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Dream Killers: Teams Poised to Wreck Your NCAA Bracket

Cinderella was alive and well in the 2023 March Madness bracket when only four of the top 16 seeds reached the regional finals. It is a little harder to find candidates to fit for the glass slipper in this year’s tournament.

Each of the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds is through to the Sweet 16 with ACC champion North Carolina State the only double-digit seed still alive in the tournament.

Dream Killers: Teams Poised to Wreck Your NCAA Bracket
Michael O'Connell #12, Casey Morsell #14, DJ Horne #0 and DJ Burns Jr. #30 of the Wolfpack | Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFP

When looking at the March Madness schedule, four of the 15 programs to win at least two NCAA men’s Division I national titles are still alive heading into the regional semifinals.

Five-time champion Duke and two-time winner North Carolina State are the only ones listed by our college basketball spreads as underdogs in the Sweet 16. However, Duke can’t be considered a Cinderella under any circumstances heading into the regional semifinals.

Let’s take a look at the teams that could serve as bracket-busters as the tournament heads to the Sweet 16.

The odds are at +2000 for a No. 5 seed to win the national title, +8000 for Clemson to win as a No. 6 seed, and +12500 for North Carolina State to be the last team standing.

North Carolina State Wolfpack

  • Record: 24-14
  • Seed: No. 11 in the South Region
  • Odds To Win March Madness: +8000
  • Path to the Sweet 16: Wins over Texas Tech and Oakland
  • Up Next: vs Marquette, Friday, March 29, 7:09 p.m. ET (CBS)


Much like the 1983 national title-winning team, North Carolina State needed to win the ACC just to get into the NCAA tournament.

The Wolfpack beat Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina to win the ACC title and get that March Madness bid.

The well-traveled DJ Horne is averaging a career-high 16.7 points per game after stops at Illinois State and Arizona State. DJ Burns put up 40 points in the first two tournament games.

North Carolina State is listed by the BetUS sportsbook as a 6½-point underdog against Marquette in Friday’s South Region semifinal at American Airlines Center in Dallas. North Carolina State is 10-6-1 ATS as the underdog this season.

Clemson Tigers

  • Record: 23-11
  • Seed: No. 6 in West Region
  • Odds To Win March Madness: +8000
  • Path to the Sweet 16: Wins over New Mexico and Baylor
  • Up Next: vs Arizona, Thursday, March 28, 7:09 p.m. ET (CBS)


With two fifth-year seniors and a fourth-year senior as the top three scorers, perhaps it isn’t that surprising to see Clemson sticking around. However, a tough end to the regular season followed by a 21-point loss to Boston College in the ACC tournament had ball/teams/clemson-tigers/trending in the wrong direction.

Leading scorer PJ Hall is averaging 18.5 points and 6.4 rebounds, but his March Madness averages are just 12.5 points and three rebounds. Syracuse transfer Joseph Girard needs to get going after missing 10 of his 13 3-pointers in the first two games of the tournament. Chase Hunter is putting up 20.5 points per game in the NCAA tournament.

Clemson is a seven-point underdog to Arizona. The Tigers are 8-1 against the college basketball betting odds this season as an underdog.

San Diego State Aztecs

  • Record: 26-10
  • Seed: No. 5 in East Region
  • Odds To Win March Madness: +8000
  • Path to the Sweet 16: Wins over UAB and Yale.
  • Up Next: vs UConn, Thursday, March 28, 7:39 p.m. ET (TBS/truTV)


After losing in the Mountain West final to New Mexico, San Diego State was fading in the Sweet 16 odds. However, Yale’s win over No. 4 seed Auburn opened the door for the Aztecs to return to the Final Four.

San Diego State is an 11-point underdog against UConn in a rematch of the 2023 national title game.

Jaedon LeDee has made a huge jump in his second season at San Diego State after stops at Ohio State and Texas Christian.

He went from averaging 7.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in 18.1 minutes to putting up 21.5 points and 8.4 rebounds in 32.7 minutes per game.

USC transfer Reese Waters, three-year starter Lamont Butler, and Micah Parrish, who began his career at Oakland, are other top scorers for a team that lost three of the seven players who averaged more than 20 minutes per game a season ago.

The Aztecs have covered in just two of their seven games as the underdog.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

  • Record: 27-7
  • Seed: No. 5 in the Midwest Region
  • Odds To Win March Madness: +2500
  • Path to the Sweet 16: Wins over McNeese State and Kansas by an average of 21 points.
  • Up Next: vs Purdue, Friday, March 29, 7:39 p.m. ET (TBS/truTV)


The fact that a Gonzaga program playing in its ninth consecutive regional makes the list as a Cinderella speaks volumes about how this year’s tournament played out.

Saint Mary’s swept the WCC regular season and tournament titles, but the Bulldogs are the last team standing in the WCC.

Kansas was playing without leading scorer Kevin McCullar and while that played a key role in the outcome of the second-round game, the Bulldogs’ impressive win can’t only be chalked up to the short-handed Jayhawks.

Gonzaga lost four of its top five scorers and is back in the March Madness bracket Sweet 16.

Wyoming transfer Graham Ike led the Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding. He is 13-for-19 from the field in the first two March Madness games.

Returning starters Anton Watson and Nolan Hickman join Creighton transfer Ryan Nembhard as double-digit scorers.

Gonzaga is a five-point underdog to top-seeded Purdue. The Bulldogs are 2-2 ATS as an underdog this season.



Questions of the Day

Which team is the biggest underdog heading into the Sweet 16 games?

San Diego State is listed by college basketball betting lines as an 11-point underdog against UConn.

Which Sweet 16 team listed as the underdog has the best record as the 'dog this season?

Clemson is 6-3 outright as an underdog, the best mark among the teams listed by Las Vegas odds as the underdog in the regional semifinals.

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