Five double-digit seeds who can make the Sweet 16

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Five double-digit seeds who can make the Sweet 16
USA Today Sports' Steve Berkowitz picks four lower-seeded teams to circle on your NCAA tournament bracket.

Buffalo Bulls – 12th Seed, Midwest Region

Buffalo isn’t your typical NCAA Tournament team in the fact that their head coach, former Duke great Bobby Hurley, is easily the most famous person associated with their run to the tournament. However, Buffalo’s team on the floor is quite talented in their own right, and the Bulls have a legitimate chance to win two games to reach the second weekend.

Match-ups are always a part of projecting which “Cinderella” stories materialize, and Buffalo would likely encounter West Virginia and Maryland on their way to the Sweet 16. Both the Terrapins and Mountaineers have put together strong seasons, as evidenced by their lofty seeds, but Buffalo enters the tournament on a seven-game winning streak and neither “favorite” in their path is particularly scary.

West Virginia and Maryland both have the feel of over-seeded clubs, and there is always a 12-seed that, at a minimum, escapes the first round with ease. Buffalo feels like that team this season, and they are a legitimate top-50 club with upside to do more.

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Davidson Wildcats – 10th Seed, South Region

In a perfect world, Davidson would be seeded properly, and as such, they would avoid Gonzaga in the Round of 32. Unfortunately, the committee looked down upon the Wildcats in this instance, placing them as a 10-seed with an undesirable path to the Sweet 16.

Still, Davidson is blessed with strong, veteran play from the guard spots and that makes them dangerous. Jack Gibbs, Tyler Kalinoski and Jordan Barham are big-time contributors from the perimeter, and they have propelled Bob McKillop’s team to the 8th-ranked offense in the country, scoring 118.5 points per 100 possessions on the season.

It would be borderline crazy to “pick” Davidson outright to beat Gonzaga, but a team that protects the ball like the Wildcats do (2nd in the nation in turnover percentage) with the ability to make threes is always dangerous. McKillop will have this group ready to play, and given that they aren’t your typical 10-seed, it wouldn’t be crazy to see them upend the heavily favored ‘Zags.

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Georgia State Panthers – 14th Seed, West Region

Yes, you’re reading that correctly. A 14-seed has a legitimate chance to reach the second weekend.

Simply put, Georgia State has no business being a 14-seed. The Panthers have three “major conference” guards in R.J. Hunter, Ryan Harrow and Kevin Ware and they were seen as a darkhorse at-large contender at the beginning of the season.

It wasn’t pretty during GSU’s run to the Sun Belt crown, including a 38-36 bloodbath in the final, but the Panthers survived. Their “prize” was a bit of an insult as a 14-seed, but they do have a favorable match-up against the 3rd-seeded Baylor Bears, who have a pension for coming up short at inopportune times under Scott Drew.

Make no mistake, Baylor is better than Georgia State, but if the Panthers can simply keep the Bears off the glass enough to sustain things, their shooting can take over when it counts. If Georgia State can get past Baylor? Their second match-up looks like a coin flip against Xavier, BYU or Ole Miss, and the 14-seed will take those odds.

(AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Ohio State Buckeyes – 10th Seed, West Region

It is insane that Ohio State is a double-digit seed, but that is the world in which we currently live.

At first glance, Thad Matta’s team may look like a 10-seed on the strength of a 23-10 record, but Ohio State navigated the Big Ten schedule with an 11-8 mark (including the conference tournament) and their two non-conference losses came to the likes of Louisville and North Carolina.

Beyond that, KenPom ranks Ohio State as the number 21 team in America, an honor befitting of a 5/6 seed, and it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to see them here. Of course, the Buckeyes do have a difficult match-up against a super-capable VCU team led by Shaka Smart, but Ohio State will be seen as the favorite by most pundits despite being the lower seed.

D’Angelo Russell is a top-five player in America, Ohio State has a talented roster and not even an extremely treacherous match-up against Arizona in round two can keep the Buckeyes off of this list.

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks – 12th Seed, South Region

You probably can’t name a single player on Stephen F. Austin’s roster, but they are very, very good. The Lumberjacks posted a 29-4 record overall for the season, and two of those losses came against high seeds in Xavier and Baylor early in the year.

Head coach Brad Underwood helped to key his group to a top-20 offensive rating nationally, and overall, they are probably one of the best 30-35 teams in the country. Naturally, their lack of name value kept them under the radar as a 12-seed, but SFA does have the benefit of catching a slumping Utah team in round one followed by a likely battle against Georgetown, a team that has big-time woes in their recent NCAA Tournament past.

