Potential Upsets for Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament

Written by :
Published on : March 16, 2017

 

While the weather across much of the Midwest and Northeastern parts of the country would suggest otherwise, spring is just around the corner here in the United States and that can only mean one thing—March Madness has arrived.

 

A couple of storylines take center stage in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Defending champion Villanova looks to become just the 3rd back-to-back champ in the past 25 years, Northwestern makes its NCAA Tournament debut after making the tourney for the first time in their history, and possibly the feel good story of the tournament, Michigan battles on after quite the scare when their team plane heading to Washington D.C. for the Big Ten Tournament slid off the runway. Michigan went on to win the conference tournament and isn’t a team anybody wants to see right now.

 

But of course, as always with the NCAA Tournament, new storylines seem to be born every round, and upsets can come from anywhere, just ask Michigan State. So as you take a final look at your bracket, desperate to find that Cinderella that’s going to keep your bracket from being busted during the opening weekend, take a look at these potential underdogs that can make you look like a true Bracketologist.

 

For starters, with all the magic that is March Madness, it’s hard to define what is and what isn’t an upset, who is or who isn’t a Cinderella. For the sake of this article, nothing under an 11-seed will qualify as an upset so if you want to boast around the office about how you predicted a 9 or a 10-seed winning on opening weekend, save it.

 

Here are my 5 most likely big upsets for Round 1 (Thursday and Fridays games).

 

5. (#13) East Tennessee State over (#4) Florida

 

The Gators are the last team to win back-to-back NCAA Championships when they did it in the early 2000’s, and are set to face the defending champs Villanova in the Sweet 16, should both teams make it that far. However, both teams would be wise to not look ahead to that potential matchup as they both have a tough road to the Sweet 16. For Florida, they better not look beyond even their first game as East Tennessee State is looking to steal one. The Gators are without their big man in the middle (John Egbunu) which takes away a dynamic shot blocker. On the other side, East Tennessee State has the ability to shut down the paint defensively and they have a big-time scorer in T.J. Cromer.

 

Upset confidence points: 3/10

 

4. (#12) Florida Gulf Coast over (#5) Florida State

 

Who doesn’t remember when Florida Gulf Coast shocked the world by defeating 2-seed Georgetown in 2013, introducing us all to “Dunk City?” After making the tournament last year as well, Florida Gulf Coast is becoming even more of a household name this time of year and are set for a very interesting all-Florida matchup against Florida State in Orlando. Oh how the selection committee has a way of putting these regions together. Florida State was a team I loved going into the season, as I expected them to be major players in the ACC. After tying for 2nd place in the conference, the Seminoles lost a close game to eventual conference tournament champion, Duke in the ACC Tournament. The dynamic duo of Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Dwayne Bacon can light up the gym but the Seminoles all too often get their lights knocked out when the spotlight is on.

 

Upset confidence points: 4/10

 

3. (#12) UNC Wilmington over (#5) Virginia

 

A year ago, UNC Wilmington almost pulled off a major upset when they gave Duke all it could handle before the Blue Devils eventually pulled out an opening round win. One year later, UNC Wilmington is looking for redemption against another ACC foe. Coach Tony Bennett has built a fantastic program at Virginia in recent years centered around defense. The Cavaliers are not flashy and may even have a tendency to put you to sleep, but for the past few years it has gotten results. UNC Wilmington is the exact opposite as they get up and down the floor quickly. This is your classic “something has to give” matchup as two very opposite styles try to get their opponent to play to their pace. UNC Wilmington protects the ball well, and attacks the offensive glass. Second chance points for the Seahawks and Virginia’s inability to match offensively I think is the difference.

 

Upset confidence points 5/10

 

2. (#11) Rhode Island over (#6) Creighton

 

A couple of smaller schools match up here in the Midwest Region on Friday afternoon with the Rhode Island Rams and the Creighton Blue Jays. For both teams, they entered the season with very lofty expectations and both had disappointing finishes. For Rhode Island, a preseason ranking was followed by a shaky of 10-6, but they wound up winning 14 of their final 17 games. On the contrary, the Blue Jays got off to an incredible 18-1 start but limped to the finish line going 7-8 down the stretch. The downfall seemed to begin when point guard Maurice Watson (who at the time led the NCAA with 8.8 assists per game) went down with a torn ACL. Sometimes in March, it’s all about who enters the Big Dance with more momentum and the Blue Jays seem to have the momentum of a flightless bird.

