The 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament is coming soon, and here are your Bracket Busters. These are mainly projected underseeded teams that should outperform those seedings.
The 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament is fast approaching, and spotting potential Bracket Busters is just as important as making your NCAA Basketball picks on who will make the Final Four and who will win the National Championship.
Our first so-called Bracket Buster is actually a team that we feel can reach the Final Four if things go right, following in the footsteps of teams like Butler, VCU and George Mason from the recent past, with the exception being that this is a major conference school that appears to be very undervalued.
The rest of the teams we are about to discuss can all make the Sweet 16 or even the Elite Eight with the right matchup despite being projected as low seeds in their own region, low enough to not be expected to win more than one game if any at all based on expected seeding.
So without further ado, here are five potential Bracket Busters for 2013.
Pittsburgh Panthers: The Panthers come from the Big East, they are ranked sixth in the entire country overall on the Pomeroy Ratings, and yet they just this week entered the AP poll at number 23 following a week where they lost by four points at Louisville and then beat Syracuse at home. Pittsburgh projects to be either a five or a six seed at this point, and did we mention they are ranked sixth in the county by Pomeroy? The current AP polls has Pittsburgh as the fifth highest ranked Big East team behind Syracuse, Louisville, Cincinnati and Georgetown, and did we mention they are ranked sixth in the entire county by Pomeroy? Well, you get the idea. The Panthers are the second highest ranked Big East team on Pomeroy behind Louisville in third and just ahead of Syracuse in seventh. Pittsburgh ranks ninth in the country in offensive efficiency and 13th in defensive efficiency, making it one of only four teams in the nation to be ranked in the top 15 in both categories with the other three being Florida, Ohio State and Louisville, and yet Pittsburgh gets unbelievably little national attention. That is just fine with us though, and we may place the Panthers in the Final Four in a few brackets just for their sheer value.
Missouri Tigers: Last year, Missouri was a two seed in the tournament and lost to 15th seeded Norfolk State in its first game. This year the Tigers have become an afterthought in their first year in the SEC, a conference that contains a Florida team considered by many to be the favorites to win the national title this season and the defending champions from Kentucky that just keep improving as the season goes on and figures to peak at the perfect time as usual. Missouri meanwhile is just 16-6 and 5-4 in SEC play, although two of the losses were by two points on the road at Texas A&M and by three points at LSU. The Tigers rank 20th in the country in offensive efficiency, and although Coach Frank Haith likes to employ a small lineup most of the time and watch his Tigers run, Missouri has actually been a much better rebounding team this season than last year, ranking an amazing 10th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage and a good 52nd in defensive rebounding percentage. Combine a quick small team that can be a nightmare to defense for bigger teams with a club that can actually rebound despite being undersized, and you have a possible Cinderella in the making. Missouri is projected as a nine or a 10 seed, yet we would not be surprised to see these Tigers in the Sweet 16.
North Carolina Tar Heels: It seems strange to see North Carolina and Bracket Buster in the same sentence, but the Tar Heels only project to be a 10 seed right now despite being ranked a very respectable 35th in the country on the Pomeroy Ratings. Furthermore North Carolina is playing its best basketball of the season right now and trending upward on Pomeroy. The Tar Heels were ranked 52nd following a home loss to the Miami Hurricanes on January 10th, but they have lost only once since then as of this writing at NC State while scoring at least 72 points in six of the last seven games. Just like most Roy Williams coached teams, North Carolina loves to run, ranking fourth in the country in tempo rating at 72.9 possessions per game. The Heels still rank just 58th in offensive efficiency and 137th in effective field goal percentage, but both of those rankings are improving with each passing game and the Heels may draw some higher seeded mid-majors in the tournament. If that happens, North Carolina is another 10 seed that could end up in the Sweet 16. We will find out a lot more about both the Tar Heels and the Miami Hurricanes when those clubs have a rematch in Miami on Saturday, February 9th.
Memphis Tigers: The Tigers are a tad hard to project seeding wise because they are such a dominant team in an extremely weak conference, but the general consensus seems to be they will be seeded somewhere between 10 and 12. While we are the first to admit that Memphis has a very suspect schedule with its best non-conference win coming on the road at Tennessee, the Tigers’ Pomeroy profile suggests that they are good enough, especially on the defensive end, to handle a rise in competition in March, or at least handle it enough to win two games to get to the Sweet 16. Memphis ranked 26th in defensive efficiency, 32nd in effective field goal percentage allowed and 41st in defensive turnover percentage, all while being undefeated in Conference USA play as of this writing while outscoring conference opponents by an average score of 73.2-59.2. The Tigers will need to continue that dominance to get any respect as the only remaining non-conference game on its schedule is against Xavier, where a win probably won’t boost Memphis’s reputation much. Still, the Tigers are young and athletic and getting better as the season goes on, and it is a fine testament to their recruiting that a team that starts four underclassmen including a freshman and a sophomore plays defense as well as they do.
Wisconsin Badgers: Similar to Pittsburgh, Wisconsin is another team that often gets buried behind many other teams in its own conference and yet ranks much higher on Pomeroy than you would expect. In this case, it happens to be the best conference in the country though in the Big Ten, and while the Badgers are only the fifth highest ranked team on Pomeroy from their own conference, that is still good enough to rank them 14th overall nationally! The whole country saw what Wisconsin is capable of when the Badgers went into Bloomington and upset then number one Indiana. Yes, number one teams are dropping like flies this season, but Wisconsin is one of the few teams to upset the number one team in its own house. That only proves that the Badgers are capable of beating any team anywhere on any day, and they are projected to be only an eight or a nine seed.