NCAA Basketball March Madness

NCAA Tournament 2014: The 15 Most Likely Bracket Busters

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NCAA Tournament 2014: 15 Most Likely Bracket Busters

Spruce Derden - USA Today Sports

Every year there are teams that step into the NCAA tournament in March that nobody sees coming. Sometimes a well-known program that gets forgotten makes some noise. Other times, a completely unexpected team steps into the spotlight. Last season we saw No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast capture the imagination of the nation as they went further in the tournament than any other No. 15 seed in history.

Who will be that team this year? That's anybody's guess, but there are plenty of teams capable of making an unexpected deep run in the tournament. Even teams that could win an opening round game could be bracket busters if they're a double-digit seed. There are plenty of teams that fit that description and are currently in the projected tournament field.

There are several teams that are projected double-digit seeds in the tournament that could make some serious noise, especially by pulling off upsets in the first round. Other teams that are projected middle-tier seeds have a real ability to make a surprising deep tournament run.

Everyone knows how frustrating it is to watch your bracket fall apart before your very eyes. The feeling of regret for not picking the surprising team slowly sneaks in and it can ruin your entire bracket-making experience. Stay happy this March and be aware of these teams that are capable of making some surprises happen.

So when filling out your brackets this March, keep an eye out for these 15 teams. They are capable of surprising the nation. Make sure you're not one of the people pulling your hair out when one or more of these teams pulls off an upset that you never saw coming.

Jacob Kornhauser is a writer for Add him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or add him to your Google+ network.

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15. St. Joseph's

St. Joseph's
Matt Ryerson - USA Today Sports

Record: 18-7

Projected Tournament Seed: 12

The Hawks started off the season very shakily as they went 4-4 in their first eight games. Since then, they have found their stride, though. They are 14-3 in their last 17 games and are getting hot at the right time. St. Joseph's isn't going to out rebound anybody, but their two-pronged scoring attack of Langston Galloway and Ronald Roberts Jr. gives them the capability of knocking off some more talented teams in the Big Dance.

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14. VCU

Scott Kane - USA Today Sports

Record: 20-6

Projected Tournament Seed: 7

The Rams aren't new to this whole bracket busting business; they upended No. 6 seeded Duke in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. They also reached the Final Four in 2011 after having to win a play-in game first. This year, they're looking very similar to those teams in the way that they've taken care of their business and flown under the radar while doing it.

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13. Kansas State

Kansas State
Jim Cowsert - USA Today Sports

Record: 18-8

Projected Tournament Seed: 9

Coach Bruce Weber's group has played great at home, but has been abysmal on the road. As they slip down the tournament seeding, they are actually more potentially dangerous. If they falter too much, they could find themselves on the wrong side of the bubble, but this is a talented team that could easily be a double-digit seed that pulls off a first-round upset.

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12. St. John's

St. John's
Anthony Gruppuso - USA Today Sports

Record: 18-9

Projected Tournament Seed: 12

What's concerning for the Red Storm is that they are 1-4 against the AP Top 25. However, they beat Creighton a week and a half ago to claim that one win and showed that they can hang with almost anyone. Depending on the team they draw if they make the tournament, St. John's could surprise some people in March.

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11. Boston University

Mitch Stringer - USA Today Sports

Record: 20-8

Projected Tournament Seed: 14

The Terriers lead the Patriot Conference and look like the favorites to take the conference's automatic bid in March. After starting off pretty slow in non-conference play, Boston University has flown out to a 13-2 record within their own conference. Sometimes when teams win non-power conferences like this they are seeded too low. Don't be surprised if a No. 3 or 4 seed gets a scare from them in the tournament.

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10. Stanford

Robert Stanton - USA Today Sports

Record: 17-8

Projected Tournament Seed: 9

Traditionally a football powerhouse, the Cardinal have been pretty impressive in basketball this year as well. Playing in a very competitive Pac-12 conference, Stanford has managed to compile an 8-5 record. With the scoring prowess of junior Chasson Randle, the Cardinal are going to have a shot in any game, even if they play a No. 1 seed in the second round.