 

Upset confidence points: 6/10

 

1. (#12) Middle Tennessee State over (#5) Minnesota

 

With possibly the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history under their belts after defeating 2-seed Michigan State last year, the Blue Raiders are out to show the world they aren’t a fluke. While they flew under the radar a bit last year, Middle Tennessee State probably has a better team this year and won’t be satisfied with just a first round victory this time around. Giddy Potts and Reggie Upshaw were enough to knock off the Spartans last year but the addition of JaCorey Williams gives them the realistic possibility of making a Sweet 16 run. Minnesota has enjoyed quite a turnaround this year as the Golden Gophers went from an 8-23 season last year, and having only 2 conference wins to finishing 4th in the Big Ten this year with a 23-8 record overall. Richard Pitino has a very talented young team led by point guard Nate Mason who has big game ability. Minnesota however does not have a ton of depth and the Red Raiders will look to expose that by getting the Golden Gophers into foul trouble. Expect to see Middle Tennessee State wreck another Big Ten team’s season, and avoid seeing them wreck your bracket again. Go with Middle Tennessee State.

 

Upset confidence points 7/10

 

So there you have it. Five big games to watch that have the potential to either make or break your bracket. Tread carefully, but if you’re looking for a little more spice or sizzle for your bracket, needing to find some upsets to shake things up, then look no further. A 12-seed over a 5-seed is almost a gimme as is the popular 11-seed over a 6-seed. This year I see a great chance to have as many as three 5-seeds fall. When the dust settles I think the cream will rise to the top and the Final Four won’t be anything too surprising but the opening weekend could be one to remember. Good luck and enjoy the dance.

 

 

 


Power Ranking the Power 5: Preseason Edition

Written by :
Published on : August 10, 2015

 

 

Now that we are into the month of August, it’s time to start getting serious about college football, the most hallowed of American traditions. With the preseason USA Today Amway Coaches Poll having been released, we can finally dig in and start dissecting where the country’s biggest and baddest programs stand heading into the 2015 season. We look at which powerhouses are pretenders and which underdogs are sure to set the world on fire this autumn.

 

The following is my ranking of each of the Power 5 Conferences in college football. Not only will I rank each conference against each other, but I will also include a power ranking of all the teams within each individual conference. Sure there are a couple teams in the preseason ranking that live outside of the world of the Power 5, but they are anomalies. In order to be the best in college football, you need to be the best amongst these teams within these conferences.

 

#1. The SEC

 

This should surprise no one. With eight teams in the preseason coaches top 25, and another two knocking on the door, the SEC is still the cream of the crop in college football. Having produced seven of the last ten national championship teams, this conference is truly a league of it’s own. The Southeastern Conference is still the gold standard, and despite being two years removed from the conference’s last national championship, it’s hard to imagine that changing, even if the title alludes them again this year.

Alabama (3), Auburn (7) and Georgia (9) lead the conference as the three teams in the top 10 coming into the season, but this conference is so loaded with good teams that it’s hard to see these rankings remaining static for very long. Most of these teams will play each other throughout the season, and with Alabama looking slightly less godlike than in recent years, the door is open for some of these other teams to make their mark. One team will rise from the ashes after they have all beaten the hell out of each other, and I would look for Auburn to make some serious noise this year, winning the conference and punching a ticket to the second ever college football playoff.

*indicates team’s ranking in coaches poll

  1. Alabama (3)*
  2. Auburn (7)
  3. Georgia (9)
  4. LSU (13)
  5. Ole Miss (15)
  6. Arkansas (20)
  7. Missouri (23)
  8. Tennessee (25)
  9. Mississippi State
  10. Texas A&M
  11. South Carolina
  12. Florida
  13. Kentucky
  14. Vanderbilt

 

#2. The Pac-12

 

The Pac-12 comes in behind the SEC and boasts a very formidable six teams in the preseason coaches top 25. Oregon (5) and USC (10) are the lone top 10 teams in the conference, though I have to say that I feel like USC is ranked a bit too high. They played some bad football at times last year and a lot is going to rest on a defense that flat-out blew it in some critical situations last year. That said, this conference is pretty loaded and the top seven teams can contend this year.

