NCAA Tournament Teams on Upset Alert in the Round of 64
The first round of March Madness is complete, and we are ready to open the full schedule of games of the second round.
Without a doubt, we will see close calls, buzzer-beaters and full-fledged upsets from this point on in the tournament.
Following are 10 teams on upset alert.
If they don't bring it for 40 minutes, they could be making quick exits.
Marquette Golden Eagles
Marquette has received very little love this season, even though the Golden Eagles put up a 23-8 record and finished tied for first in the Big East.
Their No. 3 seed was a little surprising, though they had quality wins against Georgetown, Syracuse, Wisconsin and Notre Dame.
They are opening up against a unique Davidson team that is the best free-throw-shooting team in the country and can hit shots from all over the floor.
While Davidson doesn’t have a superstar player, big man Jake Cohen can do damage on the inside or outside.
Some teams just thrive in March Madness. Davidson is a program that always seems to elevate its game at the right time.
Butler has become a March Madness favorite after making it to the NCAA championship game in consecutive years in 2010 and '11.
Brad Stevens is an excellent coach, but the Bulldogs will have to bring their A-game this year as well.
They now have the target on their back. They are no longer David, but Goliath. And they are facing an under-the-radar Bucknell Bison team that will undoubtedly embrace playing on the big stage.
Their biggest win this year is against La Salle, but they are a veteran team led by a versatile big man in Mike Muscala. The Bison take care of the ball (No. 5 nationally in turnovers) and hold their opponents to a low shooting percentage (.378, No. 7 nationally).
Last year, nobody gave Lehigh a prayer against Duke. Does anybody think that a Patriot League team can pull off a monster upset again?
The Memphis Tigers had a fantastic 2012-13 season, going 30-4 and winning the Conference USA regular season and postseason tourney.
Josh Pastner has been building the program in the post-John Calipari years, and this could be a year that the Tigers break through and make another decent run in the tournament.
But they are playing a pesky Saint Mary’s team that is not to be taken lightly. These Gaels rank in the top 30 in a number of offensive categories.
Matthew Dellavedova, one of the most versatile point guards in the country, can take over games and neutralize the skills of a team like the Tigers.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that the Gaels had to win their way into this game. They are confident and ready to make some noise.
Illinois Fighting Illini
If Illinois could play all its games at home, I would have it in my Final Four. The Fighting Illini are a tough team when they play at Assembly Hall at Champaign-Urbana.
This year, U of I beat Ohio State and Indiana at home. Unfortunately, on the road, it was a mediocre 5-6.
The Illini's opening-round opponent is the No. 10-seeded Colorado Buffaloes, and CU is like a lot of double-digit seeds in March Madness in that it had plenty of quality wins. For the Buffaloes, those came against Arizona, Pac-12 tourney champs Oregon (twice), Colorado State and Cal.
Andre Roberson is a double-double workhorse down low, and the Buffs are a team that will take it strong to the hole and get to the line often.
These are two evenly matched teams in the first round. It definitely could go either way.
The No. 6 seed UCLA Bruins' season has been filled with ups and downs. They have had to incorporate a host of new players and try to establish chemistry on the fly.
Even when you have a player as talented as Shabazz Muhammad lighting it up for you, things don’t always go smoothly.
UCLA was erratic in the first month-and-a-half of the season, losing an early game to Cal Poly. More recently, the Bruins were putting it all together, beating Arizona three times.
But during the Pac-12 tournament, UCLA lost its second-leading scorer, Jordan Adams, to a broken foot. So, as they open against No. 11 seed Minnesota, they are facing a significant challenge even as the favorite.
The Golden Gophers have a super-strong frontcourt that was able to do work against Indiana, Michigan State, Memphis and Wisconsin.
If the Bruins can find scoring from some other source, they may make it to the round of 32. If not, Bruins coach Ben Howland could be on the hot seat.
San Diego State Aztecs
San Diego State needs to prove that it isn't simply a strong regular-season program. The Aztecs have lost two of their last three opening games of the NCAA tournament.
Their 22-10 record this year is solid, but they have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games.
SDSU faces the No. 10-seeded Oklahoma Sooners. With OU making it this year, coach Lon Kruger has taken five different programs to the Big Dance—a definite plus.
The Sooners have quality Big 12 wins against Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma State—all tourney teams.
OU has an athletic team that can bring fresh legs for 40 minutes. This one may come down to who can better hit free throws in crunch time.
No. 6 seed Arizona started off the season looking like it was ready to challenge for this year’s NCAA championship.
The Wildcats had impressive December wins against Miami, Florida and San Diego State. They were ranked as high as No. 3 in the AP poll in late December and No. 7 to start the month of February.
From that point on, Sean Miller’s squad has played terribly inconsistently, going 5-5 to finish out.
If the early-season Cats show up for their Thursday tipoff against Belmont, then they will advance without much issue.
But if unpredictable Arizona takes the court against the Bruins in Salt Lake City, then there is no telling what will happen.
UNLV has the rare challenge of playing an opponent it already faced earlier in the season for its opening round.
In early December, the Rebels beat Cal, 76-75, on a last-second putback.
The Bears are not your average No. 12 seed. They had a super-solid February when they beat Oregon and UCLA at home and Arizona and Oregon on the road. That’s a quality month.
ESPN Stats and Information reports that, “The Mountain West Conference is 5-28 against Power 6 conference opponents in the NCAA Tournament (3-17 in Round of 64, 2-7 in Round of 32, 0-4 in Sweet 16).”
While the past may not dictate the future, the Rebels will need to break out of this trend to avoid an unfortunate upset Thursday.
At times, No. 5 seed Wisconsin has played as well as any team in the nation.
The Badgers beat Indiana and Michigan two times each, along with victories against Ohio State, Minnesota and Illinois.
They've also lost their share of games, dropping two contests to both Ohio State and Michigan State and losing to Florida, Marquette and Creighton.
The Badgers' biggest challenge some nights is putting the ball in the basket. In nine of their 11 losses, they failed to score 60 points.
Wisconsin's first matchup, Ole Miss, likes to shoot threes in bunches and get teams into a track meet. The Rebels average 78.2 points per game (seventh in the nation).
If the Badgers don't control the pace of this one, their 2013 March Madness appearance could be a short one. It's unlikely they'd be able to keep up with Ole Miss in a shootout.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowyboys have shown that they can take down some good teams, like Kansas and Kansas State, but they have also lost to some less-than-stellar teams (e.g. Baylor and Virginia Tech).
The selection committee didn’t do OSU any favors by matching it up against Pac-12 conference tourney winner Oregon. How a power conference tournament champ like the Ducks ends up a No. 12 seed is beyond my understanding.
One of the main factors that makes Dana Altman’s squad so dangerous is that it just got point guard Dominic Artis back from injury.
In games with Artis this season, the Ducks are 21-4. Without him, 5-4.
This could end up being one of the best opening-round games in the tournament.
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