14. South Carolina Gamecocks
Round of 64: 93-73 over Marquette
Round of 32: 88-81 over Duke
The Gamecocks are putting together an impressive run with possibly the biggest upset of the tourney thus far with their victory over Duke. Many had pegged the Blue Devils as an early favorite to take home the National Championship, but the Gamecocks blend of aggressive-defense and efficient offense derailed the hype train rather convincingly.
Sindarius Thornwell is a stud on both ends, and South Carolina has gotten contributions from several others throughout the year. They won’t blow you away in any statistical category, but they’ve proven they can win in tough circumstances — especially having trailed at halftime in both of their victories. The East is currently wide open for the taking, and if the Gamecocks can keep up this pace, they could be the surprise team in Phoenix for the Final Four.
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13. Baylor Bears
Round of 64: 91-73 over New Mexico State
Round of 32: 82-78 over USC
From preseason unranked to No. 1 in the Associated Press polls, no team has been more up and down this year than the Baylor Bears. The resume is as impressive as any team in the country, with wins over Oregon, Louisville, and Xavier among others, but the losses to Kansas State (twice) and Texas Tech are causes for concern. Johnathan Motley has been the steadying force all season, while Manu Lecomte and Al Freeman create a dynamic backcourt.
The Bears dispatched New Mexico State in the Round of 64, and survived a late scare against a game USC team. They don’t look like the team that was ranked No. 1 a couple of months ago, but they are talented enough to make some noise in the East region.
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