Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday's Most Likely Tournament Upsets

I've been pretty much spot on with my tournament analysis so far, so I'm going to keep rolling the dice with these upset prediction posts until I finally get my comeuppance and am totally wrong. If you've been following along the last few days, though, I've been accurate to a scary degree.

1. (12) North Dakota State over (4) San Diego State
6:10pm on TNT

North Dakota State hit a miracle three at the buzzer to take Oklahoma in overtime where the Bison prevailed. They draw a San Diego State team that doesn't have a lot of size and doesn't play very good interior defense. San Diego State lost twice to New Mexico this season and has struggled to execute in the half court - something NDSU will make them do. The Aztecs are at their best when they can get out and run in transition and use their athleticism, but NDSU is a fundamentally sound team and the best shooting team in the nation, which gives them a great chance to reach the Sweet 16.

2. (7) UConn over (2) Villanova
9:40pm on TBS

Both teams got a bit of a scare in their opener, with UConn being taken to overtime by St Joseph's. Villanova couldn't buy a 3 for much of their game against Milwaukee, allowing the Panthers to hang in well into the second half before the Wildcats finally pulled away. UConn plays a staunch defense, particularly on the perimeter, which could give Villanova's 4-guard lineup problems.

3. (7) Oregon over (2) Wisconsin
7:45pm on CBS

Wisconsin was in a battle with American in the first half, but utterly dominated the Eagles and pulled away for a huge victory. Oregon beat BYU in a shootout. Wisconsin's defense hasn't been great all year and Oregon is one of the best offensive teams in the Pac-12, which could be the recipe for an upset.

4. (9) Pittsburgh over (1) Florida
12:15pm on CBS

Talk radio in Pittsburgh has been throwing around the "what if" scenario on this one since the brackets were announced. The Panthers are playing with house money and if they can continue to dominate on the inside with Zanna and on the outside with Patterson and Wright, they will have a chance to stay close with Florida. The Gators have an experienced lineup that has gone deep in the tournament before, so this doesn't seem highly likely, but Pitt is playing their best basketball of the season, so the possibility exists.

5. (7) Texas over (2) Michigan
5:15pm on CBS

If there is one place on the floor where Michigan is lacking, it is on the inside. Texas big man Cameron Ridley was a force in the paint against Arizona State, finishing with 17 points (including the game-winning basket at the buzzer), 12 rebounds and 4 blocks. If the Longhorns can continue to dominate the glass and in the paint, they'll have a chance to hang around with the Wolverines.

6. (11) Dayton over (3) Syracuse
7:10pm on TBS

The Flyers scored in the closing seconds to upset Ohio State in the first round while Syracuse dominated Western Michigan. Cuse's zone is tough to prepare for in a short turnaround, but Dayton has some players that can shoot from the outside and that can drive. Ultimately, Syracuse should find their way back to the Sweet 16.

7. (12) Harvard over (4) Michigan State
8:40pm on TNT

Tommy Amaker made it deeper into the tournament than Coach K. Make of that what you will. But simply put, Sparty is just playing too well right now. Michigan State dominated Delaware. The Blue Hens battled hard to stay within 10-15 but at the end of the day Michigan State was too good. Harvard is talented enough to keep this close, but Sparty is simply better.

8. (5) St Louis over (4) Louisville
2:45pm on CBS

NC State was my #1 upset pick on Thursday and they almost came through for me until they decided to forget how to shoot free throws and let St Louis back in the game. Ultimately, the Billikens won in overtime. I was scarily accurate with my analysis of the Manhattan-Louisville game in saying that Manhattan would keep it close but Louisville would be too good at the end. The Cardinals are hitting their stride and I have a really hard time seeing St Louis pull this one out and reach the Sweet 16.

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