Commentary

Sleepers that could make deep runs

Updated: March 20, 2013, 1:09 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

When the tournament tips off, people can basically forget about seeding. The bottom line is you have to go out and play your game.

What I love about this year's field is the parity. I expect to see a lot of close games, Maalox Mashers, going to the wire. It is also a time when teams can redeem themselves.

Let me lay on you one sleeper from each region. I define a sleeper as a team that is seeded fifth or lower, and these clubs will not care about seeding when they take the court because they have something to prove.

MIDWEST: Cincinnati Bearcats
Mick Cronin's Bearcats started the season at 12-0 but have been below .500 since. Sean Kilpatrick needs to bounce back from a miserable game against Georgetown in the Big East tournament -- four points and 2-of-12 shooting. I like their chances against Creighton for starters.

WEST: Belmont Bruins
Rick Byrd has brought Belmont teams to the Big Dance before. The Ohio Valley champion is led by talented scorer Ian Clark, who is scoring 18 points per game. Senior guard Kerron Johnson was Mr. Clutch in the OVC final win over a good Murray State club. Belmont could give Arizona trouble in its opening game.

SOUTH: Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Golden Gophers went 3-7 in their last 10 games, leading to an 11th seed. That said, they are actually favored against a UCLA team that will miss guard Jordan Adams (broken bone in foot). Trevor Mbakwe is an inside force. Rodney Williams is very athletic along the baseline. Austin Hollins and Andre Hollins (no relation) are solid on the perimeter. Tubby Smith's team is looking for redemption. Minnesota showed its ability when it beat Indiana.

EAST Davidson Wildcats
Bob McKillop's team is the hottest in America, with a 17-game win streak. Jake Cohen can make some headlines. The Wildcats are the best free throw shooting team in the nation, and that can make a difference in a close game. Davidson could take advantage of Marquette's turnover-prone nature as of late.

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.