Upset Meter for Every Sweet 16 Game

Jake Curtis@jakecurtis53Featured ColumnistMarch 25, 2013

Upset Meter for Every Sweet 16 Game

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    Three teams seeded No. 12 or lower have reached the Sweet 16, indicating upsets are very much a part of the 2013 NCAA tournament.

    More surprises may be in store in the next round Thursday and Friday. Our upset meter rates the likelihood that the lower seed will win each of the eight Sweet 16 games.

    The Upset Meter has three settings:

    – HIGH, meaning an upset is likely; 

    – MEDIUM, suggesting an upset is possible; 

    – LOW, meaning an upset is unlikely.


    The games are listed in the order in which they will be played. For each game, we look at five issues:

    1. The challenges facing the underdog;

    2. Significant statistics of the teams involved;

    3. An X-factor that could result in an upset;

    4. The Betting Line, which is provided by;

    5. The Upset Meter Rating.

No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 2 Miami (East)

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    When: Thursday at 7:15 p.m. ET


    The Challenge: This is a virtual tossup game in terms of seedings, so a Marquette victory would not be a major upset. Miami point guard Shane Larkin is shaping up as one of the stars of the postseason. The chore for Marquette point guard Junior Cadougan is to prevent Larkin from controlling the game.


    The Noteworthy Numbers: Three points is Marquette's combined margin of victory in its two tournament games. The Golden Eagles have played 12 games this season that were either decided by four points or fewer or went into overtime, and they've won eight of them.

    Miami's Larkin played 40 minutes in the victory over Illinois and 40 minutes in the win over North Carolina in the ACC tournament final.

    The X-Factor: The outside shooting of Marquette's Vander Blue may be the determining factor. Coming into the NCAA tournament, Blue was just a 26.6 percent three-point shooter for his career. But he hit 3-of-4 three-pointers while scoring 29 points in the two-point win over Butler.

    The Betting Line: Miami by 5.5 points.

    Upset Probability Meter Rating: Medium.

No. 6 Arizona vs. No. 2 Ohio State (West)

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    When: Thursday at 7:47 p.m.


    The Challenge: Arizona point guard Mark Lyons is critical to the Wildcats' success. But he will presumably be guarded by Ohio State's Aaron Craft, one of the best perimeter defenders in the country, according to's Jeff Borzello, among others. Lyons has to make an impact somehow.

    Arizona must find a way to control Deshaun Thomas, the Buckeyes' only big-time scorer.


    The Noteworthy Numbers: The erratic Lyons has come up big in the postseason, scoring 23 and 27 points in the two NCAA tournament games. But he has nearly as many turnovers (92) as assists (99) this season. Lyons is the only player to reach the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons while playing for different teams (Lyons played for Xavier last year).

    Ohio State has won 10 straight games and has outscored its opponents by an average of 9.1 points in the second half of those games.

    The X-Factor: Arizona's Solomon Hill, the team's No. 2 scorer, has hit 5-of-7 three-point shots in the postseason. However, he has taken only 12 shots in the two games. He needs to get more shots and score more points.

    The Betting Line: Ohio State by four points.

    Upset Probability Meter Rating: Low.

No. 4 Syracuse vs. No. 1 Indiana (East)

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    When: Thursday at 9:45 p.m. ET


    The Challenge: Indiana is one of the top three-point shooting teams in the country. It also has a strong inside game with Cody Zeller. It is up to Syracuse's trademark zone defense to extend far enough to prevent the Hoosiers from having open looks from the perimeter while not giving Zeller too much room inside. 


    The Noteworthy Numbers: Despite the notion that zone defenses are susceptible to outside shooting, Syracuse ranks sixth in the nation in three-point field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 28.9 percent from long range, according to 

    Indiana guard Victor Oladipo is averaging just 13.6 points, but he has scored in double figures in 29 of the past 33 games.

    The X-Factor: Syracuse's Brandon Triche, the team's No. 2 scorer, scored 10 points or less in seven of the Orange's final 15 games. Syracuse lost six of those seven, with the only win being the shaky six-point victory over Cal when Triche had eight points. Syracuse was 8-0 in that span when Triche scored more than 10 points.

    The Betting Line: Indiana by 5.5 points

    Upset Probability Meter Rating: Low.

No. 13 La Salle vs. No. 9 Wichita State (West)

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    When: Thursday at 10:17 p.m. ET.


    The Challenge: La Salle has been playing with four guards and a forward in the postseason. Rebounding is not its strong suit, and Wichita State ranks seventh in the country in rebounding margin. To pull off another upset, the tiny Explorers will have to prevent the Shockers from dominating the offensive boards.


    The Noteworthy Numbers: La Salle is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1955, when only 24 teams were in the field. The Explorers' top three scorers are all 6'3" or shorter.

