The first signs of madness

Some of this year's hoops Giants are primed for an early demise

Originally Published: March 7, 2013
By Jordan Brenner and Peter Keating | ESPN The Magazine
Shane LarkinSteve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsShane Larkin is averaging 13.9 points per game, but his Miami squad ranks 248th in forcing turnovers.

A version of this story appears in ESPN The Magazine's March 18 One Day One Game issue. Subscribe today!

BACK IN 2006, The Mag started a March tradition by forecasting the likeliest Giant Killers -- the underdogs poised to make big NCAA tourney runs. And over the next seven years, our GK statistical model helped us call more than our fair share of upsets. But this season, in an issue dedicated to Michigan and Ohio State, it seemed appropriate to train our model on the Giants, those high seeds most vulnerable to a tiny terror.

In case you're stumbling onto our GK project for the first time, here's a quick refresher: A Giant Killer is a team that beats an opponent seeded at least five seeds better in the NCAA tournament. Typically, these teams employ high-risk, high-reward strategies, such as shooting a ton of 3s or playing pressure defense.

What makes a top seed susceptible to the kill? We'll spare you the gory math and simply give you the results -- six leading indicators of shaky Giants. And of course we're naming names so that you can start a March tradition of your own: winning your tournament pool.


To see what could bring the demise of this year's hoops powerhouses, you have to be an Insider.

Jordan Brenner | email

ESPN The Magazine contributing writer
Brenner writes for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN Insider. He covers the NBA and college basketball.
Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.