March Madness Picks 2014: Upset Predictions for Round 2

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March Madness Picks 2014: Upset Predictions for Round 2
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

The NCAA tournament has finally begun, but the real action starts on Thursday, as the round of 64 will start with 32 teams playing throughout the day.

This year's tournament will feature plenty of big names, including a number of exciting young freshmen, but there doesn't appear to be a go-to favorite team to win it all. 

With a wide-open field, there are plenty of teams that are on upset alert, so let's take a look at a few teams that should go down in the second round.

 

All Your Bracket Essentials

You can view the official NCAA bracket here

 

No. 13 New Mexico State vs. No. 4 San Diego State

For the past six years, at least one No. 13 seed has taken down a No. 4 seed, which means that the odds of it happening again are quite high. Considering two of the No. 4 seeds are Michigan State and Louisville, who are potential Final Four contenders, the San Diego State Aztecs could be the team on upset alert.

The Aztecs have been a terrific defensive squad, holding opponents to just 56.6 points per game and 38.4 percent shooting, ranking second and eighth in the nation, respectively. They also do a great job defending the perimeter, with opponents shooting just 28.7 percent from behind the arc.

While their defense is strong, their offense has struggled recently, but the New Mexico State Aggies are an efficient offensive team with plenty of size down low. They're scoring 77.2 points per game, shooting 49.1 percent from the floor. Down low, they're almost impossible to get by, with three players on the roster at least 6'10'', including 7'5'' Sim Bhullar, who is putting up 10.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

According to Jeff Eisenberg from Yahoo! Sports, Aggies coach Marvin Menzies had some good things to say about his starting center.

"He's a very cerebral player, he's an excellent passer and he has very good hands," Menzies said. "He's still a freshman and he's still learning and he's going to make mistakes like most players, but his maturity for his age is very advanced."

With so much size down low, the Aztecs could struggle to get going offensively, and the Aggies could have a chance to win a low-scoring contest and advance to the round of 32.

 

No. 11 Providence vs. No. 6 North Carolina 

The last time a No. 11 team didn't beat a No. 6 team in the tournament was 2004, and the last time before that was 1999. While the North Carolina Tar Heels are arguably the most talented No. 6 seed in this year's tourney, the Providence Friars could take them down.

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After losing four of five games, back in January, the Tar Heels went off for 12 straight wins, but they head into the tournament with two straight losses to Duke and Pittsburgh. They have some terrific wins this year, but they also have some questionable losses, including ones to teams like UAB and Wake Forest.

Plain and simple, this team is inconsistent.

The Friars aren't a great team from the floor, shooting just 42.5 percent from the field and 35 percent from downtown. But they're also one of the best teams in the nation at shooting their free throws, making 78.1 percent of their shots from the charity stripe while attempting 23.8 per game.

This could be a big problem for the Tar Heels, who tend to let their opponents get to the line often. This year, their opponents have shot an average of around 23.6 free throws per game, which is one of the worst in the NCAA.

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Right now, Providence is hot. It's won six of its last seven games, including a 65-58 win over Creighton to win the Big East title. The team's adjusted offense ranks 28th in the NCAA, according to the Pomeroy rankings, and the current hot streak should give the Friars a lot of momentum heading into the Big Dance.

Of course, a lot will depend on whether or not Bryce Cotton can put up points. He leads the Friars in scoring with 21.4 points along with 5.8 assists per game, and he will need to continue putting up numbers like these to keep Providence alive.

If the Tar Heels come out flat, they could be in big trouble, as the Friars have proved that they can hang with some great teams.

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