NCAA Brackets 2013: Biggest Surprises from Tournament Action So Far

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NCAA Brackets 2013: Biggest Surprises from Tournament Action So Far
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The NCAA tournament is nothing if not full of surprises.

The 2013 edition of March Madness was no exception to that theory, highlighted by the largest number of 12th-seeded or higher teams (three) making it to the Sweet 16 (Florida Gulf Coast, La Salle and Oregon).

Aside from the obvious upsets, big shots and disappointing moments, there have been plenty of other surprises in this year's Big Dance. Several coaches (UCLA's Ben Howland and Minnesota's Tubby Smith) have been fired because of their teams' performances, while another (New Mexico's Steve Alford) is leaving to go to another school entirely.

If there's one word we could use to describe this season in college basketball, crazy would fit the bill.

In that spirit, check out five of the biggest surprises from the 2013 tournament below. While it might not have been the outcome you expected (and certainly ruined your bracket), this year has personified March Madness as a whole.

 

Temple Guard Khalif Wyatt

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Barring a set of huge games from someone on the six remaining teams, Wyatt will go down as the leading per-game scorer in March.

He averaged 31.0 points per game in Temple's two-game tournament run this season, scoring the number in a second-round win over North Carolina State before showing out big again against Indiana in the round of 32.

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Behind Wyatt's inspired play (he scored 31 of the team's 52 points) the Owls almost managed to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament.

As it is, he'll go down as a lover of the bright lights and a fringe NBA prospect because of his efforts in March. USA Today's Nicole Auerbach called him one of the nation's best after a two-game stint as the leading scorer, and Wyatt could pop up again at the next level if he continues to evolve his game.

 

Florida Gulf Coast and Dunk City

It's crazy to think Florida Gulf Coast won just two tournament games.

After beating Georgetown and San Diego State before losing to Florida in the Sweet 16, it seems more like 20.

That's what happens when you're the first-ever No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16, have guys like Bernard Thompson, Sherwood Brown and Brett Comer playing unconscious and get the name Dunk City tagged on all of your tournament highlights.

The magic ended against in-state competitor Florida on Friday night, but it will live on in the minds and hearts of those who caught any of FGCU's first two tournament wins. History is usually made each year in March, and the Eagles made it happen in a fun and exciting way for every college basketball fan.

 

Mountain West Flops

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It's crazy to think this after the fact, but the Mountain West sent five teams—New Mexico, UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State and Boise State—to the 68-team field.

The record? 2-5.

The losses? No. 14 Harvard, No. 12 California, No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast, No. 1 Louisville and No. 13 La Salle, respectively.

Not exactly a glowing recommendation for incoming talent, huh?

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Led by No. 3 New Mexico, the Mountain West was supposed to be a basketball powerhouse this season. Many of the teams in the tournament spent time in the AP Top 25 poll, and brackets everywhere trusted that the Mountain West was a true test of what the conference as a whole could do in March.

Wrong.

The only two teams that did get wins (San Diego State over No. 10 Oklahoma and Colorado State over No. 9 Missouri), got bounced in the second round—by that time the rest of the conference had already been eliminated from play.

After Oregon and Arizona both made it to the Sweet 16 and felt disrespected with their seeds from the selection committee, it's clear that the Mountain West was way overvalued, a move that opened the door for the Pac-12 to re-assert itself in March.

 

The West Region

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Speaking of the West, the region in this year's tournament bracket was probably the one that messed your bracket up the most.

Five upsets occurred in the second round, making for an interesting-looking bracket at best going forward. Mountain West champ New Mexico bowed out to Harvard in the second round in the most shocking defeat, while La Salle moved past Kansas State and Iowa State stunned Notre Dame.

The big story from the West, though, is Wichita State.

The Shockers clinched a Final Four berth with wins over the No. 1 and No. 2 teams (Gonzaga and Ohio State) in the region, and did so behind one of the most-balanced attacks we've seen on offense in the tournament so far.

Malcolm Armstead took home West Region honors as the Most Outstanding Player, someone I'm sure you all had taking that trophy home when the tournament started. While the Midwest, South and East have all played out with their own surprises, the West has been largely unpredictable.

We'll see if Wichita State can keep that trend going as it prepares to take on the winner of Sunday's matchup between Midwest No. 1 Louisville and No. 2 Duke.

 

Mitch McGary's Coming Out Party

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Mitch McGary is playing his way into Michigan lore.

Heck, he might be playing his way into tournament lore.

After starting just two games (against Michigan State and Illinois) during the regular season, McGary's insertion into the starting lineup by John Beilein was a bit of a surprise.

Don't look now, but it's been the key to Michigan's continued success in March.

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After posting a near double-double in Michigan's second-round win over South Dakota State, McGary has left no doubt in his last two performances. He averaged 23 points and 14 rebounds in wins over VCU and Kansas, and made a few key baskets down the stretch to keep Kansas from moving on to the Elite Eight on Friday night.

Needless to say, that kind of effort gets you noticed on a national scale, especially when three of your teammates (Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III) are all likely heading for the NBA ranks next season.

We'll see if McGary brings the same kind of success against Erik Murphy, Patric Young and the Florida Gators on Sunday afternoon, but his success against three high-quality NCAA programs has been one of the biggest surprises of the tournament so far.

No doubt more are to come.

 

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