Busted brackets and shattered hopes. They're what give March Madness its drama.
Last year, it was Kansas going down to Northern Iowa in the first weekend. In 2008, it was No. 2 seed Duke falling to seventh-seeded West Virginia.
What teams are most likely to be dealt a crushing blow in year's tournament and why? Knowing the answers to these all-important questions could be the key to taking home your office pool for once.
Yes, the Owls have won 11 out of their last 12 games—and yes, Temple had one of its most impressive seasons of late, losing only two games in conference.
But Temple drew a tough matchup in its opening-round game in Tuscon on Thursday. Penn State features one of the most impressive defenses in the field, holding opposing teams to 50 points per game in its last five games against teams not named Ohio State.
Then there's Penn State's Talor Battle. Perhaps the least heralded scorer in the country, Battle is averaging 20 points per game and can slash through opposing defenses at will. Battle will present a serious matchup concern for the Owls.
Add that to the fact that Temple hasn't gotten out of the first round since 2001, and Temple sizes up as an early disappointment yet again.
Sure, the Commodores play in the SEC, but even so, losing four out of your last seven games is no recipe for success in the NCAA tournament.
That and Vanderbilt's matchup with Richmond in the first round spell an early exit for Kevin Stallings' club.
Kevin Anderson torched the Temple Owls for 22 points in the A-10 Tournament. Look for him to do the same against Vanderbilt, which struggles at times on defense.
The Johnnies were one of the feel-good stories of the regular season, making it back to the rankings for the first time in a decade and making a run for it in the Big East regular season.
But the Red Storm hit a bit of a skid coming into the tournament, losing two out of four games, including an embarrassing 14-point loss against woeful Seton Hall.
St. John's is liable to mental lapses, and the loss of starter D.J. Kennedy with a blown ACL won't help its case at all. As magical as the Red Storm's ride was during the regular season, there's a good chance that good fortune won't spill over into the Big Dance.
Oh, and St. John's is only matched up with one of the most experienced tournament teams in the field in Gonzaga in the first round. Good luck with that.
If there's one word for UCLA this year, it would be "inconsistent."
The Bruins started off the season by rattling off three straight wins, followed by four straight losses. After crushing future No. 5 seed Arizona by 22 points, UCLA turned around and laid a complete egg in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament against Oregon, losing by 17.
Their lack of depth, lack of tournament experience and struggles on offense spell trouble against Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans in the first round. Even though Sparty has struggled this season, Izzo somehow always finds a way to get his ball club ready for action in the NCAA tournament. Look for UCLA to make a first-round exit this year.
Texas simply isn't the same team that won 11 straight games in January and February. They got a tough seed from the committee, being stuck in the middle of the West bracket with a No. 4 seed.
Oakland already poses some matchup problems for the Longhorns in the first round. The Golden Grizzlies went toe-to-toe with three Big Ten teams at the beginning of the season and took down SEC stalwart Tennessee.
After Oakland, the Longhorns would then likely face No. 5 seed Arizona, with monster power forward Derrick Williams. Williams loves to step outside and shoot it from three-point range and is averaging 60 percent from behind the arc.
Williams could pose serious matchup problems for Texas, which struggles when its half-court defense is spread out.
Also, while Rick Barnes excels at getting his teams to the tournament, his record for propelling them through it isn't so hot. In 18 trips to the NCAA tournament, he's only taken three of those teams past the Sweet 16.
Jimmer Fredette's going to be Jimmer. Everyone knows that. But if you want to see the most impactful player for BYU, you'll have to take your eyes off the court and look to the Cougars bench.
That's where you'll find sophomore forward Brandon Davies sitting in street clothes when BYU takes to the court in Denver this weekend.
The loss of Davies crippled BYU's defense down low, as evidenced by the show San Diego State's Billy White put on in Las Vegas during the finals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament. The 6'8" White abused BYU's front line for 21 points, 12 rebounds and five assists to hand BYU its second loss in five games.
