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Monday, March 18, 2013

Breaking Down the 2013 NCAA Men's Tournament

Wild on Sports
Breaking Down the 
2013 NCAA Men’s Tournament
By Wild on Sports Analyst Travis David
@Tdavid_21 @WildOnSports

On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you in your NCAA Men’s Basketball Bracket this season? With all the parity across the country this season there is only one guarantee this season -- a new National Champion will be crowned when all is said and done on April 8th in Atlanta. Last years champ, Kentucky will be looking to cut the nets down once again this year, but it will have to come in the National Invitational Tournament. The loss of top recruit Nerlens Noel coupled with bad road losses and an early exit in the SEC tournament landed the ‘Cats in the NIT for the first time under John Calipari.

To further add insult to injury for the Wildcats, in-state rival Louisville (Midwest) earned the top No. 1 seed overall and will begin its quest at a national championship at Rupp Arena, home to Kentucky.

The field of 68 has been set, but lets take a look at how we got there and some teams to watch out for over the next few weeks.

In a season that has been more difficult to predict than a meteorologist predicting your local weather forecast, the aforementioned Louisville Cardinals (29-5) enter the big dance arguably playing the best ball.
Rick Pitino’s squad has a good balance of players inside and out. Peyton Siva is the catalyst of the team. The senior guard averages just 10 points per game, but dishes out six dimes per and also plays lockdown defense. On the interior Gorgui Dieng is healthy and is complimented by freshman Montrezl Harrell who had is coming out party Saturday night in the Big East Championship game against Syracuse.
The Cardinals will be looking to become just the third No. 1 overall seed to cut down the nets since the tournament committee started awarding the top seed in 2004, joining Kentucky last season and Florida in 2007.

Despite earning the overall No. 1 seed, the Cardinals may have the toughest road to a championship. Potential opponents standing in Louisville’s way is No .2 Duke (27-5), No. 3 Michigan State (25-8) and No. 4 St. Louis (see below).

The other three No. 1 seeds are Kansas (South), Gonzaga (West) and Indiana (East). The Hoosiers (27-6) were the only No. 1 seed not to win their conference tournament championship. Gonzaga (31-2) finished the season as the No. 1 ranked team in the AP polls and ran the table in the West Coast Conference regular season and conference tournament.

One team who had a fair argument for getting snubbed as a No. 1 seed was Miami. The Hurricanes (27-6) became the only ACC team to win the regular season and conference tournament championships and not earn a No. 1 seed. Miami will be the No. 2 seed in the East bracket and could have a showdown with the Hoosiers for the East Final.

One team that could make a surprising run is St. Louis. The Billikens (27-6) won the Atlantic 10 conference tourney on Sunday with its second win over VCU (26-8) on the season. SLU also boasts three wins over Butler (26-8) in addition to a win over New Mexico among others. The Billikens, who lost their head coach Rick Majerus to cancer earlier in the season, earned the No. 4 seed in the Midwest and could face top-seeded Louisville in the round of 16.

All the talk this season was about how good the Big Ten Conference was and how everyone beat up on each other. But the best conference with season, according to RPI rankings, was the Mountain West. The champion of the MWC was New Mexico. The Lobos (29-5) earned the No. 3 seed out west and could face Big Ten tournament conference champs, Ohio State (26-7) in the round of 16.
Looking for that No. 12 or higher seed to pick up a few wins? Look no further than No. 12 Akron (26-6) or No. 14 Davidson (26-7).

The Zips face No. 5 VCU in the first round in the South region and could provide the most intriguing first-round match up. Davidson will be No. 3 Marquette (23-8), co-champions of the Big East in the regular season.

That’s the basics of this year’s field, where the real winner is sure to be the fans.
Want one final tip when filling out your bracket? Be sure to be prepared by filling out your paper brackets with a pencil instead of pen and have an eraser or two ready for backup as I am sure you may change your mind a time or two.

Good luck and have fun!


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