5 Upsets You Didn't See Coming in NCAA Round of 64

Justin Hussong@@HeatChecksHussContributor IIIMarch 17, 2014

5 Upsets You Didn't See Coming in NCAA Round of 64

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    We all yearn to be that guy in the office who brags about how he picked the George Masons and the Florida Gulf Coasts of the bracket, but unfortunately, we are not all so clairvoyant.

    There is almost always one or two upset picks that are sure to make you the butt of every joke...until they actually happen. You don't want the upset picks that everyone has; you want your very own so that all your friends and employees respect you and only you!

    If only it were all so simple. With the NCAA tournament bracket now set, a quick rundown will unveil some trendy upset picks, but we are going to go deeper than that.

    It will be hard to justify your outrageous first-round picks or maybe even your double-digit seed Final Four picks.

    But, as a wise man once said: YOLO.

No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 5 VCU

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    When the average fan hears the name "Stephen F. Austin," the first thing that comes to mind is likely a memory of Stone Cold Steve Austin demolishing one of his hapless opponents via his famous "Stunner" move.

    No? Maybe that's just me.

    The Lumberjacks have won 28 games in a row and have not lost since before Thanksgiving. They have obviously not played a schedule up to the standards of even a team like VCU, but a winning streak that long is not to be taken lightly.

    Stone Cold Stephen F. Austin knows how to move the ball, score and do it efficiently. It also plays sound defense and stirs up a bunch of turnovers to get out and run. The only caveat is that its biggest weakness is one of VCU's strong suits: rebounding.

    The Lumberjacks will undoubtedly be focusing greatly on the boards since it is the most obvious difference between the two teams. If they can ride their momentum into the round of 64 and use that energy on the glass, they definitely could take down VCU, a team that still has its Final Four run of a few years ago still fresh in the minds of the people.

    Many will just overlook this upset, but that would be a monumental mistake.

No. 12 North Dakota State over No. 5 Oklahoma

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    North Dakota State led the entire nation this season by shooting 51 percent from the floor. It knows how to score a lot of points, and it knows how to do it as efficiently as possible.

    Oklahoma ranked 308th nationally in points allowed, giving up 75.9 per night. It came out of the grueling Big 12 with a 12-6 conference record, good for second behind Kansas.

    That's great, but it has felt all year like the forgotten little brother among the bunch. Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Baylor are teams that get more recognition nationally. Oklahoma is just kind of there.

    On the court, this is not a favorable matchup for the Sooners whatsoever. Contributing to the doubt is the fact that Oklahoma starts three sophomores and a freshman.

    North Dakota State's rotation consists of five seniors with a sophomore and a junior mixed in here and there. It has considerably more experience and is less likely to shrink on the big stage.

    Experience versus youth. Efficiency versus poor defense. Throw in a nice nine-game winning streak and North Dakota State looks like a very solid upset pick.

No. 13 Manhattan over No. 4 Louisville

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    This is where we start to get a little crazy.

    The MAAC champion Manhattan Jaspers will take on defending champion Louisville, a horribly under-seeded team in the Midwest Region.

    Louisville and coach Rick Pitino obviously have been around the block a few times, and surely, if you pick Manhattan, you are likely to get a good ribbing from your comrades in whatever pool you enter. On paper, Manhattan just might be able to cook up a recipe to stop the Cardinals.

    Senior big man Rhamel Brown was third in the nation with 3.7 blocks per game and just may be able to slow down, if not stop the dynamic Montrezl Harrell of Louisville. Senior guard Russ Smith is coming off a dominant 42-point performance against Houston in the American Athletic Conference tournament as well but will also have his hands full with Manhattan senior guard Michael Alvarado. 

    Manhattan may be getting overlooked just enough by everyone, including Louisville. It hasn't proven itself against top competition, but it has an experienced senior class not willing to go down easy. Look for them to put up a fight against the defending champs and maybe shock the world.

No. 13 Delaware over No. 4 Michigan State

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    The No. 13 seed Delaware Blue Hens played a nice little nonconference schedule this year prior to stampeding through the Colonial Athletic Association. They endured battles with Villanova, Richmond, Notre Dame, North Dakota State and Ohio State—all on the road.

    They were unsuccessful in all five, but they more than held their own in all of them except the North Dakota State matchup. Win or lose, five tough, out-of-conference road games will do wonders for a team's confidence. Delaware has no doubt it can hang with the big boys.

    Delaware has the highest scoring trio of players in the nation. Devon Saddler, Davon Usher and Jarvis Threatt all are averaging over 18 points and will be tough to stop for any team.

    Michigan State is as healthy as it has been all year and is no stranger to the tourney, but the Spartans will need to be on their toes against the Blue Hens.

No. 14 Mercer over No. 3 Duke

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    I'm prepared for the backlash that comes along with this pick. You just have to be if you want to go so far out on a limb to the point where it is about to snap.

    If you pick Mercer, you will hear all the same flack that the 12 people in the entire world did who picked 15-seeded Lehigh to upset Duke in the round of 64 in 2012. But it happened!

    Every year there is an upset or two that no one saw coming, and frankly, I would like to be the one who gets that upset right.

    Mercer won the Atlantic Sun and faced Texas, Ole Miss and Oklahoma all on the road out of conference. It has an incredible amount of depth with only Langston Hall averaging double digits in points. It goes roughly 11 or 12 deep on any given night and five of its six highest scorers are seniors. It is not a team that beats itself.

    We saw Duke lose four times this year to unranked teams. Outside of Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, it has a collection of inconsistent, underperforming guys. When Parker and Hood go, so go the Blue Devils. You best believe Mercer will be throwing everyone it has at those two guys.

    Mercer also knows how to hit the glass, an area where Duke struggles due to its lack of size. This is about as bold as bold predictions get, but if there is going to be one shocking upset that nobody saw coming, it will be delivered by Mercer.