These aren't massive long shots to reach the Final Four. But they are all 4 seeds or lower, and there is reason to think each can wreak havoc in their respective regions.
Here are five schools who could be March Madness bracket busters — and some are not who'd you think of normally in that role.
There's so much to like about Florida State. The Seminoles are hot, having won 14 of their last 16 games. And the two losses came to Duke and North Carolina, both 1 seeds.
Florida State is also talented, deep and experienced. It reached the Elite Eight last season and returns many of the same pieces. The Seminoles have eight players who average at least six points per game, and rank ninth in the country in defense, per KenPom. They can play big or small, featuring lineups with shooting or offensive glass-mashers. Versatility is key in the NCAA tournament, and Florida State has plenty of it.
The Seminoles also have a reasonable path to navigate. Vermont is tough as a 13, but Marquette is one of the weaker 5 seeds considering its recent rut. And all of the 1 seeds are really, really good, but Gonzaga just showed its vulnerability against St. Mary's.
Look out for these guys.
Villanova may not have the horses it had last year, but it's dangerous as a 6 seed. The Wildcats have won two of the last three national championships, and just won the Big East tournament. And while the headliners from last season's bunch are gone, a few familiar faces will once again play key roles.
Eric Paschall and Phil Booth form one of the better 1-2 duos in the field. They combine to average 35.1 points and are both seniors. Villanova generates 53.5 percent of its offense from behind the 3-point arc, meaning the Wildcats aren't shy about hoisting up shots from range. Their accuracy comes and goes, but if it's on, Villanova is straight up lethal.
Its path doesn't look incredibly daunting. Purdue, the 3 seed in the Wildcats' region, is good. But the Boilermakers haven't made a deep NCAA tournament run in recent history. Tennessee, the 2 seed, has been a bit up and down lately.
Jay Wright is still arguably the best coach in the dance. That can't be overlooked.
If Kansas can win its first two games, it will get to play the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight in Kansas City. Needless to say, North Carolina can't be thrilled about that.
There are plenty of reasons to doubt the Jayhawks. This is the first time in over a decade they didn't win the Big 12, and they're without Udoka Azubuike and Lagerald Vick. The freshman backcourt is inconsistent. And the road to Kansas City isn't easy. Kansas would likely have to go through Auburn in the second round, which just won the SEC tournament.
But if Kansas can make it to Kansas City, it will be dangerous. Jayhawks fans would obviously flood the building, and there's still talent here to go along with one of the best coaches in the country in Bill Self. Dedric Lawson isn't flashy, but he's an incredible forward. Lawson is averaging 19.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season.
Guards Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson are the X-factors here. When they are assertive with the ball and are hitting open 3s, Kansas is tough to beat. When they are struggling, defenses can key in on Lawson. All of this said, it wouldn't be shocking to see Kansas make it to Minneapolis.
This is a talent play. There just haven't been a lot of 7 seeds in years past with as much raw ability as the 2019 Wolf Pack.
Nevada has two players in Caleb Martin and Jordan Caroline who average more than 17 points per game, and two more in Cody Martin and Jazz Johnson who average double figures. The Martin-Martin-Caroline-Johnson-Tre'Shawn Thurman lineup is flat out scary. That's four 6-7 guys who can switch, shoot and handle to go along with a speedy bucket-getter in Johnson.
This team has a high ceiling. The issue: it's potentially staring at 2 seed Michigan in a second round game, and the Wolverines have been outstanding in tournament play lately. But if Nevada can pull off that upset, it can make a serious run. And it should be able to handle Florida in the first round.
The Wolf Pack disappointed a bit this year after last year's tournament run, but the personnel is mostly the same. Bottom line: while the 7 seed may have been deserved, they're far more talented than your typical team on that line,
Yeah, yeah. Cincinnati hasn't exactly lit up the NCAA tournament lately. It lost to Nevada as a 2 seed last year. But the Bearcats just won the AAC tournament, beating a Houston team decisively in the title game that might be a trendy Final Four pick.
And Cincinnati has dudes. Jarron Cumberland is rugged and skilled. The Bearcats mash people on the offensive glass, collecting almost 38 percent of their own misses. That ranks fourth in the country. Offensive rebounding is a reliable source of offense night in, night out. There's a lot of variance that comes with 3-point shots, but offensive rebounding generally travels. Cincinnati knows it can count on that.
The Bearcats are in the same region as Villanova. And as we mentioned before, while Purdue and Tennessee are good, they are beatable. Cincinnati has a good draw in the 7-10 game in Iowa. That looks like a win on paper.
Potentially drawing Cincinnati in the second round is a tough break for Tennessee, by the way. They are very similar teams. While the Bearcats don't have the hype they had this time last year, they have the ability to do some damage.