High Seeds in NCAA Tourney Most Likely to Get Upset
We all want to be that guy bragging to his buddies at the office after he correctly predicted the biggest upset in his bracket. At the same time, no one wants to be the butt of every joke when our Final Four team gets knocked out on Day 2.
The beauty of March Madness is its leveling of the sports-fan playing field. Its unpredictability is fascinating. You, as an avid fan and supporter of various teams, will fill out a bracket with confidence, yet will still lose the family March Madness pool to your grandmother who only put Duke in the finals because her cousin's grandson went there. It is all part of the fun.
This year in particular, no one looks perfect. So many teams have sandwiched flashes of brilliance between two catastrophic losses to unranked teams. The top dogs have each shown a glimpse of what to expect during the postseason, and with the trend of top-ranked teams going down this season, it would not be the least bit surprising to see a bunch of them go down again.
Oklahoma State, and their No. 22 ranking, is the only ranked team Gonzaga has knocked off this year, and it was by one point. If anyone tells you that they have great confidence in Gonzaga making a deep tournament run, they are lying.
The 'Zags are currently the No. 1 team in the nation, and barring anything ridiculous, will be a No. 1 seed in the tournament. They have stomped through an unimpressive West Coast conference schedule to a 16-0 mark in conference.
This is a team that prides themselves on fundamentals and finding easy shots. They are shooting over 50 percent from the field for the season and are 10th in the nation in points per game. However, in their three games against ranked opponents, they have not cracked 74 points.
The main weakness exposed has been their inability to slow down dynamic perimeter scorers. Illinois' Brandon Paul, OK State's Marcus Smart, Baylor's Pierre Jackson and Saint Mary's Matthew Dellavedova have all demolished Gonzaga this year.
All it might take in the tournament is for one player to get hot and knock them out, as they have not shown the wherewithal to stop a big-time wing player.
Four of the Jayhawks' five losses this year were to unranked teams. Although they are loaded with talent, they have been one of the more polarizing teams in the country with their unpredictability.
The one thing Bill Self's squad has been consistent with is sub-par road performances. Besides their 12-point overtime victory at Iowa State, Kansas' biggest road win in conference play was by five points at Texas. They have consistently shown that they are not at all comfortable playing away from home.
Early on, Kansas showed a pension for underperforming at neutral locations as well, losing to Michigan State and almost losing to an abysmal Oregon State team.
On paper, this team can beat anyone. For whatever reason, they have a tendency to play down to their competition, making them a prime upset candidate.
It is hard to find a flaw in Louisville's season. Aside from a mild three-game losing streak in conference, they have had an incredible season. Their two other losses were a five-point loss to Duke and a five-overtime game at Notre Dame.
Calling Louisville an upset candidate is not at all a common theme amongst analysts at the moment, but they lack depth along the front line.
Of late, center Gorgui Dieng has been playing phenomenal basketball during their current seven-game winning streak. He is the only player in their rotation bigger than 6'8".
The Cardinals are not the same team when Dieng is off the floor. They are a perimeter-oriented team that relies on their stable big man to be a game-changer in the paint. A couple quick fouls on him and their entire game-plan goes out the window.
Miami's majestic run through the ACC has overshadowed their embarrassing losses.
Five of their six losses have been shameful. They got demolished by Arizona and Wake Forest as well as going down to Georgia Tech. The worst two were losing by 12 at Florida Gulf Coast and losing in overtime to Indiana State.
The Hurricanes are underwhelming on offense. Led by guard Shane Larkin, they are 129th in the country in scoring and are one of the worst passing teams in the nation at only 11 assists per game as a team. Their bad losses alone are concerning enough, but the fact that they struggle so often scoring the ball puts them in dangerous company.
This team also has only four tournament victories in school history. They have never been here before, and they will be in unfamiliar territory at the top of the pecking order. Lower seeds will be seething to prove that Miami's season was a fluke.
ESPN's bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently has the Lobos as a No. 3 seed. The darlings from the Mountain West have played a daunting schedule for a small-conference school this season to a 26-5 record.
Yet another powerhouse from a tiny conference with question marks. The New Mexico's, Gonzaga's and the St. Mary's of the field will always come with big red flags due to strength of schedule. However, New Mexico is 15th in the country in strength of schedule and sports big wins over Cincinnati, UConn and UNLV.
New Mexico's problem is offensive consistency. Sporting a team field-goal percentage under 42 percent, the Lobos have games where they explode for 80-90 points, but then will not be able to hit water if they fell off of a boat on other occasions. They had a 46-point game against Saint Louis and a disastrous 34-point game against San Diego State.
One poor offensive game like that in the tourney will put too much pressure on their defense. A lot of these lower seeds and mid-majors have nothing to lose and will not be shy offensively. Whether or not New Mexico can keep up is a huge question mark.