The NCAA Tournament is right around the corner, and a few of us over here at One-Bid Wonders figured we would share some of our insight on the most likely upsets to help you with your last-minute picks. Enjoy!
Most likely West Region upset
Ari Kramer: No. 11 Ole Miss/BYU over No. 6 Xavier
Xavier has been wildly inconsistent this year. How so? The Musketeers beat Georgetown but lost to Long Beach State on a neutral floor. They beat Providence, but they lost to Creighton at home. Though Ole Miss’ best win was Cincinnati or Oregon, the Rebels took Kentucky to overtime at Rupp. I’m more sold on BYU, which won at Gonzaga.
Martin Kessler: No. 11 Ole Miss/BYU over No. Xavier
Xavier has lost to some meh teams — Long Beach St., Auburn, DePaul. BYU, meanwhile, has been playing solid ball of late, winning eight of their last nine games (including a split with Gonzaga). I expect BYU to come away with a win over Ole Miss in the First Four matchup and then carry on with another W against the Musketeers.
Doric Sam: No. 10 Ohio State over No. 7 VCU
VCU’s HAVOC defense isn’t nearly as strong or scary as it used to be with opponents averaging 65.5 ppg. I think D’Angelo Russell has a huge game to lead the Buckeyes.
Sam Perkins: No. 10 Ohio State over No. 7 VCU
Is this really an upset? I know VCU has Shaka Smart and a history as a tournament darling, but on paper, Ohio State is every bit as good, statistically. VCU has shown the ability to lose to some mediocre teams this year (Richmond twice, St. Bonaventure’s), and D’Angelo Russell can absolutely light it up. VCU is also without key defender Briante Weber, and has been a streaky shooting team for much of the year.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs: No. 13 Harvard over No. 4 UNC
That players-only meeting after the Crimson’s loss to Dartmouth has been the difference-maker for Harvard’s season. After that 70-61 loss, the Crimson has won 11 of their last 13 games. The Ivy-League team has proven they can upset teams in the past and this year may be no different.
Most likely Midwest Region upset
Ari Kramer: No. 12 Buffalo over No. 5 West Virginia
I like the Texas/Butler upset pick, but so does Vegas — the Longhorns are actually favored, despite having the worse seed. I’ll take Buffalo because the Bulls take care of the ball, are solid on the glass and get to the foul line, where they hit 72.2 percent of their attempts. That’s almost exactly how you counter West Virginia’s strengths.
Martin Kessler: No. 11 Texas over No. 6 Butler
Texas can really buckle down on defense, and I worry Butler won’t be able to get much going. This is sad because a we-used-to-be-cinderellas matchup between Butler and Wichita State in the Sweet Sixteen would be fun.
Doric Sam: No. 12 Buffalo over No. 5 West Virginia
Simply superstition: I needed another 5-12 upset. Power forward Justin Moss averages 17 and 9 and will dominate inside if the Bulls can break the Mountaineers’ press defense.
Sam Perkins: No. 13 Valparaiso over No. 4 Maryland
Valparaiso likes to slow the pace down, and plays a style that could allow them to hang around all night. With the 6-foot-10 Vashil Fernandez (and his 7-foot-5 wingspan) and the 6-foot-9 Alec Peters, the Crusaders are not only not going to get bullied in the post, but could actually start throwing their weight around against the Terps’ less-than-intimidating frontcourt. I could see Valpo making this game ugly, with Fernandez taking over on defense, for an ugly, trench-warfare-style upset.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs: No. 9 Purdue over No. 8 Cincinnati
They’re only one seed apart, but it still qualifies as an upset. Cincinnati has proven they can lose to anybody with East Carolina, Temple and Tulane claiming wins over the Bearcats.
Most likely East Region upset
Ari Kramer: No. 13 UC Irvine over No. 4 Louisville
Louisville is a team built to lose against a 2-3 zone. Force the Cardinals to shoot, and they become vulnerable. UC Irvine plays zone and has a 7-foot-6 giant named Mamadou Ndiaye manning the middle of it, so I’ll take the Anteaters.
Martin Kessler: No. 11 Dayton over No. 6 Providence
The Flyers get to play their First Four matchup at home. They should get the win against Boise St. Then it’s up to coach Archie Miller to come up with a scheme to stop Providence’s high-scoring duo of LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn. I think he’s up to the task.
Doric Sam: No. 9 LSU over No. 8 NC State
Jarrell Martin’s between-the-legs dunk in the middle of a game is one of the best things I’ve seen this year. To have the audacity to pull that off shows the Tigers play with a chip on their shoulder and won’t go down in the first round without a fight.
