NCAA Bracket Predictions 2013: Breaking Down the Most Popular Upset Picks

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIMarch 20, 2013

CHAMPAIGN, IL - JANUARY 9: Andre Hollins #1 and Trevor Mbakwe #32 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers celebrate against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the game at Assembly Hall on January 9, 2013 in Champaign, Illinois. Minnesota won 84-67. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With everyone frantically filling out their NCAA tournament brackets before the official deadline, there have been several popular upset picks.

Everyone likes to put in a No. 12 or No. 11 seed advancing to the third round in order to avoid a very boring bracket.  This year is no different, with some very popular lower seeds that could make some big potential splashes.

Let’s break down some of the more popular upset picks.


Minnesota over UCLA

With the injury to Jordan Adams, the Bruins will be without their second best scorer.  This gives the Gophers a big advantage, but that’s not the only thing that makes Minnesota so dangerous.

The Gophers are led by Trevor Mbakwe, the senior forward from St. Paul.  He is the clear leader for the team, providing the energy that this team needs.  As for his numbers, they’re quite impressive.  He’s averaged 10.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, all while shooting an impressive 57 percent from the floor.

Mbakwe is just a piece of the puzzle, and the team as a whole benefits from their ability to get second chances on offense.  They average 14.9 offensive rebounds per game, which is the most by any team in the tournament.  They may not be the best shooting team in the country, but they sure know how to get extra chances to score.

The Gophers are dangerous despite being just a No. 11 seed.  They are a team with some experienced players that can push this Big Ten team to the next round.


Belmont over Arizona

The Belmont Bruins are another popular No. 11 seed to advance.  While some people may not understand why, there is actually a very good reason for a potential upset.

The Wildcats struggle defending the three, while Belmont excels at it.

Three-point defense is the big weakness for the Wildcats.  They allow their opponents to shoot 36 percent from three, which is 276th in the entire nation.  Meanwhile, the Bruins love the three-pointer, making 38.6 percent of their shots from behind the arc.

Ian Clark is the big reason for the team’s terrific shooting.  While averaging an impressive 18.1 points per game, he is shooting 54.1 percent from the field and 46.3 percent from three-point land.

It’s a big mismatch for the Wildcats, and the Bruins will take advantage of it.  Expect a lot of deep shots by the Bruins, as well as the team advancing to the next round.


California over UNLV

If you’ve had UNLV advancing for in previous brackets over the past few years, then you’ve obviously been pretty disappointed in this team.  This year, they have another tough matchup against the Golden Bears.

The Rebels have had a tough stretch of tourney appearances.  Since 2008, they’ve been knocked out by the second round in all four previous appearances.  That kind of streak makes them a likely candidate for an upset, and the Golden Bears have the talent to do so.

The Golden Bears have the Pac-12 Player of the Year in Allen Crabbe, who averages 18.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.  With Justin Cobbs running the show, averaging 4.8 assists and 15.5 points per game, the team can present some difficult mismatches.

Be wary of betting against California.  The Pac-12 teams didn’t get much love in terms of seeding, but they boast some very solid teams.


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