BYU's first-round matchup looks on paper to be a cakewalk, but Wofford is no team to laugh at. The Terriers are eighth in the country in field goal percentage and—you guessed it—feature a dominating power forward in senior Noah Dahlman. He repeatedly puts up 20-plus points per game and shoots over 60 percent from the field. If Wofford is able to dump the ball down low to Dahlman all game, BYU could be in for trouble from the get-go.
While yet another 40-point night from the Jimmer may get BYU out of a first-round jam, the Cougars then still have to face either Gonzaga or St. John's for the right to advance to the Sweet 16. No tall order for a team that's as offensively one-sided as BYU.
Yes, that's right. UConn.
Kemba Walker's the hottest thing this side of February. So is the entire Huskies team, having set a record with five wins in five days to win the Big East conference tournament.
But let's rewind for just a second. There's a reason why UConn had to win five games in five days.
It's because they finished ninth in the Big East regular season standings.
What's that, you say? UConn only lost to Big East teams this season?
True. But guess who the Huskies will likely face in the second round? Cincinnati—a Big East team.
Rewind again back to February 22, when Cincinnati traveled to Storrs to take on UConn. The Bearcats—with one of the stingiest defenses in all of college basketball—held Walker to five points in the first half. Yes, UConn escaped with an eight-point victory, but that's not the point.
If anyone's going to stop UConn, it will be a defensive-minded team that can can shut down Kemba Walker. Oh, what's that again? Cincinnati gives up only 58 points per game?
Sounds like the perfect storm to me.
Billy Donovan knows how to win. But his current crop of players has a little less experience doing so.
After missing out on the NCAA tournament two years in a row, Donovan brought in high school star Kenny Boynton last year, who helped the Gators return to the Big Dance. But an appearance was about all they got.
This year's team, which also features junior Erving Walker and senior Chandler Parsons, is better than last year's but still lacks the poise and experience necessary to make a deep run in the dance. While the Gators had impressive wins against teams like Kentucky, Kansas State and Xavier, their losses are equally as striking. Four of Florida's seven losses came to teams not invited to this year's tournament.
A Sweet 16 appearance would be a step in the right direction for Donovan's squad, but still a disappointment based on their seeding.
It was a tale of two seasons for Roy Williams' Tar Heels. The first half of the season was marred by disappointing losses and team turmoil.
Then Larry Drew II took his ball and went home, and a whole new team emerged behind the hot passing hand of Kendall Marshall.
North Carolina went on a streak that included 12 wins in 13 games, the only loss coming to Duke on the road.
But a different Carolina team emerged in the ACC tournament—one that coughed up the ball repeatedly and allowed opponents to jump out to an early lead in each of its three tournament games. Against Miami and Clemson, Harrison Barnes was able to bring his team back from the brink, but the slow start killed the Tar Heels against Duke.
It doesn't help either that North Carolina is ranked 102nd in the nation in field goal percentage. Teams are starting to figure out if you stop Marshall at half court and play some defense, this team is completely vulnerable.
The Washington Huskies are a nightmare matchup in the second round for UNC with their ability to run the floor (like Duke) and play defense (like Duke).
Carolina fans may be happy they made it back to the dance this year, but an early bounce will make that joy short-lived.
Coaches all throughout the Southwest region will be poring over game tape from the Jayhawks' loss to Kansas State earlier this year to try to find the formula for toppling one of the strongest teams in the tournament.
They won't have to look very hard.
If Kansas has one Achilles heel, it's allowing other teams to go on a hot shooting streak. Kansas State's Jacob Pullen dropped a cool 38 points on Bill Self's squad back in February, leading the Wildcats to an impressive 16-point win.
That's good news for other teams out of the Southwest hoping to make the Final Four. It's a bracket laden with hot-shooting teams like Purdue, Louisville and Notre Dame. If any one of these teams faces Kansas and gets hot, the Jayhawks could be looking at another disappointing early exit.
Look for Kansas to make it out of the first weekend but end up as the first No. 1 seed to exit the NCAA tournament.