NCAA Bracket 2011 Predictions: 10 Teams Who Will Advance Further Than You Think

Brett Appley@@BrettAppleyCorrespondent IMarch 14, 2011

NCAA Bracket 2011 Predictions: 10 Teams Who Will Advance Further Than You Think

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    Selection Sunday has finally arrived, and it couldn't have come any sooner.

    As usual, the selection committee did a pretty good job with designing the bracket. Saint Mary's, Virginia Tech and Colorado might be considered the biggest snubs of the tournament, but regardless, there is still a bracket that needs to be filled out.

    Before you fill out your bracket, advancing all No. 1 seeds into the Final Four, take a look at which teams will advance further than you think.

No. 10: Washington Huskies

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    The Washington Huskies are riding hot as they enter the NCAA tournament.

    Isaiah Thomas won the Pac-10 tournament for the Huskies with a brilliant buzzer-beater against Arizona. Their first-round match is against Georgia, who probably shouldn't even be in the tournament field.

    If they can get past the Bulldogs, Washington will face North Carolina in the next round. You may be surprised, but Washington will probably give UNC a run for its money in that game.

    North Carolina has absolutely no experience coming into the tournament, and Washington has a bunch of seniors who could really prove themselves this year.

No. 9: Richmond Spiders

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    Unless you're a big college basketball fan, you probably don't know much about Richmond.

    The Spiders won the A-10 conference tournament but were still given a 12th seed in the Southwest region. In the first round Richmond will face Vanderbilt, which has struggled at times and may very well be susceptible to a first-round upset.

No. 8: Villanova Wildcats

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    For some reason, people seem to be chalking this up as a George Mason victory without too much consideration.

    Although the Wildcats have played poorly as of late, they still have a tremendous amount of talent on their roster with veterans Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes.

    Jay Wright usually gets his teams ready for the NCAA tournament, and not only can Villanova advance past the first round, they may give Ohio State some trouble as well.

No. 7: Purdue Boilermakers

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    As a No. 3 seed in the Southwest region, Purdue will have to get past Notre Dame and Kansas if it wants to advance to the Final Four.

    Impossible? I don't think so.

    Purdue has been preparing for a team as good as this for years now, and it won't be an easy team to take out. Although it did lose early in the Big Ten conference tournament, Purdue definitely has the skills to make a run at Houston.

No. 6: Belmont Bruins

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    Another team who not many people know a lot about, Belmont is scheduled to face No. 4 seed Wisconsin in their first match.

    Belmont has a record of 30-4 this season, which is one of the best in all of college basketball. The Bruins are a very balanced team that is second in the nation in three-pointers.

    If Wisconsin isn't careful, it might fall victim to the charms of Cinderella.

No. 5: Marquette Golden Eagles

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    As a No. 11 seed, Marquette will face Xavier in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

    Marquette is one of 11 teams who made the tournament from the Big East, and it will have the advantage of playing an overrated mid-major.

    Don't be surprised if Marquette knocks off Xavier with ease and plays a tough game against Syracuse in the second round.

No. 4: Texas Longhorns

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    Texas is vastly underrated as a No. 4 seed, having already beaten Kansas and North Carolina this season.

    The Longhorns play a tough team in Oakland in their first game but shouldn't really have too much trouble advancing to the second week.

    Duke and Texas look as if they are on a crash course to meet in the Sweet 16, and although Duke has played well this season, the Longhorns could easily upset the Blue Devils. If Texas can get past them, there is no telling how far it can go.

No. 3: St. John's Red Storm

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    St. John's has already beaten Duke, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh this year and probably has about as impressive a résumé as any team in the nation.

    Assuming they gets past Gonzaga in the first round, the Red Storm should match up against BYU and talented guard Jimmer Fredette.

    BYU is another team that is overrated, in my opinion, and it hasn't played nearly as well without suspended forward Brandon Davies. St. John's has the talent to get past BYU, and potentially Florida, which lost by 16 to Kentucky on Sunday.

No. 2: UConn Huskies

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    Kemba Walker was a beast in the Big East conference tournament this past week.

    He helped UConn earn a No. 3 seed in the West region and may lead it far beyond that.

    Duke, San Diego State and Texas are the main targets the Huskies would have to get past to advance to the Final Four, but after their showing against Syracuse and Pittsburgh, anything is possible.

    In fact, if UConn plays as well as it can, it very well may end up arriving in Houston.

No. 1: Kentucky Wildcats

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    Kentucky has been absolutely destroying teams the last few weeks, and it won the SEC tournament with ease, beating Florida by 16 in the finals Sunday.

    Somehow, it was only awarded a No. 4 seed by the committee and will likely have to face Ohio State in the Sweet 16 if it comes down to it.

    Although the Wildcats are led entirely by freshmen, they have no shortage of talent.

    DO NOT sleep on Kentucky.

    They have a legitimate chance in this tournament, and Ohio State hasn't looked too great in the past few games. Kentucky will upset the Buckeyes and advance all the way to the Final Four.