NCAA Tournament 2011: Power Ranking the 10 Most Dangerous Teams
Today is the big day.
The day that starts with an empty sheet and 68 names and finishes with just one above the rest.
When filling out your brackets, there is one thing you can take for certain. Upsets will happen.
Where those upsets will occur is the question everyone wants to know.
Whether you rely on research, your instincts, sleepers, favorites or on pure guts, you need a strategy for filling out your bracket.
Before you fill out your bracket, give a minute to think about these 10 teams who could shake things up.
Here are the 10 most dangerous teams to play come next week.
10. Michigan Wolverines
A big part of having a good team for The Big Dance is having momentum going into it. Michigan has done just that.
They have beaten Michigan State and Illinois within the last week.
Not only did they beat Michigan State last week, they have beaten the Spartans in both matchups this year.
Michigan has also been on the wrong end of close games, which may or may not be a good thing.
They lost to Kansas in overtime, Ohio State twice by four and nine points, respectively, Syracuse by three, Wisconsin by one and Illinois by two.
Now, even though they did lose all of those close games, the experience is there.
Michigan also has the three-point shooters to take control of games.
Michigan will play like Wolverines or kitties in this year's NCAA tournament.
9. Texas A&M Aggies
The Texas A&M Aggies have quietly flown under the radar all season long.
They play a smart brand of basketball and won't blow anyone out of the gym with highlight reel plays.
The Aggies have beaten Kansas State, Washington and Missouri twice so far this year. They lost to Kansas and Texas each time they played this year, but that experience should help down the road.
Not a lot of people like to give A&M tons of credit for their work, which may be justifiable. They are somewhat like the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA and won't wow anyone on their way to victory.
Texas A&M is an easy team for many schools to overlook come tourney time, which would be a huge mistake.
The Aggies are sneaky smart and will do their best to show everyone that in the first round. Don't be surprised if A&M completes an upset or two; they are more than capable.
8. Florida State Seminoles
The Seminoles are a half-court, defensive-minded team heading into the tournament.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the 'Noles lost their best player, Chris Singleton, to a fractured foot. Fortunately for the Seminoles, he is ready to make his return.
Singleton was rumored to be ready for the last game the 'Noles played versus Virginia Tech, but never made it in the game.
Any time a team returns their leading scorer and rebounder just in time for the tourney, they are more than dangerous.
FSU has even displayed their ability to beat the big-time teams.
They took down No.1 Duke at home this year and came one buzzer-beating shot away from beating UNC as well.
If I'm a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, I don't want anything to do with the Seminoles in the second round.
7. Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee is about as off-and-on as they come.
They are more than capable of beating anyone, and more than capable of losing to whomever.
Tennessee took down Big East powers Pittsburgh and Villanova in the first part of the year. They followed those performances up, however, with losses to Charlotte, College of Charleston and Oakland all within a couple of weeks.
This type of streakiness shows that Tennessee is simply unpredictable.
Scotty Hopson is a guy that can light it up with a turn of a switch and needs to do so if Tennessee wants to get past the second round.
Tennessee is a definite boom-or-bust candidate and will most likely face a top seed if they can advance past the first round.
6. Richmond Spiders
Outside of BYU, the smaller conference teams get no love.
Richmond will show they are ready to play with the big boys.
The Spiders snuck up on Purdue in non-conference play, taking down the Boilermakers by 11 points at home.
Richmond is led by seniors Justin Harper and Kevin Anderson, so the experience will be there for sure.
The Spiders are currently on a six-game winning streak, and only one team came within 10 points.
If your looking for a mid-major team outside of BYU, the Richmond Spiders are where you need to look.
5. Missouri Tigers
Missouri head coach Mike Anderson is known for his "40 minutes of hell" style of coaching for his team. If you're playing against Missouri, that's the best way to describe what you're about to get into.
A huge part of winning in the big dance is coaching, and Anderson is trying to take advantage of that.
Missouri doesn't stop running and will exploit you if you try to slow it down.
The Tigers won't blow you away with impressive wins, but it's all about the postseason, right?
Junior guard Marcus Denmon leads the Tigers and can give teams fits on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
Take a long hard look at your bracket, and if Missouri is matched up against a slower team in the first or second round, don't second-guess yourself.
4. Michigan State Spartans
There is nothing untrue about saying that Michigan State has been very disappointing this year.
That aside, Michigan State is still in the tournament and has a couple of big wins to build on. They have beaten Purdue, Wisconsin and Washington so far this year.
They have plenty of bad losses, but haven't lost to a non-tourney team in over a month.
Michigan State also started the year as a top Five team, which means the talent is there.
Tom Izzo is a great coach and is very experienced in the big dance.
Just a few years ago, Michigan State went all the way to the title game. Even though they were blown out, the Spartans still have several players left from that team.
Don't be surprised if Izzo can convince his team to forget the regular season and get their mindset ready for the NCAA tournament.
3. Kansas State Wildcats
Like Michigan State, the Wildcats of Kansas State came into the season a bit over-hyped.
Kansas State was a preseason top Five team and didn't stay there for long.
However, Kansas State is talented enough to play like a top Five team when they choose.
The Wildcats have won six of their last seven and have taken down Kansas, Texas and Missouri in that run.
Adding to their case, they have a definite game-changer. Jacob Pullen can straight up take over the game.
If you don't believe me, watch the tape from when Pullen lit up the Kansas Jayhawks at home. He creates his own shot, knocks down open jumpers and does a good job of getting teammates involved when he needs to.
The fact that no one knows which Kansas State team will come out is scary, making them very dangerous along the way.
2. Louisville Cardinals
Another team that has come on strong recently, Louisville is quietly becoming a force in college basketball.
Points leader Preston Knowles is a big-shot type of guy. Point guard Peyton Siva is a developing stud, whose scoring ability is underestimated.
Big-game experience matters in the big dance, and the Cardinals have it. Louisville has won six of their last eight and has taken down top seeds like UConn, Pitt and Notre Dame along the way.
I realize that Louisville is likely looking at a higher seed, but that doesn't mean they aren't really dangerous.
They have the explosive ability to bust a game wide open at any time.
Don't be surprised if Louisville can bust the brackets wide open and win their region along the way.
1. Arizona Wildcats
There are a few reasons why Arizona is a team to be reckoned with.
First, Arizona plays in the Pac-10. You might be saying, "the Pac-10 is weak, why should that matter?" and that's a good point.
However, the Pac-10 gets little coverage compared to the ACC and Big East, so they are often overlooked and undervalued.
Second, 'Zona has top-Five draft talent in Derrick Williams. This is a guy who has a big chance to make or break his draft stock, and his play will be under a microscope the whole time.
Third, with the attention turned to Williams, the role players will have a big chance to step up. Lamont Jones, Solomon Hill and Kyle Fogg need to answer the true test that is the big dance.
With an overall weaker field this year, teams with a stud like Williams are very capable of making a big impact.
Watch out for these Wildcats, since Williams has some serious work to do.