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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Seven teams that can win the NCAA tournament (and two that can’t)

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The NCAA tournament is rarely as wide open as it seems on Selection Sunday. Upsets will happen, but history suggests that there are a small number of teams that can cut down the nets April 2 in New Orleans. The Dagger identifies the seven teams that have the best shot of winning the national championship and two that don't.

1. Kentucky (No. 1 seed, South)

Anthony Davis dominating the tournament is a given. If Kentucky is to win it all, it'll be because freshman point guard Marquis Teague dictates the pace of play and keeps the turnovers to a minimum. Kentucky's bracket is the softest of the four No. 1s. You could argue that Duke, Baylor and Indiana are the worst among their respective seeds. That outweighs the fact that Wichita State (No. 5) and Connecticut (No. 9) are the best of theirs.

2. North Carolina (No. 1 seed, Midwest)

The Tar Heels were almost a unanimous preseason No. 1. Some early-season struggles had folks fleeing the North Carolina bandwagon amidst whispers that Roy Williams was having difficulties harnessing the talent of a roster full of McDonald's All-Americans. The team's play over the past month quieted those rumblings and it's looking more and more like the apathy of a team predestined for greatness, rather than a lack of cohesiveness, may have been to blame.

3. Syracuse (No. 1 seed, East)

Stars cut down nets. Whether it was Kemba Walker, Tyler Hansbrough, Carmelo Anthony or Juan Dixon, every team to win the title this century has had a go-to player. Syracuse doesn't, but the consistency and depth of the Orange was good enough for a 30-2 record and should propel Jim Boeheim's team deep into the bracket.

4. Kansas (No. 2 seed, Midwest)

KU has its star in unanimous Big 12 player of the year Thomas Robinson. If Jeff Withey can keep teams from focusing all their interior attention on Robinson, Kansas should cruise into a potential Elite Eight matchup with fellow college basketball blue-blood North Carolina.

5. Michigan State (No. 1 seed, West)

Any team coached by Tom Izzo is always a threat to cut down the nets. Draymond Green doesn't get as much national attention as his counterparts on Kentucky and Kansas. That will change over the next three weeks.

6. Ohio State (No. 2 seed, East)

As Jared Sullinger goes, so does the Buckeyes offense. The defense is one of the most smothering in the country and is good enough to keep OSU in games even if the All-American has an off-night.

7. Louisville (No. 4 seed, West)

Surely another middling regular-season team from the Big East can't parlay a conference tournament hot streak into an NCAA title. Right?

Two that can't

1. Duke (No. 2 seed, South)

Can't may be too strong of a strong word. How about we go with "won't." Duke's defense has let it down all season. A porous interior combined with streaky three-point shooting is the recipe from which NCAA upsets are made.

2. Missouri (No. 2 seed, West)

Frank Haith's offense is one of the best in the country. But he and his Tigers are playing against history. No coach has won a championship in his first Final Four since Tubby Smith in 1998. That year, Tubby took over a Kentucky team that had lost in the finals the previous season. Missouri has no such recent, or historical, pedigree.

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