    Despite ranking seventh nationally in rebounding margin, Wichita State yielded 21 offensive rebounds to Gonzaga, but the Shockers still won.

    The X-Factor: La Salle's 6'11" center, Steve Zack, has missed the past six games with a sprained foot. It's uncertain whether he'll play against Wichita State. If he does play, he can help the Explorers neutralize the Shockers' size advantage.

    The Betting Line: Wichita State by four points.

    Upset Probability Meter Rating: High

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 12 Oregon (Midwest)

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    When: Friday at 7:15 p.m. ET

    The Challenge: Oregon has a habit of committing turnovers in bunches, and Louisville relies on forcing turnovers to create havoc and squash its opponent’s will. The Cardinals were second in the nation in steals during the regular season and had 31 steals in their first two postseason games. The Ducks must handle Louisville’s constant pressure to have a chance.

    The Noteworthy numbers: Louisville has won 12 straight games, all but one by a double-digit margin. The Ducks, meanwhile, are 23-4 with freshman point guard Dominic Artis in the starting lineup.

    The large gap in the teams' seeds suggests an Oregon victory would be the biggest upset of the Sweet 16. It probably would be, since the Cardinals are the No. 1 overall seed. However, The Oregonian reported that a number of analysts claim the Ducks should have been seeded several slots higher than they were.

    The X-Factor: Oregon's Carlos Emory can provide a major boost with his scoring off the bench.

    The Betting Line: Louisville by 10 points

    Upset Probability Meter Rating: Low.

No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 1 Kansas (South)

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    When: Friday at 7:37 p.m. ET


    The Challenge: Kansas ranks first in the country in field-goal percentage defense. The presence of 7'0" shot-blocker Jeff Withey in the middle is a major reason for that. Wolverines center Mitch McGary, who was outstanding against Virginia Commonwealth, needs to hold his own against Withey.


    The Noteworthy Numbers: Michigan's Trey Burke, the Big Ten Player of the Year, had a season-high seven turnovers against Virginia Commonwealth and is just 2-of-11 on three-pointers in the postseason. Kansas' Ben McLemore, a first-team All-Big 12 selection, went 0-of-9 for a season-low two points against North Carolina. He is 0-of-8 from three-point range in the postseason.


    The X-Factor: Michigan's Nik Stauskas is hitting 43.4 percent of his three-pointers for the season. But he has made just 1-of-12 shots from long range in his past three games. A hot shooting game by Stauskas could be the difference.

    The Betting Line: Kansas by two points.

    Upset Probability Meter Rating: High.

No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Duke (Midwest)

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    When: Friday at 9:45 p.m. ET


    The Challenge: Duke has a strong inside game with Mason Plumlee, and it has perimeter threats in 6'11" Ryan Kelly and guard Seth Curry. That will stretch Michigan State's defense. However, Michigan State is the epitome of a physical team, and teams that are physical with Duke have given the Blue Devils problems.


    The Noteworthy Numbers: Kelly is hitting 45.9 percent of his three-pointers for the season, but he is 0-of-10 from long range in his past four games. Kelly had four fouls in the victory over Creighton, and two other key frontcourt players for Duke, Plumlee and Josh Hairston, both fouled out.

    Michigan State is in the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in the past six years.


    The X-Factor: Michigan State point guard Keith Appling is expected to play Friday despite missing the final minutes of the last game because of an injured shoulder. He needs to avoid re-injuring it.

    The Betting Line: Duke by 1.5 points.


    Upset Probability Meter Rating: Medium.

No. 3 Florida vs. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast (South)

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    When: Friday at 9:57 p.m. ET


    The Challenge: Florida Gulf Coast has become the story of the tournament. The Eagles must continue to play free and easy despite the growing national attention. The key is to stay close until the final minutes, because Florida has not fared well in close games this season. The Eagles must handle Florida's defensive pressure and continue to be efficient in their transition game.


    The Noteworthy Numbers: Florida is 0-6 this season in games decided by six points or fewer. Florida Gulf Coast is in just its second season of Division I postseason eligibility.

    Florida Gulf Coast point guard Brett Comer has 24 assists and five turnovers in the postseason.

    The Eagles did not win the Atlantic Sun regular season title, finishing second to Mercer. Florida Gulf Coast went 0-2 this season against Lipscomb, which finished ninth in the Atlantic Sun and was 12-18 overall.


    The X-Factor: For Florida Gulf Coast, the X-factor is not a player, a coach or a statistic. It's a feeling. The Eagles are riding a wave of emotion and being pushed along by public sentiment. They will be the crowd favorite in any game they play in this postseason. That can be a major boost. 

    The Betting Line: Florida by 12.5 points.


    Upset Probability Meter Rating: Medium.