NCAA Bracket 2014: Risky Top-Seeded Teams That Will Fall Early

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NCAA Bracket 2014: Risky Top-Seeded Teams That Will Fall Early
Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Upsets are bound to happen during the NCAA tournament ever year, and there are a few risky top-seeded team's in this year's tourney that will be exiting the Big Dance earlier than they would like.

Unlike most seasons, this year's NCAA tournament doesn't appear to have any go-to favorites to win it all, as the field is wide open for anyone to step up. There's still plenty of talent and stars to watch for, but so many teams have been so inconsistent this year that it makes filling out a bracket even harder than usual.

There are a few top-seeded teams with some question marks headed into the Big Dance, so let's take a look at some of them and break down why they will likely be leaving the tournament early.

 

All Your Bracket Essentials

You can view the official NCAA bracket here

 

No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks

Even though the Kansas Jayhawks have some of the most talented freshmen in the country, they may be in serious trouble in the first week of play.

The Jayhawks lost Joel Embiid at the beginning of March and have gone just 2-3 since, with losses to Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Iowa State. According to KUAthletics.com, the Jayhawks will likely be without their freshman center for the first couple of rounds of the tournament, saying:

Based on the attending physician's examination of Embiid, combined with his extensive experience with the common basketball injury, the specialist confirmed the original stress fracture prognosis he received in Lawrence. His current treatments have Embiid in the middle of the healing process, which renders him unavailable for the Big 12 Championship and unlikely to play in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
 
"Based on that, this weekend (in the Big 12 Championship) is out," Self said. "Next weekend, we feel like is a longshot, but the doctors are hopeful that if Joel works hard in rehab and progresses that it is possible that he could play in the later rounds of the NCAA Tournament if our team is fortunate enough to advance."

That's not what the Jayhawks were hoping to hear, as now teams will be looking to take them down while they're without Embiid. Eastern Kentucky enters the tournament on a seven-game win streak, and the team can score from all over the floor, shooting 49 percent on the year.

Even if the Colonels can't take down Kansas, the Jayhawks will have to be worried about taking on either New Mexico or Stanford, as both teams have been able to take down some big names currently playing in the tournament. 

Until the Jayhawks can get Embiid back, they're going to have a very big target on their backs.

 

No. 3 Syracuse Orange

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange have looked like a completely different team over the past month, and they have a ton of questions that they will need to answer as the tournament gets ready to start up.

After starting the season with a perfect 25-0 record, the Orange looked like a lock to be a No. 1 seed in the tournament. Instead, they ended up going 2-5 to end the year with head-turning losses against Boston College and Georgia Tech. Because of that late-season slump, the Orange are now dealing with a No. 3 seed instead of a No. 1.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Boeheim's team enters the tournament in the middle of a cold streak, and that's the opposite of what they want as the Big Dance gets started. They'll have one game to quickly try to get going again against Western Michigan, but after that, they will likely have to play the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes have just as tough of a defense as the Orange do, giving up only 59.8 points per game with opponents shooting 40.5 percent and 29.4 percent from behind the arc. As Adam Beasley from the Miami Herald points out, a matchup between these two teams could result in a low-scoring affair:

Having Aaron Craft on Tyler Ennis is the last thing a struggling Orange team needs, and it could be that matchup that ends up sending the Orange home in the round of 32.

 

No. 1 Wichita State Shockers

Despite going 34-0 and being the first team since 1991 to go undefeated entering the tournament, the Wichita Shockers could be in big trouble early in the Midwest Region.

Which No. 1 seed will lose first?

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The Shockers beat every team they played, but their strength of schedule was less than impressive, playing just one team currently ranked in the AP Top 25 in St. Louis. They've been a great team throughout the year, but the Shockers got an up-close look at an overhyped mid-major team last year in the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who they beat in the round of 32 last year.

Along with the fact that they've yet to play top-tier opponents, the Shockers will also be playing in arguably the toughest region in the Midwest, where Michigan, Duke and Louisville round out the top four seeds. The Shockers could even have trouble in their second game if the Kentucky Wildcats advance, as John Calipari's squad is littered with young talent with plenty of potential.

It's tough to say who will survive out of the Midwest, but it's hard to believe that Wichita State will make it very far, as there's a good chance that the Shockers are the first No. 1 seed to lose.

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