No one in your bracket will take Stephen F. Austin, because they don’t know what colors the team wears. Look smart and invest in a team that could easily be playing basketball in a week.

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The term "March Madness", quite literally, refers to the fact that seemingly anything can happen within the NCAA Tournament.

There are always titans, i.e. Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin and others this season, that sit on the top seed lines, and these squads often appear unbeatable before the tournament opens.

In opposition, there are double-digit seeds that enter the bracket with little to nothing in the way of expectations. However, one or more of these teams always make a run to the tournament's second weekend, and the 2014 was no exception, with three double-digit seeds (Tennessee, Dayton, Stanford) advancing to the Sweet 16.

This year's field is no different, as there are several clubs that possess the combination of talent and veteran know-how needed to upend the biggest names in the sport. The players may not be widely recognized, the coaches may fly under the radar and the programs may not come with instant credibility on a national stage, but none of that matters when the ball is tossed in the air to begin a 40-minute contest for the right to advance.

Today, we will break down five collegiate teams that have a fantastic opportunity to make a run to the Sweet 16, and when the dust settles, we will see who is able to make the cut over the four-day extravaganza to come.

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Five double-digit seeds who can make the Sweet 16
UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 10: Derick Brassard #16 of the New York Rangers falls to the ice as Jaroslav Halak #41 of the New York Islanders allows a third period goal on a shot by Rick Nash #61 of the New York Rangers (not shown) at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 10, 2015 in Uniondale, New York.The New York Rangers defeated New York Islanders 2-1. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 15: Serena Williams of USA in action against Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan during day seven of the BNP Paribas Open tennis at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 15, 2015 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Atlanta Braves center fielder Eric Young Jr. makes a diving catch for the out on fly ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals' Thomas Pham during the fifth inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Wednesday, March 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Lazio’s Miroslav Klose, left, jumps over Fiorentina’s Manuel Pasqual as they vie for the ball during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Fiorentina, at Rome's Olympic stadium, Monday, March 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 14: Hiroki Yokoyama of Japan (L) crashes during the Men's 1500m Semifinal on day two of the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships at the Krylatskoe Speed Skating Centre on March 14, 2015 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Harry Engels - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
Former Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon talks to the media after Pro Day at the NCAA football team's indoor training facility Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in Madison, Wis. The event showcases players for the upcoming NFL football draft. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 11: Jaron Blossomgame #5 of the Clemson Tigers battles Kiel Turpin #11 of the Florida State Seminoles for a rebound during a second round game of the ACC basketball tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 11, 2015 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL - MARCH 11: Matt den Dekker #6 of the New York Mets is tagged out at home plate by Jarrod Saltalamacchia #39 of the Miami Marlins during a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium on March 11, 2015 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Kansas State's Justin Edwards gets a hand to the face from TCU's Karviar Shepherd while approaching the basket during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Big 12 Conference tournament Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. TCU won 67-65. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
North Carolina'ss Brice Johnson (11) gets a dunk over Boston College's Dimitri Batten (1) during the second half in the second round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. Johnson lead the Tar Heels with 17 points in their 81-63 victory. (Robert Willett//Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - MARCH 11: Rickard Rackell #67 of the Anaheim Ducks skates against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 11, 2015 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Brad Watson/NHLI via Getty Images)
KISSIMMEE, FL - MARCH 12: Ian Kinsler #3 of the Detroit Tigers dives for a ground ball during the fifth inning of a spring training game against the Houston Astros at Osceola County Stadium on March 12, 2015 in Kissimmee, Florida. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Central Florida'€™s Brandon Goodwin, second from left, fights for control of the ball against East Carolina's Terry Whisnant, left, Marshall Guilmette, top center, and Antonio Robinson, right, during the overtime of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament, Thursday, March 12, 2015, in Hartford, Conn. East Carolina won 81-80. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 14: Carlos Sainz of Spain and Scuderia Toro Rosso drives during final practice for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 14, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
SINSHEIM, GERMANY - MARCH 14: Eugen Polanski (L) of Hoffenheim scores his team's second goal during the Bundesliga match between 1899 Hoffenheim and Hamburger SV at Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena on March 14, 2015 in Sinsheim, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Chicago Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell (29) tries to shoot past San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 14, 2015, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: Jordan Zunic of Australia tees off during day four of the New Zealand Open at The Hills Golf Club on March 15, 2015 in Queenstown, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Bayern Munich's defender Holger Badstuber celebrate after the UEFA Champions League second-leg, Round of 16 football match FC Bayern Munich vs Shakhtar Donetsk in Munich, southern Germany, on March 11, 2015. Bayern Munich won the match 7-0. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

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