NCAA tournament: Second Round Upset Special
The best part of the NCAA tournament is when a team starts as an ugly step-sister, but turns into a Cinderella. Starting with this article, I will be looking at the teams that can place that shiny slipper on their foot–in each round. There are some great match-ups in the #12 vs. #5 set of games, and we will see at least one #12 knock off a #5 this year.
What does not constitute as an upset? A #9 beating a #8, as this is more of a “we could have flip-flopped these two and ended up picking by drawing straws.”
My upset picks for the 2015 Big Dance are as follows:
11 BYU over 6 Xavier
Yes, BYU has to get past Ole Miss in the First Four, but this Cougars team plays with an intensity that is unmatched by most teams. I have watched them on several occasions this season, and this offense can score in bunches. The only downfall to this team though, is that they tend to forget to play defense in stretches of a game. Guard Tyler Hawes is silky-smooth as the Cougars floor general, and averages 21.9 ppg, to go along with a .876 free throw percentage. There is no doubt that Hawes can score, but will he be able to find open teammates when it matters most? Most likely, because the Cougars average 16.8 assists per game, and have the second best scoring average in the NCAA at 83.6 ppg.
12 Buffalo over 5 West Virginia
This is the first ever trip for the Buffalo Bulls to the NCAA Tournament, but they won’t just be making an appearance, they will be adding an upset win over West Virginia to their resume as well. This is the hardest upset to pick because of the inconsistent play of WVU and the possible return of senior guard, Juwan Staten and his 14.5 ppg and 4.6 apg. WVU runs a full-court press style defense, but how much do they have left in the tank after a long season? ESPN thinks that Buffalo has the greatest chance of winning of all #12 seeds as well. I think that fatigue catches up to them in this game, and Buffalo pulls away late in a classic.
11 Texas over 6 Butler
ESPN says that Texas has a 37.8% chance of upsetting Butler, but I think that it is even higher than that. Texas played in one of the deepest conferences in the country, the Big 12, and had to go up against tough competition. They went 3-10 against ranked teams this season, but quite possibly played their best basketball down the stretch and in the Big 12 Conference Tournament; losing a close game against a ranked Iowa State team in the conference tournament (69-67). This is going to be a low-scoring affair, and is guaranteed to be a very physical game. Both teams can struggle on offense at times, but this will most likely come down to the better rebounding performance. Also keep an eye on Longhorns freshman forward, Myles Turner, as he is a block-monster, providing 88 blocks on the season.
While there might be some better upset picks available, I think that these three games provide the best chance for us to see the lower seed advance.
After all, they don’t call it March Madness for no reason, and 2015 will just add to that moniker.
Dustin Brown covers NCAA Men’s Basketball for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @SprtsWritingMan.