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The Best March Madness Sleepers to Watch in 2021
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File

For what it?s worth, a No. 1 or No. 2 seed has won the NCAA Tournament in five straight tournaments. Of course, before that run, we saw a No. 8 seed defeat a No. 7 seed in the national championship game.

While the top seeds typically make it to the Final Four, there?s always the possibility of a sleeper or two making a surprise run.

For the 2021 NCAA Tournament, here are some sleepers to watch closely:

Iowa, +1400

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The Hawkeyes have the best player in the country, which means they?ll have a chance to win every game they play and capture the national championship.

Luka Garza has been an unstoppable force all season and should run away with National Player of the Year honors. He?s averaging 24.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, showing the ability to score in the post and knock down three-pointers and making him a matchup nightmare for opposing teams.

The Iowa supporting cast isn?t bad either, with Joe Wieskamp and his 15.3 points per game leading a contingent of capable outside shooters.

As a team, the Hawkeyes connect on 40 percent of their perimeter shots while averaging 84.7 points per game. Iowa also ranks second nationally in assists and looks like a well-oiled machine when they are sharing the basketball and locating the open man.

They show a strong resemblance to the 2015 Wisconsin team that lost in the title game and could make a similar run.

Florida State, +1600

Slowly but surely, Leonard Hamilton has been getting closer to taking Florida State to the Final Four. The Seminoles reached the Elite Eight in 2018, the Sweet 16 in 2019, and won the ACC regular-season title a year ago before the Big Dance was canceled.

Even if the personnel is a little different from last season, the team is more or less the same in principle. Hamilton has deep teams with an abundance of size and athleticism, which is a formula that has worked well in March in recent years.

The Seminoles are good at just about everything and have few glaring weaknesses. Florida State has nine players who average over 10 minutes per game, allowing Hamilton to play the hot hand while rotating players to keep up the defensive intensity.

The ?Noles also have five players who average at least nine points per game, giving them balanced scoring.

When Florida State needs a basket, senior M.J. Walker and freshman Scottie Barnes, a projected top-10 NBA pick, are both trustworthy options, giving FSU a chance to win close tournament games.

Alabama, +1600

With Kentucky having a down season, the Crimson Tide has taken the reins atop the SEC. Alabama won its first 10 conference games, seizing complete control and practically coasting to a regular-season SEC title.

With senior forward Jordan Bruner returning from an injury in late February, the Crimson Tide should head into the NCAA Tournament at full strength and in a position to play their best.

Alabama does an incredible job of putting pressure on teams at both ends of the floor. Defensively, the Crimson Tide guards are unafraid to pressure the ball while Bruner, Herbert Jones, and Alex Reese give Alabama three senior forwards who know how to defend the paint.

Meanwhile, Nate Oats loves to push the tempo and gives his players the green light to take a lot of perimeter jump shots. Virtually every player in the Alabama rotation is a capable three-point shooter, so when the Crimson Tide gets hot from outside, they can win going away.

Proficiency with the three-point shot also makes Alabama a team that can erase deficits and overcome weaknesses in other areas. 

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