March Madness: 5 Sleeper Teams to Keep an Eye On

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A year ago, history was made at the NCAA basketball tournament. It was the first time that two 15 seeds defeated two No. 2 seeds in the round of 64. To start, Florida Gulf Coast — one of the 15 seeds — made it all the way to the Sweet 16, albeit falling to Florida. It truly was a Cinderella run. Then there was ninth-seeded Wichita State, who went to the Final Four for just the program’s second time. Both of these schools weren’t well known, and few people correctly picked them in their brackets.

It’s those kinds of upsets that can make or break your bracket. Unfortunately, normally they break it — for example, thousands of people had Georgetown (Florida Gulf Coast’s first opponent) going all the way to the Elite Eight or Final Four, if not further. The trick isn’t necessarily picking all of the upsets and having a perfect bracket: It’s foreseeing a potentially overrated, high-ranked team and not taking them too far. But if you are hoping to make a perfect bracket — en route to winning the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge – here are five teams that have sleeper potential written all over them.

Source: University of Kentucky Athletics

1. Kentucky

There’s no doubt that it’s difficult to call the Wildcats a “sleeper.” But considering they’re an 8 seed in the Midwest Region, they’re not suppose to make it past the first few rounds. What people forget, though, is that Kentucky was the preseason No. 1-ranked team in the nation. Led by freshman Julius Randle, the Wildcats have the skill to advance far into the tournament; it’s just a matter of if they have the discipline.

Just like other Kentucky teams in the one-and-done era, the Wildcats are young and inexperienced. They struggled late in the season, even to the extent that they dropped from the top twenty-five, and it can be difficult to predict how a team with a starting lineup of all freshmen will play on a national stage. But that could also work in their favor — the unpredictability of young players could mean a deep, unexpected run. If there’s one thing about a John Calipari-coached team to remember, it’s that they tend to play well come the tournament, and that’s the main reason the Wildcats have sleeper potential.

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