rams could pull a Northern Iowa-esque upset in the round of 32 over an unsuspecting No. 1 seed.
Colorado State is the best rebounding team in the country. The Rams rank first in defensive rebound percentage and second in offensive rebound percentage, according to KenPom.com.
They also do a nice job taking care of the ball, ranking No. 18 nationally in turnover percentage.
7. Arizona (No. 6 West Region)
Opponent: No. 14 Harvard in Salt Lake City, Utah
Arizona escaped one potential Cinderella in Belmont rather easily in the round of 64. Now, the Wildcats move on to face Harvard, which is coming off its first NCAA tournament win in program history.
The Crimson’s upset of New Mexico didn’t come out of nowhere. They beat California on the road in the regular season and lost at Saint Mary’s by one.
Harvard is an excellent three-point shooting team, shooting 40.3 percent on the year. That was on full display against the Lobos when the Crimson made 8-of-18 from downtown.
If they are hitting from the outside against Arizona, the Crimson could become the first No. 14 seed to make the Sweet 16 since 1997.
6. Miami (No. 2 East Region)
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Opponent: No. 7 Illinois in Austin, Texas
Miami looked awfully good in its first game of the NCAA tournament, beating Pacific 78-49. The Hurricanes even got a nice 10-rebound performance from big man Reggie Johnson, who had been struggling recently.
The wild card in this matchup, though, is Illinois. The Illini have looked very strong at times this year with double-digit wins over Gonzaga, Butler and Ohio State. They also have looked terrible at times like in their double-digit home loss to Northwestern.
If Brandon Paul plays well and Illinois is making shots from the outside, the Illini could put some pressure on Miami, whose players have very little NCAA tournament experience.
5. Ohio State (No. 2 West Region)
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Opponent: No. 10 Iowa State in Dayton, Ohio
Ohio State has a lot going for it as it tries to make it to at least the second weekend of the tournament for the fourth straight year. For one, the Buckeyes looked strong in their first game against Iona, beating the Gaels 95-70. They also get to play in their home state.
However, Iowa State looked excellent in its 76-58 win over Notre Dame on Friday night. The Cyclones did their damage on the defensive end, forcing the Irish into 17 turnovers.
It isn’t their defense that makes the Cyclones a dangerous matchup for anyone. Iowa State led the country in the regular season with 9.8 made threes per game.
The Cyclones can fill it up from the outside, and if they get hot, they can beat anyone in the country.
4. Kansas (No. 1 South Region)
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Opponent: No. 8 North Carolina in Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas got a serious scare from No. 16 Western Kentucky, trailing by one at halftime before eventually getting a 64-57 win. The Jayhawks had some of their ball-handling issues pop up again, turning the ball over 17 times.
In the round of 32, Kansas will take on North Carolina in a game that, obviously, has plenty of storylines. It is the third time these programs have met since Roy Williams left Lawrence for Chapel Hill. The good news for Bill Self and the Jayhawks is they have won the other two meetings in the 2008 Final Four and last year in the Elite Eight.
The Tar Heels have been playing well since Williams inserted P.J. Hairston into the starting lineup. Their small lineup could pose some problems for Kansas on the perimeter. Earlier this season, the Jayhawks struggled to guard a smaller Iowa State team, giving up 17 threes in an overtime victory on Feb. 25.
3. Syracuse (No. 4 East Region)
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Opponent: No. 12 California in San Jose, Calif.
Syracuse easily got by Montana by 47 points in the round of 64. The Orange will now take a big step up in competition on Saturday when they have to face California.
Besides the Golden Bears being a good team, Syracuse will also have to deal with playing them in San Jose, where Cal figures to have plenty of support.
Cal really came into its own late in the year, winning seven in a row at one point before losing its final two regular-season games.
Defensively, the Golden Bears limit their opponents to 41.8 percent shooting inside the arc, ranking seventh in the country, according to KenPom.com.
Forcing Syracuse to hit outside shots is a great recipe to beat the Orange.
2. Marquette (No. 3 East Region)
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Opponent: No. 6 Butler in Lexington, Ky.
Marquette is fortunate that it made it to the round of 32 after barely escaping No. 14 Davidson, 59-58. The Golden Eagles hit three shots from deep in the final minute and benefited from the Wildcats making an unfortunate turnover in the final seconds, setting up Vander Blue’s game-winner.
Butler, meanwhile, looked like the same team that made back-to-back national title game appearances in 2010-11. The Bulldogs made life difficult for Bucknell, holding a formidable Bison offense to just 37.1 percent shooting.
The Bulldogs already beat Marquette in Maui back in November, but they needed a desperation heave from Rotnei Clarke at the buzzer to pull out the 72-71 win.
If Butler can keep Marquette out of the lane and force the Golden Eagles to hit outside shots, the Bulldogs have an excellent chance of advancing to the Sweet 16.
1. Gonzaga (No. 1 West Region)
Opponent: No. 9 Wichita State in Salt Lake City, Utah
Gonzaga did not do much to quiet the criticism of its No. 1 seed, barely squeaking by No. 16 Southern 64-58 in the round of 64.
A whole other physical challenge awaits the Zags in the round of 32 as they face Wichita State. The Shockers dominated Pittsburgh 73-55 in their first game despite making just 2-of-20 from beyond the arc.
Wichita State gets it done with toughness, ranking in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive rebound percentage, according to KenPom.com.
Gonzaga will have to handle the physicality of the Shockers, especially in the backcourt, to move on to the Sweet 16.