The 2014 NCAA tournament bracket is finally set, and there isn't exactly a go-to favorite championship contender, but there are plenty of potential upset picks.
There are normally one or two teams each season that look like clear contenders for a national championship, and they usually make it pretty far. But this year is different, as the college basketball season has featured plenty of upsets and wild runs by teams not expected to do much this season.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the latest odds for some of the top title contenders, followed by a few potential upset picks in the second round.
You can view the official NCAA bracket here.
|Odds for Top Tournament Teams|
|San Diego State||75/1|
No. 12 Harvard over No. 5 Cincinnati
The Harvard Crimson were able to get their first NCAA tournament win in school history last year, taking down the New Mexico Lobos, 68-62. This year, the Crimson will be looking to pull off another upset, only this time they will be taking on the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Sure, they're an Ivy League school, but the Crimson are no joke once again this year. They've gone 26-4 and are currently on an eight-game win streak. Defensively, they're one of the stronger teams in the nation, holding opponents to just 60.5 points per game while shooting just 40.7 percent from the field.
The Crimson were a surprise team last year, but they're now on the radar in 2014. According to Julian Benbow from The Boston Globe, junior guard-forward Wesley Saunders had this to say about possibly surprising the Bearcats:
I think definitely as a result of what happened last year in the tournament, I don’t think we’re going to be surprising anybody anymore. I think we’ve got to go out and expect everybody’s best shot and expect to give our best shot. We’re going out there expecting a game, and I don’t think anyone’s looking past us this year.
The key for the Crimson in their second-round matchup will be to contain Sean Kilpatrick, the star senior for the Bearcats. He's averaging 20.7 points per game this year, scoring in double figures in all but one game. Kilpatrick has still put up solid point totals when Cincinnati has lost, but in those losses, he's shot just 31.4 percent from the floor.
No. 11 Nebraska over No. 6 Baylor
The Big Ten is arguably the best conference in college basketball, as they were able to get six teams into the NCAA tournament. One of those was the definition of a team on the bubble in the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but that shouldn't keep them from winning at least one game in the Big Dance.
The Cornhuskers were expected to be one of the worst teams in the Big Ten this season, and it looked like that was going to be the case when they went on a five-game losing streak in December and January. But something clicked at the end of January, as they went on to finish the season with a solid 10-3 record, including big wins over Wisconsin and Michigan State, two potential Final Four teams.
Now, the Cornhuskers are going dancing for the first time since 1998.
Nebraska will play the Baylor Bears in the second round, and this should be a closer match than the seeding indicates. The Bears have a better record at 24-11, but they also went just 9-9 in the Big 12.
Baylor has the advantage down low with players like Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin, but the Bears may have trouble trying to contain Terran Petteway, who has exploded onto the scene for Nebraska after transferring from Texas Tech. This season, he's been Nebraska's leading scorer, averaging 18.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting 43 percent from the field.
If Petteway can stay hot like he has over the past two games, putting up 46 points and 15 rebounds against Ohio State and Wisconsin, the Cornhuskers should be able to walk away with a huge win.