Oregon is the obvious choice to represent the Pac-12  in the playoffs, and they will remain on top of the conference until someone knocks them off. Replacing Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota will be no easy task and if they stumble in their quest to find a viable replacement, the door could be left open for USC or UCLA to make a run at the conference championship. Like Oregon, UCLA also has some questions at quarterback, and will need to find one quickly in order to remain relevant in the conference.

 

  1. Oregon (5)
  2. USC (10)
  3. UCLA (14)
  4. Arizona State (16)
  5. Stanford (21)
  6. Arizona (22)
  7. Utah
  8. Cal
  9. Washington State
  10. Colorado
  11. Washington
  12. Oregon State

 

#3. The Big Ten

 

Coming into the 2015 college football season, the Big Ten has the honor of being home to the #1 team in the nation, Ohio State. They hold the current title of national champion and winner of the first ever college football playoff. The Buckeyes are returning all three quarterbacks and Braxton Miller is making the switch to wide receiver. Miller was 28-8 as a quarterback and started as a true freshmen in 2011, but will now be catching balls from either JT Barrett or Cardale Jones, the latter of which won the national championship game.

After Ohio State there is a very strong Michigan State (6) team joining them in the top 10, and the only other team in the top 25 is Wisconsin (18). There may only be three teams in the top 25, but there are a few others on the fringe that could easily sneak into mix during the first few weeks of the season. Look for Nebraska, Penn State and Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan team to make some waves and even upset a few people, but until further notice this thing belongs to the Buckeyes.

 

  1. Ohio State (1)
  2. Michigan State (6)
  3. Wisconsin (18)
  4. Nebraska
  5. Michigan
  6. Penn State
  7. Minnesota
  8. Iowa
  9. Maryland
  10. Rutgers
  11. Northwestern
  12. Indiana
  13. Illinois
  14. Purdue

 

#4. The Big 12

 

The Big 12 actually only has ten teams, but since that name is already taken it looks like they are going to ride this thing out. We joke, but the fact that is  they lack those two teams necessary for a conference championship game.  TCU (2), Baylor (4) and Oklahoma (19) are the three teams representing the Big 12 in the preseason coaches poll and they are all deserving of their places on the totem poll. The only other team with a real argument for being included is Oklahoma State.

 

TCU has a pretty cake season up until the last two weeks when they travel to Oklahoma and then come home to face Baylor. If they stay undefeated, then there’s a pretty good chance they win. It’ll take an undefeated season for the Horned Frogs, capped by two big wins, in order for the team to overcome the lack of a conference championship and earn a trip to the playoffs.

 

  1. TCU (2)
  2. Baylor (4)
  3. Oklahoma (19)
  4. Oklahoma State
  5. Kansas State
  6. Texas
  7. West Virginia
  8. Texas Tech
  9. Iowa State
  10. Kansas

 

#5. The ACC

 

Like the last two conferences we discussed, the ACC has three teams in the coaches top 25. Florida State (8), Clemson (12) and Georgia Tech (17), and the only other team that currently threatens to join them is Louisville. There are a lot of questions surrounding these teams and none of them look all that scary. Especially when you consider the fact that Florida State and Clemson will beat up on each other and Georgia Tech has the hardest schedule among the three.

Florida State has a lot of talent all over the field, but much of it is untested and unproven. The loss of Jameis Winston, might be too much for the Seminoles to overcome. Look for Clemson to win the conference if, and only if, Deshaun Watson can stay healthy. Either way, I think everyone in this conference is going to beat up on each other so badly that if the winner of the Big 12 wins out,  the ACC will be left on the outside of the playoff looking in.

 

  1. Florida State (8)
  2. Clemson (12)
  3. Georgia Tech (17)
  4. Louisville
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. Miami
  7. Pitt
  8. North Carolina State
  9. North Carolina
  10. Duke
  11. Virginia
  12. Boston College

 


 

That’s it for Power Ranking the Power 5: Preseason Edition.

Check in with us each week during the college football regular season for updated power rankings, and to see who shows up and who stinks up the place.

 

 


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