Ole Miss will be looking to cause another shock against Wisconsin Badgers
Everyone loves an upset, right? A great effort from an underdog that triumphs over their more illustrious opponents is, in many ways, one of the best things about sports at any level.
As we head toward Round 1 of the NCAA Bracket, there will be opportunities for some of the lower-seeded teams to get one over their more distinguished opponents.
It would certainly be in keeping with the notorious reputation this stage of the tournament has, as we have seen some of the big seeds embarrassed in the opening round down the years.
So as March Madness gets right into its stride, which of the double-digit seeds looks most likely to turn the tables on one of the favourites?
Here are my three most likely picks for the Round 1 potential upsets:
Wisconsin Badgers (5) vs. Mississippi Rebels (12)
Fresh off of a shock win against the Florida Gators, Ole Miss will certainly fancy their chances up against the No. 5 seed, the Wisconsin Badgers.
Murphy Holloway and Marshall Henderson were the star-men for Ole Miss as they picked up the SEC Title at the Gators expense. They helped themselves to 23 and 21 points respectively.
If the Rebels are going to pull off another shock, then the latter-mentioned Henderson will have to be at his best once again. His maverick-type displays have certainly caught the eye throughout the campaign.
If Wisconsin allows him the time to settle, he will have no problem helping himself to another points haul.
Expect to see Henderson looking for plenty of the ball early on, getting shots off briskly and rushing the Badgers into rash defensive decisions. If he can find his rhythm quickly, then there is no reason the Rebels cannot continue their fantastic run. A run of form which has seen them victorious in seven of their last eight outings.
Iowa State Cyclones (10) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7)
A tough draw for the Irish, as they will go head-to-head with a free-scoring Cyclones outfit.
The Irish have been on a pretty good run themselves recently, but Iowa are the type of team capable of pulling off a shock at this stage of the competition.
It is not a contest that the Irish will fancy, as Iowa have a hugely physical style to compliment their attacking firepower. An offensive armory which has been firing at will so far this campaign.
The Cyclones currently average the joint-fourth highest total points per game in the country, whilst they also have six players on their roster that are averaging more than nine points-per-game.
The Cyclones have the ability to start off fast and if they get ahead early, their style will make them especially difficult to peg back. They will score heavily regardless of the opposition and this will ultimately see them through in this one.
Belmont Bruins (11) vs. Arizona Wildcats (6)
Out of all the games in the opening round, the Bruins are the most likely to cause an upset.
Why? Well, they have a skill set that looks almost perfectly tailored toward exposing the weaknesses in the Wildcats' game.
The Bruins are in many ways the archetypal upset side. They can be poor defensively, but their gung-ho attacking mentality can pose problems for even the sternest of opposition.
This will be to the detriment of the Wildcats, as Arizona has had trouble defending its three-point line. The Wildcats are often sluggish in their pressing and unable to stop the opposition shooters from firing.
To compound this, the Bruins like to move the ball quickly around the opposition three-point line and laterally stretch opposition defences. If Belmont can dictate the tempo of the contest early on, the Wildcats will not be able to keep them out for any sustained period.
This certainly will have not gone unnoticed by long-standing head coach Rick Byrd. His Bruins squad has really sharpened up their shooting from the three in recent contests. They should have all the tools at hand to exploit the flaws in their opponents armoury.
Expect to see the Bruins peppering their opponents basket from the three-point line. They will attempt to win this one by manoeuvring space around the three with slick passing, and ultimately their sharper distance shooting from the space they can manufacture.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section!