Sam Perkins: No. 12 Wyoming over No. 5 Northern Iowa
My heart wants me to go with No. 14 Albany and the amazing story of Peter Hooley’s perseverance after the death of his mother over No. 3 Oklahoma, and honestly, Hooley is the kind of emotional, inspiring player who could put his team on his back for a game. But I think Wyoming has the talent and potential — two big buzz words and huge “ifs” — and above all athleticism that they could put it together to shock the Panthers. Northern Iowa likes to play a slow it down style, but while Wyoming grinds it out on D, the Cowboys can really push the ball on offense. Star forward Larry Nance Jr. is well known nationally, and regarded as perhaps the best dunker in college ball, but he might not even be the best athlete on his own team. Wyoming point guard Josh Adams — whose tatted up arms and swag are reminiscent of Jason “White Chocolate” Williams, but whose crazy speed, insane athleticism and ability to stop and go on a dime are more similar to Allen Iverson — is the key for the Cowboys.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs: No. 10 Georgia over No. 7 Michigan State
The Bulldogs will represent the SEC and take down Tom Izzo’s Spartans. Big man Marcus Thornton should expect to see big minutes in the Round of 64.
Most likely South Region upset
Ari Kramer: No. 13 Eastern Washington over No. 4 Georgetown
There are a few solid upset picks in this region, but I’ve dug Eastern Washington since the preseason so I’ll go with the Eagles here. Tyler Harvey is the nation’s leading scorer. Venky Jois is one of the best bigs you don’t know. Eastern Washington is a bit smaller than Georgetown, but the Eagles can make up for the deficiency with a hot night from deep, where they shoot 39.6 percent.
Martin Kessler: No. 13 Eastern Washington over No. 4 Georgetown
Eastern Washington — winners of five straight — love to let it fly from beyond the arc. The Eagles have hit 39.6 percent of their three-point attempts (14th in the country) and take 43.2 percent of their shots from deep (18th in the country). Georgetown, meanwhile, doesn’t play great perimeter defense. I could see Eastern Washington getting hot and knocking off the Hoyas.
Doric Sam: No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 5 Utah
SFA has been in this situation before, knocking off VCU as a 12-seed last year. Utah plays good defense (56.9 opp. ppg.), but the Lumberjacks’ high-powered offense (79.5 ppg.) will prevail.
Sam Perkins: No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 5 Utah
Stephen F. Austin can score with anyone in the country, mainly because almost everyone on their roster can put the ball in the hoop AND find the open man (they led the nation in assists). Despite the presence of 7-footer Jakob Poeltl, I don’t think Utah has the roster to “big” Stephen F. Austin too much around the hoop, nor the athleticism to run them out of the gym. This is a game I could see the Lumberjacks hanging around, and hanging around, and hanging around, before making some veteran plays down the stretch. Thomas Walkup and Jacob Parker, Stephen F. Austin’s best players and a pair of 6-foot-4/6-foot-6 men without positions are going to be tough matchups for the Utes.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs: No. 10 Davidson over No. 7 Iowa
With one of the best offenses in the nation, the Wildcats could very well shoot themselves past Iowa into the Sweet 16. They proved that earlier in the year against Dayton – and pretty much in every other game they played.
Upset you’d expect to see in the Round of 32
Ari Kramer: No. 11 Texas over No. 3 Notre Dame
I’ll preface by saying I think Jerian Grant is one of the best players in America and I love watching Notre Dame. That said, Texas’ defense has flustered some elite offenses, like Kentucky’s and Baylor’s. If the Longhorns can lock down the perimeter, they’ll dance into the Sweet 16.
Martin Kessler: No. 7 Michigan State over No. 2 Virginia
This is not a knock on Virginia — the Cavaliers play impressie defense. But Michigan State is a really tough matchup for anyone. Of course Tom Izzo is going to have his guys ready, plus the Spartans have some talented scorers in Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine.
Doric Sam: No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 4 Georgetown and No. 7 Wichita State over No. 2 Kansas
As I stated above, I don’t believe in the Hoyas in March (plus, I’m a Syracuse fan). Also, I think the Jayhawks fold under the pressure of trying to avoid being upset by the Shockers.
Sam Perkins: No. 5 Utah or No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 4 Georetown
Maybe it’s the fact that Kevin Broadus found his way back to the Hoyas staff after imploding Binghamton’s men’s basketball team; maybe it’s the fact that Georgetown completely crumbled under pressure against Florida Gulf Coast’s Dunk City two years ago, or the fact that the Hoyas have lost to a double-digit seed in each of their last four NCAA Tournament appearances – more likely, it’s all of the above – but no matter how you slice it, I just don’t believe in G-town.