The 2013 NCAA tournament has already started with North Carolina A&T winning a narrow 73-72 contest against Liberty. Of course, this is just a play-in game, and the real action is set to begin tomorrow night.
Both sports bettors and bracket enthusiasts are definitely pumped about this since the NCAA tourney represents some great opportunities to win major money. Assuming you’re looking to bet big on the tournament, or just do a little wagering with your buddies at work, here are some potential bracket busters to look out for.
Oregon Ducks, 12th Seed in Midwest Region – Oregon is the truest sense of a sleeper team because everybody is sleeping on them. The Ducks compiled an impressive 26-8 record this season and won the Pac-12 conference tourney to seal their spot in the Big Dance. This is a deep, senior-led team that knows how to play defense. Assuming they can find some offense to go along with the defense (E.J. Singler leads team with 11.6 PPG), they have a great shot at winning a few games.
Davidson Wildcats, 14th Seed in East Region – The Wildcats got off to a rough start this year after opening with a 4-4 record. However, Davidson really took off after winning 17 straight games in the Southern Conference. Plus they weren’t afraid to take on the giants after facing Duke and Gonzaga earlier in the year. They have a stout defense that’s held opponents to 62 PPG, which could cause major problems for Marquette in the first round.
La Salle Explorers, 11th Seed in West Region – Like Minnesota, La Salle was one of the last teams to earn an at-large bid. However, they were deserving of the selection after knocking off Butler, Virginia Commonwealth and Villanova en route to a 21-9 record. Led by senior guard Ramon Galloway (17.0 PPG), this club is tough to stop as they score over 70 points per game. Furthermore, they force over 15 turnovers a game and could give Kansas State fits if they win a play-in game against Boise State.
Minnesota Golden Gophers, 11th Seed in South Region – The Gophers were one of the most controversial at-large selections in the tournament. They had a losing record in conference play and lost their last three games. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that Minnesota played in the ultra-tough Big 10 and beat Indiana, Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin this season. The fact that the Gophers can beat top-flight teams is one reason why they’re a bracket buster. Plus they draw an injury-laden UCLA team in the first round and could match up well with Florida if these clubs meet in the second round.
Colorado State Rams, 8th Seed in Midwest Region – We realize that Colorado State is a bit higher of a seed than other teams on this list. However, this unheralded club didn’t get a lot of attention after going 25-8 and finishing second in a solid Mountain West Conference. The Rams are quite possibly the best rebounding team in the nation, with Colton Iverson (9.8 RPG) and Pierce Hornung (9.2 RPG) leading the way.
South Dakota State Jackrabbits, 13th Seed in South Region – Most people are going to look at the Jackrabbits’ first round matchup and immediately dismiss this team. After all, they play a much more talented Michigan Wolverines club that’s led by Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III. However, Michigan is on a 6-6 downswing, and South Dakota State has one of the nation’s best scorers in Nate Wolters (22.7 PPG). The Jackrabbits also pulled off an impressive win against New Mexico earlier in the year.
Belmont Bruins, 11th Seed in West Region – One more team with major bracket buster potential is the Belmont Bruins. The Ohio Valley Conference champions can shoot the lights out since they hit 49.4% of their field goals – including 38.6% from the 3-point line. Senior guard Ian Clark (18.1 PPG) is a big reason for this since he shoots 54.1% overall from the field and 46.3% when he steps behind the 3-point arc. What’s great about all of this is that Belmont faces an Arizona team in the first round which is pretty bad at guarding the three. A win here might create a perfect offense vs. defense matchup in the second round since they could face New Mexico, which is holding opponents to 38.8% shooting.