10 Lower NCAA Tournament Seeds Nobody Wants to Play

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2013

10 Lower NCAA Tournament Seeds Nobody Wants to Play

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    Upsets, upsets and more upsets.

    That's what the NCAA tournament is all about. Cinderellas. Davids slaying Goliaths. Small-confernece nobodies upending the very best teams in the nation.

    With so much parity existing in college basketball these days, the chances for the dramatic are greatly increased this March. 

    Mid-majors and smaller conferences got more love than we're used to seeing and will be playing for respect.

    Traditionally the No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchup has been tricky for the higher seed. And that will absolutely be the case this year. But that's not the only time a higher seed can find itself in trouble.

    After all, that's why they call it March Madness, and these are the 10 team's that no higher seed wants to play.

South Dakota State (No. 13 East)

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    The Michigan Wolverines (No. 4 East) could not have been happy when they saw South Dakota State revealed as their opponent in the round of 64.

    The Jackrabbits (25-9) are more than capable of the upset and returned key pieces from last year's team that, as a No. 13 seed, led eventual Elite Eight team Baylor by 12 points before losing by eight in the first round. 

    The team is led by their freakishly good senior guard Nate Wolters, who averaged over 22 points to go with 5.6 boards and 5.8 assists. He's lethal from the three-point line, and if he gets hot there, there isn't a team in the tournament he can't scorch.

    South Dakota State proved their mettle this season by being the only team in the nation to travel to "The Pit" and defeat the New Mexico Lobos, which they did by a 70-65 score on Dec. 22.

    This is the type of team that, if hot, can be a nightmare for absolutely anyone.

Bucknell (No. 11 East)

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    Bucknell has been here and done this before. Just ask Kansas what it's like to face the Bison in the round of 64 during March Madness. 

    Of course that was in 2005 when Bucknell upended heavily-favored Kansas. They also took down Arkansas the next season in the tournament, so this program is no stranger to big upsets.

    In the second round, they'll face a Butler team that has an impressive upsetting history in its own right.

    Bucknell (25-8) comes into the tournament having won 15 of their last 17 games and are extremely disciplined and experienced. 

    Mike Muscala averages a double-double at 19 points and 11 boards a game, and his 22 double-doubles led the nation.

Belmont (No. 11 West)

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    It seems that we always say this, but Belmont, despite never having won a tournament game, is a team that nobody wants to see in their draw. And this might just be the best Bruins team we've seen enter the tournament.

    In their inaugural season in the Ohio Valley Conference, Belmont (26-6) won the conference and broke the heart of defending champions Murray State in the conference title game. 

    They are an absolutely lethal team from three-point range (something of a trend at this point), and can shoot with accuracy from pretty much anywhere on the court. 

    Ian Clarke with his 18.1 points a game leads the team and his 46 percent shooting from downtown is ridiculous.

    The Bruins went 2-2 against tournament teams this season, beating South Dakota State and Middle Tennessee but losing to VCU and Kansas.

Villanova (No. 9 South)

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    How about them Wildcats? You'd be hard-pressed to find a more up and down bunch than Villanova was this season. 

    After all, this was the same team that scored consecutive wins over Louisville and Syracuse—when both were No. 1 in the nation—and also got very impressive wins over Marquette and Georgetown down the stretch.

    But they're also the team that got shellacked by 22 against Alabama and in their next game lost by 18 against Columbia. 

    With Villanova it's a crapshoot, and throwing the dice is always a (forgive the pun) dicey proposition.

    Jay Wright's team has shown that they're able to play with the big boys on the biggest of stages and win. Of course, that's if they show up, which is not a guarantee.

    North Carolina—and possibly Kansas in the third round—better hope they don't, or they could be headed for early exits.

Minnesota (No. 11 South)

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    Minnesota is another one of those teams capable of beating teams they shouldn't beat, but then losing to those they should.

