It seems like only yesterday that we here at GK Central were mourning the losses by potentially outstanding Killers such as Akron and UT-Arlington in their conference tournaments. Actually, it was yesterday, and now it's time to move on to underdogs who could roil the field of 68.
Just a few definitions to start: A Giant Killer is a team that defeats an NCAA tournament foe seeded at least five spots higher in any round. And a Slain Giant is just a team that loses to a Giant Killer. That's it, no exceptions. Our statistical model has combed through all Tournament games since 2007 to identify the traits common to vulnerable (or safe) Giants and deadly (or ineffective) Killers. It then estimates how much those characteristics affect the basic strength of current teams and their opponents, adds in the effect of matchups between particular types of Giants and Killers and projects the odds of upsets.
This year, in sharp contrast to the previous few, the NCAA selection committee's choices and seedings have pitted a series of vulnerable Giants against teams with serious Cinderella qualities. At the same time, this season's bottom-feeders -- teams seeded 14 or below -- are very weak by historical standards. As a result, our list has almost as much upset potential as last year but is quite top-heavy: