Just because a team is granted a top seed in the NCAA tournament doesn’t necessarily mean that it is guaranteed to make a deep run.
Sometimes, a weak regular season schedule covers up the vulnerabilities of a team. Other times, a horrible draw could result in more trouble than a team could handle.
Needless to say, every year there tends to be those top-ranked teams that tap out early.
But before we get to who’s on upset alert, let’s take another look at the bracket.
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West: No. 1 Arizona (30-4)
The Wildcats are a popular pick to win it all. They certainly have the resume and talent to pull off the feat.
However, the draw hasn’t done the team any favors.
In the second round, Arizona will face off with either Gonzaga or Oklahoma State. The former only has six losses on the season and was a No. 1 seed just a year ago while the latter is a team once ranked inside the Top 10 this season.
Most likely, it will be the Cowboys that will emerge as the Wildcats second-round opponent.
According to CBS Sports’ Seth Davis, that could be a problem:
Oklahoma State is gonna be a dangerous matchup for Arizona. Cowboys don't have much size but they are super tough.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 16, 2014
Winners of five of its last seven games, Oklahoma State could pose some matchup problems for Arizona. With a trio of guards that could breakout in Marcus Smart (17.8 PPG), Markel Brown (17.1 PPG) and Phil Forte (13.3), the Cowboys light up the scoreboard with the best of them—No. 16 in the nation in points per game (80.3).
Then there’s the Wildcats’ recent slide, having lost two of their last four games, including the Pac-12 tournament title game to UCLA.
If the team doesn’t pick up the slack soon, it could be heading for the exit sooner than it would like.
South: No. 3 Syracuse (27-5)
After a 25-0 start, the Orange have crumbled.
Since then, the team has gone 2-5. Over that stretch, Syracuse has suffered some questionable losses to the likes of Boston College, Georgia Tech and North Carolina State.
To make matters worse, the team has struggled to put the ball in the hoop, failing to top 63 points in 10 of the last 11 games.
But head coach Jim Boeheim doesn’t seem to worried about the slump.
“I’m not concerned about our team,” he said, per ESPN. “I think we’ve struggled shooting, and I think that’s pretty well-documented. But in spite of that, we won 27 games, so I’m pretty pleased with what these guys have done, and I believe we’ll be a very good tournament team.”
With No. 6 Ohio State looming in the second round, what began as a promising season could be over before the Orange know it. Heck, their first-round matchup against Western Michigan shouldn’t be taken lightly either.
The Broncos have won 12 of their last 13 games heading into the matchup. Furthermore, guard David Brown and center Shayne Whittington are getting hot at just the right time.
Brown has poured in 22.5 points over the last eight games while Whittington has netted 21.1 points in that same span.
If Syracuse can get past Western Michigan, the Buckeyes won’t be any easier. The team has won six of its last nine and ranks No. 12 in points allowed (59.8 PPG).
It’s going to be a tough March for the Orange.
Midwest: No. 1 Wichita State (34-0)
It’s hard to look past the Shockers 34-0 record.
The team has relied on great play on both sides of the ball—No. 63 in points per game and No. 11 in points allowed—to get to this point. Not to mention, Wichita State has rarely had to sweat, with just one opponent coming within nine points all season.
Then again, the team has yet to face a single Top-25 opponent.
That could change as early as the second round.
No. 8 seed Kentucky—ranked No. 22 in the Coaches’ Poll—is a potential second-round opponent. And although the team has lost four of its last seven, the Wildcats most recently played Florida to within a point in the SEC tournament finals over the weekend.
Kentucky’s first-round opponent, Kansas State, is another team that could pose a threat.
The team may have stumbled down the gate, but the Wildcats have added a list of ranked opponents to its victims this season. The list includes Gonzaga, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas and Texas.
Did we mention that defending champion Louisville is a potential Sweet 16 opponent?
Things could get rough for the Shockers.