Teams on Upset Alert in Day 4 of NCAA Tournament
Harvard, you provided the madness.
The first day of the tourney (the play-in round does not count) nearly made it to the end without a great Cinderella story. Sorry New Mexico. It had to happen.
Until the Crimson, the almost upsets by Davidson and Southern were the highlights of the day. The other upset specials were relatively tame. Two No. 12 seeds (California and Oregon) moved on, but that's not all that unusual. We're used to that.
Now all the underdogs will try to be like the kids from Harvard. Figures. Many of grow up wanting to be like the kids from Harvard.
Will the second day give us another big upset? Or more Davidsons and Southerns? Here are the teams that should be on alert on Friday.
Wisconsin (No. 5 West Region)
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Ole Miss has won five straight, and the Marshall Henderson show loves an audience.
College basketball's favorite perturber isn't all antics and no production, either. Henderson is averaging 23.4 points per game and has made at least three threes in every game of the winning streak.
The Rebels are not a great defensive team, but Bo Ryan's offense is not up to its usual production. A reason to not bet on Ole Miss is how Wisconsin has defended the three-point line and the Big Ten's best three-point specialist this year.
Opponents knock down only 29.2 percent from deep. Indiana's Jordan Hulls, a 46.4 percent three-point shooter, made only 1-of-8 against the Badgers.
Whether or not Henderson can find space will likely determine if the show goes on.
UCLA (No. 6 South Region)
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Maybe this should be reversed, as in Minnesota should be on upset alert. Vegas has Minnesota as the favorite, and the Bruins will be without second-leading scorer Jordan Adams.
Adams scored 17-plus points in six of his last eight games, and UCLA had won seven of those eight before losing the Pac-12 tourney championship to Oregon.
The Gophers are arguably the more talented team even if the Bruins were at full strength. You just never know whether the Minnesota that beat Indiana or the one that lost to Northwestern, Nebraska and Purdue is going to show up.
San Diego State (No. 7 South Region)
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Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger never had much success against San Diego State, going 5-13 when he was with UNLV.
Most of Kruger's teams in Vegas were led by guards, and he has a different group in Norman, led by big man Romero Osby as his go-to player.
The Aztecs' interior defense against good post players has been a weakness. In two recent losses to New Mexico, for instance, Lobos big men Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow combined for 72 points in the two contests.
The Sooners will likely feed Osby as much as possible and hope to ride their big man to the win.
Ohio State (No. 2 West)
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Last season, Norfolk State and Lehigh were led by future pros that helped pull off the respective upsets of No. 2 seeds Missouri and Duke.
The key for both was to have one player—like a Kyle O'Quinn or C.J. McCollum—who could go off in one game.
Iona has that player in Lamont Jones, who will likely be a pro sometime next season. Jones also has the experience of playing against top-tier teams. He transferred after two seasons at Arizona and has thrived at Iona, where he is averaging 23 points per game this year.
The Gaels play at a fast pace and average 81 points per game. After playing Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship, that will be a drastic change for the Buckeyes. Iona is also confident it can beat Ohio State on Friday.
Notre Dame (No. 7 West Region)
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Recent history is against Notre Dame on Friday.
Mike Brey's team has played to its seed only once in its last five NCAA tournaments.
Last season, the Irish lost in the opening round to Xavier. In 2011, they lost in the round of 32 to 10th-seeded Florida State. In 2010, they lost in the round of 64 to 11th-seeded Old Dominion. And they also lost in 2007 to No. 11 Winthrop.
As for Iowa State, coach Fred Hoiberg is 1-1 in the NCAA tournament, and his team pushed Kentucky last season in the round of 32.
Miami (No. 2 East Region)
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Miami has lost to a No. 15 seed already this season. On Nov. 13, it lost at Florida Gulf Coast.
The Hurricanes have obviously come a long way since that game, but the loss to Gulf Coast gives Pacific some built-in confidence.
Pacific should also have a team that can handle the moment. Like the 'Canes, the Tigers roster is filled with upperclassmen. They also shoot the three really well (38.3 percent).
A hot start for Pacific from deep could get the 'Canes doubting themselves and thinking back to Nov. 13.
Creighton (No. 7 Midwest)
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The Big East did not exactly have a banner day on Thursday with Marquette nearly losing to Davidson and Pittsburgh getting rolled by Wichita State.
That is good news for the Bluejays. However, unlike Marquette and Pitt, the Bearcats should feel like they're playing with house money in this tournament.
Few expect the Bearcats to win, as they lost seven of their last 13 games down the stretch.
Cincinnati also has the defense—rated the 14th-best by KenPom.com—to match up with one of the best offenses in the country.
Georgetown (No. 2 South)
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Georgetown is one of the top seeds with a really bad loss (South Florida) this season; Florida Gulf Coast is one of the low seeds with a really good win (Miami).
Half the battle for a No. 15 seed is believing, and the Eagles should enter Friday's game with some faith.
It also helps that they played a team that plays a similar style to the Hoyas when they beat Mercer in their conference championship game. Mercer, like Georgetown, tries to slow the pace. Gulf Coast wants to play fast, and that helped it beat Mercer 88-75.
The Eagles will need to try to speed up the Hoyas to pull off their second big upset of the year.