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9. Tennessee

Randy Sartin - USA Today Sports

Record: 20-11

Projected Tournament Seed: 13

Make no mistake, the Volunteers are still squarely on the bubble heading into the season's home stretch. However, if they're able to get in as a 13-seed, one 4-seed is going to be very upset. The length and athleticism of the Volunteers can create mismatches, which could be huge come tournament time.

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8. BYU

Chris Nicoll - USA Today Sports

Record: 19-10

Projected Tournament Seed: 10

After beating a ranked Gonzaga team last night, the Cougars beefed up their tournament resume and put themselves on the map. Junior Tyler Haws is one of the best scorers in college basketball averaging 23.6 points per game. While they can't become reliant on that scoring output, he could go off in the tournament and propel them into the second round or even the Sweet Sixteen.

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7. California

Bob Stanton - USA Today Sports

Record: 17-9

Projected Tournament Seed: 11

As an even lower projected seed than the Golden Bears had when they knocked off No. 5 seeded UNLV in last year's tournament, Cal seems capable of putting on an encore performance. They play solid team-first basketball, which is always useful to fall back on when things get shaky in the tournament.

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6. Louisiana Tech

Chuck Cook - USA Today Sports

Record: 21-6

Projected Tournament Seed: 13

In a surprisingly solid Conference USA, the Bulldogs have held their own this season. They've compiled a 9-3 conference record while putting large point totals on the board. Louisiana Tech ranks eighth in scoring, 12th in rebounding and ninth in assists in Division I. That hard-working, fast-pace style makes it serious candidates to be a Cinderella in March.

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5. Southern Miss

Southern Miss
Chuck Cook - USA Today Sports

Record: 22-5

Projected Tournament Seed: 12

The Golden Eagles aren't really outstanding in any aspect of the game, but they've found ways to win this season. Their tournament resume is getting worse though as they've dropped two out of their last three games with both losses coming against unranked opponents. Should they stay in the tournament field, this team's savvy and ability to win tough games could help them squeak by a more talented team.

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4. Baylor

Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports

Record: 17-9

Projected Tournament Seed: 13

It would've been crazy to think six weeks ago when Baylor was 12-1 that they would be at risk of missing the tournament field, but here they are. Following a tough loss to Iowa State, the Bears went on to lose seven out of their next nine games. Recently, they have salvaged their season with three straight wins, including an overtime thriller over Oklahoma State, and could wreak havoc if they sneak into the field of 68.

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3. Texas

Troy Taormina - USA Today Sports

Record: 20-6

Projected Tournament Seed: 7

The Longhorns have hit a bit of a dry spell as a program lately, but their play this season has gone a long way towards restoring that winning tradition. Texas in now ranked No. 19 in the country due in large part to their size and physicality up front. They are by no means unknown, but as a seven-seed in the tournament, the Longhorns could create some serious problems for a two-seed in the second round.

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2. Oklahoma

Alonzo Adams - USA Today Sports

Record: 19-7

Projected Tournament Seed: 7

The Sooners flew largely under the radar at the beginning of this season until beating the then-undefeated Iowa State Cyclones. Since then, they've had various hot and cold streaks. Nobody wants to play them when they're on a hot streak because they will dominate inside and be very difficult to beat.

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1. SMU

Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

Record: 21-6

Projected Tournament Seed: 9

Larry Brown has revived his coaching career and put Southern Methodist Mustangs basketball on the map. The most impressive thing about this team is the teams they've beaten and the way they've beaten them. They beat Connecticut by nine points, Memphis by 15 points and Cincinnati by 21 points. The Mustangs also played Louisville, the defending national champions, tough. All of the one-seeds are hoping that SMU can move up a couple spots because no top team wants to play the Mustangs in the second round.