Keeping an Eye on Sleepers’ Odds in the 2015 NCAA Tournament

March Madness Sleepers

Another year, and another bunch of underdogs in the NCAA tournament making runs that have busted brackets and minds alike after three rounds of action. That said, this is typically the part of the tournament where the Cinderellas start to come down to earth and cough up their ruby slippers.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the fortunes of the four teams that have been turning heads going forward in the tournament, and assess how likely it is that No. 7 Wichita State, No. 11 UCLA, No. 7 Michigan State, or No. 8 North Carolina State will continue dancing after the Sweet 16 or Elite 8.

UCLA

The UCLA Bruins are the longest shot to win the championship in Indianapolis, and for good reason. Because their Round of 32 opponents, the UAB Blazers, knocked off Iowa State in the second round, the Bruins have yet to face a true contender in the tournament. That will change when they meet No. 2 Gonzaga, who are averaging 86.5 points per game in the tournament, in Houston. Prediction: lose to Gonzaga.

Wichita State

The Shockers finally got their game with the Kansas Jayhawks, and won it comfortably. They have the pedigree of a team that knows how to win and knows what it’s like to play with a great deal of expectations. Their Sweet 16 opponent, Notre Dame, can score in droves, by the Shockers understand the defensive game better than anyone the Fighting Irish have seen in a week. Prediction: beat Notre Dame, lose in Elite 8.

Michigan State

The No. 7 Spartans fit into a mold that has worked in the Big Dance year after year: a talented team from a strong conference that had some tough losses during the year but have an excellent coach leading them to peak at the right time. Having just downed the best defense in the country, Coach Izzo’s team will now have to remember how to score well enough to keep up with a high-powered Oklahoma team. Prediction: lose to Oklahoma.

North Carolina State

The No. 8 Wolfpack have had an up-and-down season, but are clicking now. Anyone who saw North Carolina State upset the No. 1 Villanova Wildcats knows this team is fighting for every inch, and will be a tough out for anyone remaining in the East region, if only becauise of the amount of sheer effort they leave on the floor. Anthony Barber is a man on a mission and he will not be denied. Prediction: beat Louisville, beat Okahoma, lose to Duke.

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