March Madness 2011 Predictions: Ranking the Top 10 Bracket Busters

Gary SuggContributor IIMarch 15, 2011

March Madness 2011 Predictions: Ranking the Top 10 Bracket Busters

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    Arguably the most exciting month on the sports calendar is upon us.

    It's time to fill out your brackets, pop the corn, sit back in the recliner and get ready to witness the climax of the college basketball season.

    Year after year, only a few analysts even come close to perfecting the art of the March Madness predictions, because this is the NCAA Tournament—where anything can happen.

    Here are 10 teams that should not be easy to cross off early from your tournament bracket.

10. No. 9 Seed: Tennessee

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    It would be an understatement to claim that Tennessee's season has been a rollercoaster. 

    Between the suspension of head coach Bruce Pearl, the frequent winning and losing streaks throughout the season, the Volunteers could have been placed absolutely anywhere on this year's bracket.

    But a No. 9 seed?

    Given that the unpredictability of Tennessee's performance is a major concern, with seniors Melvin Goins and Brian Williams, I don't see Tennessee going down easy to Michigan in the first round.

9. No. 12 Seed: Clemson

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    After getting off to a rocky start, the Clemson Tigers have been playing great basketball as of late, topping of their performances with a thrilling overtime game with North Carolina in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.

    In that game against the Tar Heels, Demontez Stitt had 25 points and led the Tigers to a 14-point lead.  However the Heels, with Harrison Barnes' 40 points, proved to be too much in the end.

    This game showed us that not only are the Tigers playing the best basketball of their season, they are playing it against the toughest teams in the league, earning wins against Michigan and Florida State.

    It wouldn't be a surprise to see Clemson not only get past UAB but take over West Virginia in the first round this year.

8. No. 12 Seed: Utah State

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    The myth of the No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchups. 

    In NCAA tournament history, the No. 12 has upset the No. 5 team 66.3 percent of the time, this year Utah State is looking to keep that myth alive.

    With only three losses on the season, the Aggies will have their hands full with Kansas State.  If the Aggies manage to squeak by the Wildcats, look for them to give Pitt a run for their money in the Sweet 16 matchup.

7. No. 4 Seed: Louisville

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    Coming off a great Big East Tournament run, including an OT victory over Notre Dame, the Cardinals are on the radar to make a run in this year's Madness.

    The Cardinals have recorded notable wins throughout the season over Syracuse, Notre Dame and UConn.

    This Louisville team can beat Kansas. 

6. No. 3 Seed: Connecticut

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    Kemba Walker—arguably the best player the NCAA basketball.

    Coming off a buzzer-beater jump shot to win the Big East Conference Tournament, Walker is hitting his hot streak and is ready to take on the NCAA's best.

    The only downside to the Huskie offense—all but Kemba Walker.

    UConn will need another player to step up.  Jeremy Lamb and Alex Oriakhi have had breakout games throughout the season but need to play well in order for this team to bust brackets. 

5. No. 13 Seed: Belmont

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    After winning the A-Sun Conference outright and a 12-day rest period, the Belmont Bruins are ready for their first-round matchup with the Wisconsin Badgers.

    The Bruins only have four losses on the season, all being within nine points or less.

    The Bruins are faced with a tough early schedule. If victorious over the Badgers, they would then face the winner of the Kansas State - Utah State game.

    Not a favorite to win either, the Bruins could have a few tricks up their sleeve being able to pull of a couple upsets early on.

4. No. 14 Seed: Wofford

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    Considering the fact that BYU could lose in their first game of the NCAA tournament is unthinkable. 

    Then again—anything can happen.

    The Wofford Terriers have won their last eight games, topping it off with their second straight Southern Conference Championship and have picked the best time to go on a hot-streak.

    Noah Dahlman is averaging 20 ppg and could pose problems for Jimmer Fredette and the Cougars in the first round.

3. No. 6 Seed: Xavier

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    Rebuilding year?

    Think again.

    Led by the A-10 player of the year Tu Holloway, the Xavier Musketeers won the A-10 Conference Regular Season Championship.

    Marquette will be a tough matchup for the Musketeers, but if they prevail in their tournament opener, they could make a decent run.

2. No. 2 Seed: North Carolina

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    Starting off the season with a No. 8 national ranking, the Tar Heels are living up to the hype as of late.

    Harrison Barnes is beginning to play at the high-caliber level that was initially expected, averaging 19 ppg in the last three games.

    In the ACC Tournament, the Heels got off to rocky starts in all three games and weren't able to make another comeback against Duke in the finals.

    If Roy Williams can get his boys to start playing hard from the tip-off, look for the Heels to go deep.

1. No. 10 Seed: Florida State

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    Chris Singleton is one of the most underrated players in college basketball.

    Hence, Florida State is one of the most underrated teams in the NCAA.

    Playing better as of late, the Seminoles experienced a heartbreaking loss against Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament.

    Somewhat inconsistent with the level of intensity, March Madness will bring out the fire in the Seminoles as they meet Texas A&M, followed by Notre Dame.