Is this year's March Madness great or what?
Plenty of amazing upsets, surprising comebacks and a wide variety of star players that have made the 2013 NCAA tournament exceptional.
Unlike most years, there still isn't a clear favorite to cut down the nets. And, with the way that this season and tourney has gone, everyone legitimately has a chance to make some noise.
Odds to Win It All: 50-1
Difficulty of Path: Most people never even gave Florida Gulf Coast a chance to get out of the opening round. Now, they will play cross-state rival Florida in the Sweet 16. It’s all good.
Reason to Buy: On paper, the Eagles cannot match up with Florida. They couldn’t with Georgetown either...
Reason to Sell: Unless you just need to abandon this year’s Cinderella, I’d hold on to the newcomers and enjoy the journey.
Could Cut Down the Nets If: Team of destiny? FGC is putting a new level of freshness in this year’s March Madness.
Odds to Win It All: 45-1
Difficulty of Path: La Salle has a far better chance of continuing its historical run now that the West region has exploded. The Explorers face No. 9 seed Wichita State in the Sweet 16.
Reason to Buy: The Explorers are fighters. They scrambled to get through the Atlantic 10 and had to win their way in through a First Four win over Boise State.
Reason to Sell: La Salle may be the weakest rebounding team remaining in the tournament. If you can’t work the glass, you are in bad shape.
Could Cut Down the Nets If: Mayhem and chaos rule.
Odds to Win It All: 30-1
Difficulty of Path: Unfortunately for the Pac-12 tourney champs, Oregon’s next game is against No. 1 seed Louisville. If some miracle takes place and the Ducks beat the Cards, they would then face the winner of Michigan State vs. Duke. Oh, boy!
Reason to Buy: Oregon has been exceeding everyone’s expectations all year. Could the Ducks possibly carry over that same underdog mojo into the Midwest semis in Indy?
Could Cut Down the Nets If: Louisville gets held up at the Kentucky/Indiana state line and doesn’t make it to Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday.
Odds to Win It All: 25-1
Difficulty of Path: What’s ahead of the Shockers is less menacing than what they’ve already come through. Because the West is mostly blown to smithereens, there is a great opportunity for the Shockers to make some further noise.
Reason to Buy: Wichita State’s opening two games have been nothing short of amazing. The Shockers smothered both Pitt and Gonzaga on D, holding both to 35 percent shooting.
Reason to Sell: As impressive as the Shockers have been so far in March, they have also had stretches of inconsistency, leading to surprising losses.
Could Cut Down the Nets If: They take everything one game at a time. It would still be sensational to get even to the Final Four.
Odds to Win It All: 20-1
Difficulty of Path: Marquette faces a daunting path to the Final Four in the East. It first hits ACC champion Miami, and if it gets past the ‘Canes, it will line up against the winner of the Syracuse/Indiana battle. Brutal.
Reason to Buy: The Golden Eagles don’t have any quit in them. They did everything they needed to do to come from behind in their first two March Madness games. Marquette was down at the half by two against Davidson and eight against Butler.
Reason to Sell: The Golden Eagles are only an average rebounding team. They are getting ready to play some board-crashing, glass-cleaning teams that will control missed shots at both ends of the court.
Could Cut Down the Nets If: They play near-perfect games from here on out. The Final Four might be an easier challenge than getting out of the East region.
Odds to Win It All: 15-1
Difficulty of Path: Because the Orange will face No. 1 seed Indiana right off the bat in the East semis, Syracuse obviously faces an immediate and intimidating test. If (and that’s a huge if) the Orange advance to the Elite Eight, they will most likely have to get past Miami to book their trip to the ATL.
Reason to Buy: The Orange’s fabled 2-3 zone is shutting down opponents from beyond the arc. Montana and Cal shot a combined 8-of-52 (15.4 percent) from distance. On the year, Syracuse is No. 6 in the nation in three-point FG defense, holding teams to 28.9 percent.
Reason to Sell: Syracuse is in trouble if it gets in a close game and has to hit free throws down the stretch. On the season, the Orange are hitting only 67.5 percent. Jim Boeheim’s bunch had 41 attempts from the line against Cal but only hit 26 of them (63.4 percent)
Could Cut Down the Nets If: From here on out, they do not have any more 12-minute field-goal droughts like they had against Cal.
Odds to Win It All: 15-1
Difficulty of Path: Arizona's route to Atlanta goes straight through Big Ten champion Ohio State. If the Wildcats get past the Buckeyes, Sean Miller’s squad has an awfully good chance to head to the Final Four for the first time since U of A played in the national title game in 2001.
Reason to Buy: Arizona’s scoring PG Mark Lyons is playing his best basketball since showing up in Tucson last summer. The 6’1" graduate senior is a gamer, averaging 25 points per game in the Cats' opening two games.
Reason to Sell: In the second half of the season, the Cats didn’t always handle success well. After winning a game or two, they surprisingly turned around and dropped a game or two.
Could Cut Down the Nets If: They keep producing like they have in their first two tournament games: with tough play on both ends of the court. They look like they have rediscovered their early-season mojo.
Odds to Win It All: 12-1
Difficulty of Path: The Spartans may have one of the toughest routes to the ATL. First, MSU faces Duke in the Midwest semis. If they can knock off Coach K, they will have to do battle against Louisville in the Elite Eight. Ouch!
