March Madness 2014: 1st-Round Games That Could Be Bracket Busters

John OwningCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2014

Providence's Bryce Cotton (11) and Creighton's Austin Chatman (1) and Jahenns Manigat (12) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the final of the Big East Conference tournament Saturday, March 15, 2014, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Providence won 65-58. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

March Madness is upon us and it is time for everyone to fill out their brackets. The biggest hurdle in filing out a bracket is avoiding bracket busters.  

March Madness begins Tuesday when Xavier faces North Carolina State for a berth as a No. 12 seed and Albany and Mount St. Mary's are pitted against each other for a No. 16 seed. 

Every year there are a few games that seem to surprise people and end up ruining their brackets. Upsets and bracket busters are the essence of what March Madness is.

Just because a lower seed bests a higher seed doesn't mean that game is a bracket buster. A true bracket buster is when a team that no one saw coming ends up beating a team perceived as better. A bracket buster is a team like No 15. seed Florida Gulf Coast beating No. 2 seed Georgetown in 2013.  

Here are three games that have the potential to be those bracket busters. 


No 14. Mercer Bears vs. No. 3 Duke Blue Devils

Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

The No. 3 Duke Blue Devils should be on upset alert when they face off against No. 14 Mercer Bears on Friday in North Carolina.'s Matt Rudnitsky reported that Duke is a 13.5 point favorite over Mercer. 

The Bears bring a highly potent and efficient offense to the court.  According to, the Bears average 79.5 points per game, while shooting 47.5% from the field and averaging 38 rebounds per game. Mercer has the type of offense and rebounding that can give Duke trouble. 

If the Bears find early success, they have a chance to give Duke serious problems. If senior guard Langston Hall has a big game like he is capable of, Duke may be on the outside looking in for the next round. 

No.11 Providence Friars vs. No. 5 North Carolina Tar Heels 

Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The No. 11 Friars look to upset No. 5 seeded Tar Heels on Friday in San Antonio. North Carolina would seem to be a popular pick just based off their name alone. Roy Williams is one of the top coaches in college basketball and would figure to have his team adequately prepared entering the tournament. 

However, the Friars, led by senior star Bryce Cotton, have a great chance to knock off the Tar Heels. Cotton and the Friars seem to have the momentum—coming off a Cinderella-like run through the Big East tournament that ended with them upsetting Creighton in the Big East Championship game—while the Tar Heels are coming off of consecutive losses to Duke and Pittsburgh. 

The Friars will look to Cotton to spark their offense and continue the momentum they gained in the Big East tournament. 

Sports On Earth's Matt Brown believes the game is going to be decided by Cotton and North Carolina's sophomore guard Marcus Paige. It may also come down to who's supporting cast will better support their star. 

With momentum on their side, look for the Friars to surprise the Tar Heels and get the upset. 


No. 10 Arizona State Sun Devils vs. No. 7 Texas Longhorns

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

On Thursday, the No. 10 Sun Devils look to beat the No. 7 Longhorns. The Sun Devils have not looked good since their upset of No. 1 seed Arizona Wildcats back on February 14th. Since then, they have had only two wins to go with seven losses. 

The Longhorns didn't end the season much better, having only three wins in their last eight games. 

According to's Doug Haller, Arizona State is using the tournament as a rebirth and hopes to recreate the magic they had in upsetting the Wildcats. 

Arizona State has a good combination of guards between sophomore Jahii Carson and senior Jermaine Marshall. Carson averaged 18.7 points per game while Marshall averaged 15.5 points per game

Arizona State has enough skill at the guard position, along with the size of senior center Jordan Bachynski, to give Texas some serious matchup problems. 

According to Bleacher Report's Jason King, the Longhorns are trending down right now and that gives Arizona State the edge. 

If Carson and Marshall have good shooting days and Bachynski rebounds and plays defense the way he is capable of then look for the Sun Devils to upset the Longhorns.