Busting Brackets

10 surprise teams primed to steal the NCAA Tournament

These 10 teams who likely won't end up as a No. 1 or 2 seed in March Madness, could shake up their region and maybe even make a run to a national title if things break right.

Saint Mary's Gaels guard Alex Ducas (44)
Saint Mary's Gaels guard Alex Ducas (44) / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
9 of 10

Net: 11 Projected Seed: 3. 2328. 23-8 (14-6). . Creighton . . . . . 2

Only three players in Big East history have been named Big East Defensive Player of the Year three times, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, and Ryan Kalkbrenner. Creighton’s 7-foot-1 defensive anchor averages 3.0 blocks a game and allows a team built around offense-first guards, Baylor Scheierman, Trey Alexander, and Steven Ashworth to rank just outside the top 20 in adjusted defensive efficiency. 

Then, on the offensive end, Kalkbrenner has a gravitational pull, opening up three-point looks for the 6th-ranked team in three-point attempts per game at 29.5. The Bluejays get 39.9% of their points from beyond the arc, the 10th highest percentage in the nation which can make Greg McDermott’s team volatile on the offensive end, but it also makes it lethal. 

Creighton is 10th in adjusted offensive efficiency and in March it often becomes about how many different ways your team can get a bucket. The Bluejays have more options than almost any team in the country with Scheierman’s movement, Alexander’s mid-range pull-up game, and Ashworth’s deep catch-and-shoot range. 

I view Creighton as the sixth team among the elite contenders in college basketball, but a -2.7 turnover margin and a lack of bench depth are glaring weaknesses that those other teams don’t have.