Reason to Buy: Michigan State’s Tom Izzo may be the best possession-to-possession head coach in the collegiate game. His teams are always extremely prepared, and they grind on both ends of the court.
Reason to Sell: Even though the Spartans battle like few teams in the country, they were only 3-6 against Top 25 teams this season.
Could Cut Down the Nets If: They turn every game into a slow-paced battle that neutralizes their opponents' elite-level talent.
Odds to Win It All: 10-1
Difficulty of Path: The Wolverines will face No. 1 seed Kansas in the Sweet 16. If they advance, Michigan will have to face Florida. Not exactly a walk in the park.
Reason to Sell: With all of the talent on this Wolverine team, they were 5-5 down the stretch in the regular season. Michigan struggles with teams of size and bulk.
Could Cut Down the Nets If: The Wolverines leverage their outstanding slashers and perimeter scorers. They’ll have a tough time getting out of the South region.
Odds to Win It All: 9-1
Difficulty of Path: Miami has had nothing given to it this year. The ACC champs will have to do work by beating Marquette and then would face the winner of the Indiana/Syracuse throwdown.
Reason to Buy: The Canes have both outside skills and inside power. Shane Larkin, one of the best floor leaders in the nation, forcefully leads Miami’s attack.
Reason to Sell: At times, Miami looks mixed up on offense, depending way too much on Larkin’s ability to penetrate and create.
Could Cut Down the Nets If: They play their well-disciplined game, letting the action come to them and taking advantage of their balanced scoring.
Odds to Win It All: 8-1
Difficulty of Path: Florida has the most unique Sweet 16 matchup because they play this year’s Cinderella, Florida Gulf Coast. Assuming that the Gators shut down the Eagles, they will then have the winner of Kansas/Michigan.
Reason to Buy: The Gators have been a high-octane, offensive-oriented program for years. Billy Donovan’s squad has added a top-rated defense (No. 5 in FG percentage defense) to their arsenal this year.
Reason to Sell: In the last month of the season, Florida let four winnable road games slip away. They didn’t mean much, but they do show their capacity for distraction.
Could Cut Down the Nets If: Everyone stays healthy, plays aggressively and stays focused. Donovan and the Gators could win the school's third NCAA title.
Odds to Win It All: 7-1
Difficulty of Path: Ohio State's track to the Final Four isn’t nearly as alarming as it was a few days ago. The Buckeyes' biggest challenge to get to Atlanta is their next opponent, Arizona.
Reason to Buy: Deshaun Thomas is one of the most dynamic scorers in college basketball. His ability to create his own shots and score points in bunches puts Ohio State in any game.
Reason to Sell: Thomas is the only Ohio State player who is averaging double-figure scoring. As such, the Buckeyes are vulnerable to a shrewd defensive strategy that takes the Big Ten’s leading scorer out of the game.
Could Cut Down the Nets If: The Buckeyes keep playing with the kind of force and passion that they have been playing with since before the Big Ten tournament.
Odds to Win It All: 6-1
Difficulty of Path: Duke did not get a free pass by being placed in the Midwest. The Blue Devils will face Michigan State next and then, should they advance, stare down No. 1 seed Louisville.
Reason to Buy: The Blue Devils are one of the most offensively talented and experienced teams in the tournament. All five of their starters average in double figures and can take a lead scoring role if need be.
Reason to Sell: When Ryan Kelly is not playing up to par, Duke is vulnerable. After a miracle return performance against Miami, Kelly has played cautiously.
Could Cut Down the Nets If: The Blue Devils are firing on all cylinders offensively.
Odds to Win It All: 6-1
Difficulty of Path: Kansas will have to continue to play at an extremely high level to make it through the South gauntlet. No. 4 seed Michigan is up first, with No. 3 Florida potentially looming in the Elite Eight.
Reason to Buy: The Jayhawks start four talented and experienced seniors. Last year’s runners-up are No. 1 in field-goal percentage defense (35.9 percent) and No. 2 in blocked shots (6.7 per game)—an excellent postseason combo.
Reason to Sell: Bill Self’s bench is extremely short if KU gets into foul or injury trouble. Freshman Perry Ellis is the only reserve big that the Jayhawks can count on.
Could Cut Down the Nets If: The Jayhawks take full advantage of their size, skills and experience. They were close last year and have the horses to get it done this year.
Odds to Win It All: 4-1
Difficulty of Path: Indiana will take on a long and athletic Syracuse squad in the East region. If the Hoosiers advance, they will most likely have to face Miami in the Elite Eight. There are no easy paths to Atlanta.
Reason to Sell: Not many reasons to discard IU. The Hoosiers' biggest flaw has been in allowing games and leads to get away from them.
Could Cut Down the Nets If: They consistently and aggressively play 40 minutes of Indiana basketball in every upcoming game.
Odds to Win It All: 3-1
Difficulty of Path: Louisville should be able to dispatch the Oregon Ducks without a great deal of difficulty. The potential Elite Eight matchup with Duke will pit the Cards against the only team that they lost to in the first two months of the season.
Reason to Buy: The Cardinals are the hottest team in the NCAA tournament. They are riding some serious “mo," having won 12 straight games (including a clean sweep of the Big East tourney).
Reason to Sell: In the back of a few fans’ minds, the Cardinals still have to prove that they can sustain offensive output from here on out. Defense alone will not win the 2013 championship
Could Cut Down the Nets If: They stay focused and don’t lose their nastiness and sharpness.