NCAA Tournament 2016: Upset Picks for Round of 32 and Updated Sweet 16 Schedule

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2016

Northern Iowa's Paul Jesperson hopes to secure a second-round victory against Texas A&M.
Northern Iowa's Paul Jesperson hopes to secure a second-round victory against Texas A&M.Associated Press

When the NCAA tournament gets underway, it's a given that there are going to be a number of first-round upsets.

As the tournament progresses, upsets continue, but they are often harder to predict. Lower-seeded teams that managed to survive their first-round games move on to play higher seeds that are also coming off victories, and while the effort will remain, the talent level may just be too great to overcome.

2016 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Matchups
SouthKansas vs. Maryland-Hawaii winnerMarch 24
SouthMiami (Fla.) vs. Iowa-Villanova winnerMarch 24
EastNorth Carolina vs. IndianaMarch 25
EastNotre Dame-Stephen F. Austin winner vs. Wisconsin-Xavier winnerMarch 25
WestDuke vs. St. Joseph's-Oregon winnerMarch 24
WestNorthern Iowa-Texas A&M winner vs. VCU-Oklahoma winnerMarch 24
MidwestVirginia vs. Iowa StateMarch 25
MidwestGonzaga vs. Syracuse-Middle Tennessee winnerMarch 25

Yale found that out Saturday in its loss to Duke, as did Arkansas-Little Rock against explosive Iowa State. On the other hand, 11th-seeded Gonzaga routed third-seeded Utah in the second round and will move on to the Sweet 16. 

Northern Iowa should have an excellent chance for an upset when it takes the floor against Texas A&M in the second round of the West Region Sunday night at 7:40 p.m. ET. The 11th-seeded Panthers are still feeling the high of their buzzer-beating 75-72 victory over Texas in the first round.

Check out Bleacher Report's live updating bracket to track your picks along the road to the Final Four.

After the Longhorns tied the game at 72-72 on a two-pointer by Isaiah Taylor, the Panthers got the ball inbounds to Paul Jesperson near the right sidelines. Jesperson moved toward the middle and launched a long shot that banked in for the winner as he approached center court.

While that miracle shot gave Northern Iowa the victory, the Panthers played well throughout the game and dictated much of the pace. Wes Washpun led the way for Northern Iowa with 17 points, while Jeremy Morgan had 16, and Jesperson had 14. 

The Panthers will need that same kind of well-balanced attack if they are going to get the best of the Aggies. Texas A&M is a 6.5-point favorite, according to Odds Shark.

The third-seeded Aggies hammered Wisconsin-Green Bay 92-65, as five A&M players scored in double figures. After building an eight-point lead at halftime, the Aggies pulled away in the second half and completed their rout.

Danuel House led the way with 20 points, while Tonny Trocha-Morelos had a big game with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists.

The Panthers should be a confident bunch after taking down the Longhorns, while the Aggies may believe they are simply playing too well to lose to a Missouri Valley Conference opponent. Look for Northern Iowa to dictate the pace of this game and come away with a narrow upset.

Look for seventh-seeded Wisconsin to secure an upset at the hands of second-seeded Xavier when the two meet in the round of 32 Sunday night at 8:40 p.m. ET.

Nigel Hayes can be a force under the board for Wisconsin.
Nigel Hayes can be a force under the board for Wisconsin.Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

The Badgers have been largely overlooked this year after making a run all the way to the championship game against Duke last year, but they are battle-tested and feeling good about themselves after slugging out a 47-43 victory over Pittsburgh in the first round.

The Badgers turned up the defensive pressure and limited the Panthers to 37.5 percent shooting, as they connected on just 18 of 48 shots from the field.

While Wisconsin had a poor shooting night, what often gives the Badgers the advantage is that they not only play constricting defense but do it with limited fouling. The Panthers went to the free-throw line just seven times and made just four of them.

Ethan Happ led the way for Wisconsin with 15 points, and Nigel Hayes added 12 points and five rebounds. Hayes had a brutal 3-of-17 shooting day, and he is going to have to perform more efficiently if the Badgers are going to get the best of the Musketeers.

Xavier trounced first-round opponent Weber State 71-53; James Farr came off the bench to score 18 points and corral 15 rebounds. 

Starters Jalen Reynolds and Remy Abell followed with 12 and 11 points, respectively, and while neither is a star, both are consistent contributors.

The Musketeers are 4.5-point favorites, but Wisconsin will be undaunted. Look for the Badgers to let their defense lead the way as they secure an upset and move on to the Sweet 16.