Four teams you should want to see in your team's section of the bracket

Four teams you should want to see in your team's section of the bracket
Four teams you should want to see in your team's section of the bracket

When CBS unveils the NCAA tournament bracket on Sunday, every coach will respond by describing his team's opening-round opponent as though they were 1996 Kentucky or 1976 Indiana.

Don't believe them if they draw one of the teams below.

A look at four struggling or injury-riddled teams that are limping into the NCAA tournament and should be favorable draws for whoever gets them.

Syracuse (27-5): If you have to face a top-three seed in the opening round, the one that appears most vulnerable right now is Syracuse. Not only have the Orange lost five of seven games after making it to mid-February undefeated, three of their last four wins have come by two or less points. What's wrong with Syracuse? Well, it starts with a punchless offense. With Trevor Cooney misfiring from behind the arc, the bench providing almost no scoring and too great a burden on Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair, Syracuse has shot under 40 percent in all five of its losses and 32 percent Friday against NC State. The return of Jerami Grant from a back injury has helped, but unless Cooney regains his stroke, the former No. 1 team in the nation might not survive the opening week of the tournament. Projected seed: No. 3

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Iowa (20-12, 9-9): Back in 2011, a once highly ranked Villanova team backed into the NCAA tournament on a five-game losing streak and fell meekly to George Mason in an opening round game. This Iowa team is reminiscent of those Wildcats. The Hawkeyes had won every game against teams outside the RPI top 30 and had put a scare into some elite teams when they went into a sudden tailspin in late February. The result has been six losses in seven games including a stunning opening-round Big Ten tournament exit at the hands of lowly Northwestern. The Northwestern game aside, Iowa's biggest problem is on defense. Four of the six teams to beat the Hawkeyes since Feb. 22 have shot over 50 percent. Projected seed: No. 10.

BYU (23-11): There's no guarantee BYU sneaks into the NCAA tournament, but if the Cougars do receive one of the final at-large bids, they won't be the same team they were much of the season. Kyle Collinsworth, BYU's second-leading scorer and leader in rebounds and assists, tore the ACL in his right knee in the WCC title game on Tuesday and will miss the rest of the season. His absence robs BYU of its best perimeter defender, its most versatile player and a capable scorer. It also likely forces coach Dave Rose to be more reliant on talented but erratic Matt Carlino, a scary proposition. BYU had a high-powered enough transition offense to be dangerous in an opening-round game with Collinsworth healthy, but without him the Cougars would probably be one-and-done if they make the field. Projected seed: No. 11.

Saint Louis (26-6): Only a month after cracking the top 10 for the first time in nearly five decades, Saint Louis is playing like a team vulnerable enough to be beaten early. The Billikens will limp into the NCAA tournament having dropped four of five including a brutal late-February loss to Duquesne and Friday's Atlantic 10 quarterfinal upset against St. Bonaventure. It's possible the extra rest will help a team that has dealt with nagging injuries down the stretch, but the bigger concern is Saint Louis isn't defending as well as it did earlier in the season and its shooting is not nearly good enough to make up for it. The Billikens shoot 31.7 percent from behind the arc as a team and struggled badly against a 1-3-1 zone when St. Bonaventure went to it in the second half Friday. Projected seed: No. 7

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