Teams on Upset Alert in Day 6 of NCAA Tournament
Who will be the next Georgetown or New Mexico?
Upsets become less and less common the deeper we get in the NCAA tournament, but this isn't just any other year. Sunday could be another wild day.
It feels like Cinderella Florida Gulf Coast is not ready to go away yet. The best scorer in the country (Creighton's Doug McDermott) is an underdog. North Carolina is in the rare role of underdog. And Minnesota, a team once ranked in the top 10, is a double-digit seed.
Here are the teams that should be on upset alert Sunday.
Ohio State (No. 2 West) vs. Iowa State
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This is one of the few times a No. 10 seed has a better offense than the No. 2 seed.
Iowa State, according to KenPom.com, ranks eighth in adjusted offensive efficiency compared to 15th for Ohio State.
Most teams that rely heavily on the three have some inconsistencies, but that's hardly the case for the Cyclones, who shoot 37.2 percent from deep and attempt nearly 44 percent of their shots from there.
Fred Hoiberg puts five players on the floor who can all shoot and score. The Buckeyes are great defensively, but the Cyclones are one low seed you don't want to face in a one-game elimination tournament.
Kansas (No. 1 South) vs. North Carolina
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Iowa State took Kansas to overtime twice. What North Carolina has done since going small is essentially replicate the Iowa State attack that was the worst matchup for Kansas in the Big 12.
Roy Williams' teams traditionally want to try to get a good number of inside touches and attack inside-out, but the small-ball Heels are content with taking quick threes and taking a lot of them. They've attempted 50 in the last two games, making 24.
This is a good strategy against a Kansas defense that is tough to score against in the half court and at the rim because of Jeff Withey. Withey is among the nation's leaders in blocked shots, and KU opponents shoot only 39 percent inside the arc.
Florida (No. 3 South) vs. Minnesota
The Minnesota Golden Gophers have the athletes to match up with Florida and also could be playing for Tubby Smith's job.
Minnesota's underachieving team has put Smith in a tough spot because of several up-and-down seasons. Some days, this team is capable of beating Indiana. And then that same roster loses three straight to Nebraska, Purdue and Illinois.
The Gophers looked like the version that beat IU in the Round of 64 in a 20-point win against UCLA. The key could be Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins. The two players who share the same last name (no relation) are Minnesota's best two shooters and went 9-of-14 combined from deep against the Bruins.
The Gophers need both to score against Florida, and they also need Andre to play solid at the point. Turnovers have been an issue for Minnesota, and Florida's aggressive defense will try to take advantage of that.
San Diego State (No. 7 South) vs. Florida Gulf Coast
Cinderella stories like Florida Gulf Coast's are usually short-lived—No. 15 seeds have never won a second game in the NCAA tournament.
What makes the Eagles different is they prepped for these games by playing a nonconference schedule that included Miami, Duke, St. John's and Iowa State. Gulf Coast now has two wins (Miami and Georgetown) that stack up to just about any team's best two wins.
The Eagles, as you may have noticed, also have the athletes to run with any of the big schools.
To pull off another upset of San Diego State, Gulf Coast needs to keep shooting the three well—17-of-35 in its last two games—and keep pushing the pace. The Eagles also need another big game out of star guard Sherwood Brown, who scored 24 against Georgetown.
Duke (No. 2 Midwest) vs. Creighton
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Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel wrote a nice story on Creighton's Doug McDermott and how Duke made many recruiting trips to his high school in Ames, Iowa, but never had any interest in him.
The Blue Devils were recruiting his teammate, Harrison Barnes, who ultimately decided to go to North Carolina. On Sunday, McDermott will be arguably the best player on the floor.
That alone gives the Bluejays a chance. It also helps that they're the best three-point shooting team in the nation, at 42.2 percent.