    The Golden Gophers (20-12) came out of the gate extremely hot, winning 15 of their first 16, with the lone lose coming to Duke. But they then stumbled badly, losing four straight in Big Ten play.

    Playing in the Big Ten this season was a nightmare, with so many good teams. And the Gophers beat most of them, holding victories over Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. 

    But they also lost to Purdue, Nebraska and Northwestern. 

    The problem for UCLA and anyone who may come next is that this team seems to play up to their competition. Even in the games they lost to Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan State, they were competitive and in the game.

    If they put the pedal to the metal, they are capable of beating anyone.

Ole Miss (No. 12 West)

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    The Ole Miss Rebels (26-8) appeared to be firmly on the bubble when Championship Week began, but regardless, it didn't matter, as they ran the table and won the SEC tournament. 

    As a No. 12 seed, they are ridiculously low and you cannot be happy to see them if you're Wisconsin. You make it to the Big Ten title game and you get one of the hottest teams in the nation coming off a tournament-clinching win over a tough Florida Gators team. 

    They hold two wins over Missouri and the aforementioned Gators, have a very high-powered offense led by a dynamic scoring guard in Marshall Henderson, and can rebound better than most teams in the nation. 

    They'll also likely carry a chip on their shoulder into the field given their low seeding. Wisconsin, which is a very low-scoring team, better hope they can shut down the Ole Miss offense, or it's hard to see how they can win.

Oregon (No. 12 Midwest)

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    Speaking of teams seeded criminally low, please introduce yourselves to the Oregon Ducks (26-8). Granted, the Pac-12 wasn't the best conference this year (though they did get five teams in the field, but winning it should be worth more than a No. 12 seed, no?

    Oklahoma State, for one, probably thinks so, as they'll now have to face a Ducks team that comes in with momentum and their starting point guard Dominic Artis back in the fold. 

    Whether Artis is able to return to form remains to be seen. But if he does, Oregon is extremely dangerous and could easily find their way deep into the tournament.

    When you look at their resume, you don't think 12th seed. Somewhere between No. 8 and 10 maybe, but it seems the committee must not have liked Oklahoma State too much to give them this second-round matchup.

    Do they have some bad losses? Sure. But they also have very good wins over Arizona, UCLA and UNLV. They're no pushovers and they're hot—a dangerous mix for the higher seeds in their region.

Montana (No. 13 East)

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    What does Montana do well? Let's see. 

    They're a small-conference team from out west, and stop me if you've heard this, but they're a deadly three-point shooting team. 

    As a team, they shoot nearly 39 percent from behind the arc and have five players that shoot over 36 percent from downtown. 

    It's every big-conference team's nightmare to encounter a team that can connect from the outside and get hot during the tournament. 

    This year, Montana could be that team. And if they are, then Syracuse could find themselves in a great deal of trouble.

Florida Gulf Coast (No. 15 South)

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    Every year it seems that a No. 15 seed either takes a No. 2 to the wire or beats them. This year, the squad with the best chance of doing so is the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. Sure their matchup with Georgetown places them at a significant disadvantage, but if you're looking for a major upset, this could be it.

    The Eagles are absolutely not going to be intimidated. They went on the road early in the season and blew out Miami (another No. 2 seed) by double-digits and also faced three other tournament teams in Duke, VCU and Iowa State.

    They lost all of those games, but they won't be new to the level of competition they'll see from the Hoyas. 

    Will they win the game? Probably not. But they're the best shot amongst the No. 15 seeds.

Iowa State (No. 10 West)

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    Look out Notre Dame, and then Ohio State, the Cyclones of Iowa State are near the top of the nation in virtually all offensive categories and have proven this season that they can play with any team.

    This is a team that holds wins over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State.

    They can score, rebound and shoot from the field at a very good clip. They absolutely love shooting the ball from three-point land, and if they get hot it could spell doom for a lot of teams in the West region and for a lot of brackets.

    Should they get by Notre Dame in the second round, they'll be in a prime position to give the Buckeyes all they can handle for a shot at the Sweet 16.


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