Hey MinerRushers, March Madness is officially here, and with that its time to fill out your brackets. The people over at Yahoo! have teamed up with SBNation to help support the bracket challenges for the various site, and this here is our opportunity. In fact, you have the chance to win up to 5 million dollars! But, before we get started with the filling out of brackets, let's take a quick look at what upsets to look out for.
History has shown that the 5 vs 12 matchup will provide for some great basketball, and usually at least one upset a year. In fact, since 1985, the 12 seed has actually won about 1 of every 3 games. I wouldn't expect this year to be any different. In my opinion, every 12 seed in the tournament is capable of winning their 2nd round game.
In what will probably be one of the most picked upsets, the (12) VCU Rams take on the (5) Wichita State shockers in the tourney's South region. Now, the MVC champ Shockers are coming off a great regular season run, finishing 26-5, 10-3, but they are only 2-3 vs the RPI top 50, and 6-3 vs the top 100.
VCU on the other hand, while clearly not the same team from last year's final four run, had a great season themselves, and still has the experience that the Shockers don't. I'm not sure if I'm ready to bet against Wichita St., but I think VCU might be the 12 seed with the best shot at knocking off a 5.
The other 5/12 matchups include (5) Vanderbilt vs. (12) Harvard, (5) New Mexico vs. (12) Harvard, and (5) Temple vs. (12) CAL/USF. While I wouldn't say that these fives are unbeatable, both Vanderbilt and New Mexico are playing extremely well right now, and are both coming off wins of their respective conference tournaments, and Temple was hands down the best team in the A-10 with wins over Duke and Wichita St.
In my opinion, while all 12 seeds could potentially find that 2nd round win, it's actually the 6 vs 11 matchups that are the most intriguing. First up, (6) Murray St. vs. (11) Colorado St. While the Racers are an extremely talented team, they went the majority of the year without really being tested. They did beat both Southern Miss and Memphis early on, but it wasn't until mid-February that the Racers got their signature win, over St. Mary's.
Considering Murray St. finished the season with a 30-1 mark, and have three top 30 wins, its a little surprising to see them land on the six line. It seemed as though a 4 or 5 was in order here. But, six it is, and they now look ahead to taking on a Colorado St. team that is no cakewalk. The Rams have already beat each of the top three teams in their conference, and own three top 50 wins, as well as 7 top 100 wins. Murray and Canaan are gonna have to show up in this one.
Next up are the MWC's 6 seeds UNLV and SDSU. Both had solid seasons, floating around the top 15 to 20 in the country for quite some time. But, both have had their issues as of late. San Diego St. has had some trouble putting teams away, and lost to Air Force in Mid February, and needed a last second shot to get by Boise St. in the MWC tournament.
UNLV is 5-5 over its last 10, and has lost its last 3 contests against top opponents. At this point, I'm not comfortable with giving either of these teams a second round win. Especially considering their opponents. UNLV will take on a peaking Colorado squad, fresh off a PAC-12 tourney championship, and the Aztecs will take on NC State, who is very capable as well.
The last 6/11 game features (6) Cincinatti vs (11) Texas, and while the Longhorns struggled for a good portion of this season, when Rick Barnes is at the controls, they are always a dangerous team. I realize that its highly unlikely that all of these teams pull the upset, but I wouldn't be surprised to see any of them in the 3rd round.
Now, of course, there's always the chance that we'll see an even bigger upset, a David defeating Goliath. While I can't say that I watched these teams the entire season, here are a few teams that caught my eye during championship week, and that everyone should look out for.
(15) Detroit Titans. While the Titans didn't have a great year, they got hot at the right time, and have now won 10 of their last 11 contest, including over Butler, Cleveland St., and league favorite Valpo. They're playing with great confidence, and shouldn't be overlooked. Detroit will have the task of taking on (2) Kansas in the Midwest Region.
(13) Montana Grizzlies. The Grizzlies handled their business in the Big Sky Conference, going 15-1 in the regular season, and earning the conference's auto-bid. They have now won 14 straight contests, and also own a win over Long Beach State. Montana will take on (4) Wisconsin in the East Region.
(16) LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds. Yes, I realize that a 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed, and I'm not saying that it will happen this year. But, if any has a shot, its LIU. The Northeast Conference champs are athletic, confident, and can put up serious points. If they get hot, I can see this being a game. Of course though, I'm not predicting an upset. LIU Brooklyn will take on (1) Michigan St. in the West region.
So, there you have it. If you're looking for upsets to pick, I'd probably start with these games here. Now go fill out your brackets and try to win that $5 million. Don't miss out this year. For a crack at the 5 million dollar prize, fill out your brackets HERE in the Yahoo! Tourney Pick'em challenge.
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