Anyone who has ever watched the NCAA tournament knows there will be plenty of upsets coming in the round of 64. The key is to predict the craziness before it happens.
When filling out your bracket, you do not want to have too many upsets, but you also should not pick just favorites. Successfully calling an upset is what ends up separating the best brackets from the rest in pools.
You should not go crazy by picking a No. 16 to beat a No. 1, but there are still plenty of decent upset picks that are likely to come true. Here are a few second-round picks to look for when filling out your bracket.
No. 11 Dayton over No. 6 Ohio State
After starting the season 15-0, Ohio State has not looked as strong lately, especially on the offensive end of the court. The Buckeyes ended the year with a 10-9 record and only topped 70 points in four of those games.
Point guard Aaron Craft might be a menace on the defensive end, but he does not make people better on offense. While LaQuinton Ross has played extremely well as of late, he is not getting much help from his fellow perimeter players, like Lenzelle Smith Jr.
The defense alone will not be enough to carry the Buckeyes deep into the tournament.
Meanwhile, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports likes this matchup for Dayton:
Ohio State has absolutely NOTHING to gain by playing Dayton in the NCAA Tournament. Great game for the Flyers. Awful one for the Buckeyes.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 17, 2014
The Flyers were one of the final at-large teams in the tournament, but they are peaking at the right time with 10 wins in the last 12, only losing to Saint Joseph's in that stretch.
In this battle, the question will be whether Dayton can get off three-point shots like usual. Ohio State ranks seventh in the nation in perimeter defense, holding opponents to just 29.4 percent from three-point range.
However, Michigan proved this is not a problem when you have multiple shooters, nailing 12-of-23 from behind the arc in the Big Ten tournament. Dayton can win with a similar approach thanks to the shooting ability of Jordan Sibert, Devin Oliver, Dyshawn Pierre and Khari Price.
As long as the Flyers do a good job of moving the basketball to find the open player, they will be able to score enough to win this game.
No. 11 Tennessee/Iowa over No. 6 UMass
Most pools allow you to choose either play-in team to advance to the next round. In reality, either Tennessee or Iowa has a chance to pull off the upset in this matchup.
We have seen a few teams make a run from the First Four (Round 1) in the three-year history of the play-in games. VCU started things off with an incredible Final Four appearance in 2011. South Florida and La Salle have also had success in recent years.
Tennessee might have the best chance to replicate this success thanks to its recent results, as noted by analyst Patrick Stevens:
Tennessee got in ... because it played a good schedule, and probably because it beat the snot out of people down the stretch.— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) March 16, 2014
The Volunteers enter the tournament with five wins in the past six games, including three victories by at least 27 points and a narrow loss to top-seeded Florida. They also defeated Virginia by 35 points earlier in the season.
The duo of Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes have the opportunity to cause some serious damage in March.
On the other hand, Iowa had a much weaker end to the season. Still, Roy Devyn Marble leads the nation's fourth-most efficient offense in the country, according to KenPom.com. These efficiency ratings list the Hawkeyes as the No. 27 team in the nation with Tennessee at No. 13.
Massachusetts comes in at No. 52 thanks to an average defense and a poor offense. This does not seem like a team that should be a No. 6 seed.
The Minutemen had some good wins earlier in the year, but they could end up being over-matched in the round of 64. Dan Wolken of USA Today does not even think they will be favored:
UMass as a 6 will almost certainly be an underdog in Vegas to either Iowa or Tennessee.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 16, 2014
Look for either Tennessee or Iowa to start what could be a decent run in this tournament with a win.
No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 5 VCU
This is going to be an ugly game to watch. This is not because these teams lack talent, but instead because both of them utilize an aggressive defense that is going to force a lot of mistakes.
According to TeamRankings.com, both of these teams rank in the top 10 in the country in turnovers forced per game. This means that the eventual winner will have to be the squad that is more composed.
Which No. 12 seed is most likely to win a game?
While VCU has had plenty of past success, it is hard to go against a team that posted a 31-2 record this season. Stephen F. Austin has not lost a game since Nov. 23, and this constant winning will have the team confident in the closing minutes.
Some will question the Lumberjacks' schedule, but head coach Brad Underwood explained to Schuyler Dixon of the Associated Press (via the Journal Star), "Thirty’s a hard number. I don’t care who you’ve played. Go beat the worst team in the country 30 times. You’re probably going to slip up."
Instead of making any mistakes, the squad has been as consistent as they come with a full roster of players who are willing to share the ball. Four players average more than 12 points per game and the team ranks eighth in the country in assists. This will give them a chance to break the tough VCU press.
To make matters worse for the favorite, third-leading scorer and top outside shooter Melvin Johnson will miss the game with a sprained knee, according to Rothstein.
This will cause the Rams problems in the half court, which is where Stephen F. Austin excels defensively. Eric Prisbell of USA Today thinks the defense will lead to an upset:
Glad Seth Davis stole my pick: Stephen F. Austin. Great half-court defense against VCU's great full-court defense. SFA advances.— Eric Prisbell (@EricPrisbell) March 16, 2014
Juvonte Reddic represents a big size advantage for VCU, but the senior has been inconsistent lately and will be unable to help his team pull out a victory.
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