Risky Bracket Picks: The 5 Teams That Could Suprise or Lose Early
I've spent the time agonizing through my bracket. No matter how much time I spend, there are teams that I can easily see losing early on or making it all the way. I've changed my picks on these teams repeatedly and have finally come up with the most likely solution, though nothing is certain.
If you want to win your bracket, I'd suggest taking one of these following teams to make it very far. Which one? That's for you to guess on, because an educated guess is about all you have on these teams.
Before the season, people were talking about Kansas State as a potential one seed in the tournament. About a month ago, people were talking about KSU as a bubble team. Kansas State then responded by winning its last six conference games with impressive wins over Kansas, Missouri, and Texas.
Then came a conference tournament loss to Colorado, a team left out of the field of 68. Jacob Pullen is one of the most talented players in the country with a bright NBA future, but who are these Wildcats? They face a very tough matchup in the first round against 31-3 WAC champion Utah State. Will they be the team who lost to Colorado 3 times or the team who got the last laugh on Kansas?
Bracket Prediction: Kansas State loses in the sweet 16 to Pitt. Picking them to lose to USU is too much of a risk and if they can get passed the Aggies, I think they can get passed a sluggish Wisconsin team. Pitt will be too much of a challenge.
How is this team only 23-10? They have an unbelievably deep roster full of talent and athleticism. 10 players contribute more than 15 minutes of playing time per game. Isiah Thomas, now a Junior, is a joy to watch and has already cemented his legacy at Washington with previous tournament performances and a buzzer beater to beat Arizona in the conference championship game last week.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning might be the best English college basketball player since Luol Deng played for Duke. They score 83.5 ppg, good for 3rd in the country. They rebound the basketball well. This is a team full of athletes. However, losses to sub-.500 teams Stanford, Oregon State, and Oregon make me question this team. Perhaps, it's the defense. Somehow they've managed to lose ten games this year, and that's why they're a 7 seed.
Bracket Prediction: I'm sold on this team as my dark horse. Washington to the final four. They will beat the red hot Tar Heels, Syracuse, and the tournament-favorite Buckeyes along the way. Could they lose in the first round? Am I crazy? Yes...but only when I forget my meds.
Tom Izzo coaching might be enough of a reason for you to pick the Spartans, but there are a number of reasons that this team could outperform their 10 seed. Kalin Lucas can absolutely ball. He can take games over if his teammates are struggling. He can shoot. He can pass. He can dribble. Since Lucas was a freshman, he's done it all (much like Isiah Thomas). Now he's a senior. His surrounding cast includes Draymond Green, A big guy who rebounds, can score off the dribble, and even passes well.
Durrell Summers is a great shooter and scorer. This team has the talent; it was predicted to do great things this year and barely eeked into the tournament with a 9-9 Big Ten record. They've made a run to the championship game without people thinking they had the ability before. Why not again?
Bracket Prediction: MSU shocks people by making it to the Elite Eight before losing to Pitt.
This team can beat anyone. There isn't a team in the field that can shoot the 3-pointer better than Notre Dame can. Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis light it up with .441 and .424 averages, respectively. When I saw them beat Pitt back in January, I was sold on this Notre Dame team. However, in their losses, they have shot considerably worse from distance. Can they avoid a game where Hansbrough and Abromaitis go cold? With six games to a championship, it seems inevitable that the Irish won't have at least one bad shooting game from the two of them. When that happens, It'll be interesting to see how this team responds.
Also, many people say that you need at least one surefire NBA talent to be a championship team, and ND doesn't have that. There are many concerns with this team, but there are even more things to be happy about.
Bracket Prediction: They win the national championship. There will be a lot to overcome, but this team can do a lot more than just jump shoot. They have had enough quality wins throughout the year to convince me that this team is ready to win one for the Gipper.
Let's face it Vanderbilt, you don't exactly have a history of great performances in the NCAA tournament. Last year, they were ousted by Murray State. This year, will it be Richmond? Festus Ezeli is Vanderbilt's big man. He's a traditional post-up guy who can really do some damage down low if the defender isn't strong enough to guard him.
John Jenkins is Vandy's sophomore guard who's thrown up 239 threes on the year. He can catch fire and get on a shooting run, but is also known to go cold for long periods of time. They score a lot of points as a team, but I can't get the images of Siena routing them in 2008 and Murray State stunning them last year out of my head. This is a team that can catch fire and challenge Kansas and Notre Dame for their region or lose in the first round.
Bracket Prediction: It's Murray State all over again. Except this Richmond team is actually a really good team that beat Purdue earlier this season. Vanderbilt loses in the first round.