Commentary

Six potential sleeper teams

Updated: March 7, 2013, 8:47 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

This college basketball season has been wild and wacky. There aren't any dominant teams, and on any given night, we have seen that shock city can hit anybody.

My friends, that is why this year's March Madness is tough to predict. That is the beauty of the sport, that it is so wide open. There are probably 15 teams capable of winning six in a row and cutting down the nets in Atlanta.

As we head into the final week of the regular season, there will be a lot at stake. Schools want to build momentum leading into Championship Week and then March Madness.

I have been asked several times about sleeper teams come tourney time. It is still a bit early to tell how the seedings will work themselves out, but for now, I will project six schools that could be dangerous in the Big Dance. I believe each of these schools will be seeded below the top four in its respective region.

A lot could change in the next few weeks. Injuries could take their toll. Some squads could fade and struggle to get into the tournament. Here are a super six schools that could make some noise.

Saint Louis Billikens
The Billikens have warmed up after a 3-3 start. They beat VCU and Butler, giving Jim Crews' team a real boost. Kwamain Mitchell's return has given the team a spark, as well. This club plays solid defense, and that is an important attribute come tournament time. If Saint Louis stays hot and wins the A-10 tournament, it could grab a higher seed.

[+] EnlargeBo Ryan
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonBo Ryan's team works hard on defense and takes good shots on offense. It's the Wisconsin way.

Wisconsin Badgers
Bo Ryan's team plays with so much heart, passion and intensity. The defensive effort is so crucial, and they will take time off the clock and shorten games in tournament scenarios. The coach always gets the most out of his talent, and Wisconsin will be a very difficult out in the tournament. The Badgers are battle-tested from Big Ten dogfights all season long.

UNLV Rebels
Is Dave Rice's team peaking at the right time? The Mountain West has been a solid league, and the Runnin' Rebels have a lot of talent. Don't neglect them when filling out the bracket.

North Carolina State Wolfpack
Last season, Mark Gottfried's team made a serious tournament run before falling to Kansas. That experience could help this time around. Expectations were so high going into this season, and it has been a roller coaster for the Wolfpack. It could end up in a positive way at the Big Dance for C.J. Leslie & Co.

Illinois Fighting Illini
Any team that could beat Indiana, Gonzaga and Butler deserves some consideration. Guard play is important in the tournament, and the duo of Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson has experience and the ability to do some damage. There is no shame is mixed results in the tough Big Ten. This team could surprise.

Minnesota Golden Gophers
Tubby Smith has an athletic team capable of putting things together. Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams can be tough to stop on the baseline. Andre and Austin Hollins can shine on the perimeter, and Smith can go deep off the bench.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.