NCAA Bracket 2011 Predictions: Which Teams Will Shock Us in Round One
Well the brackets have been announced and the madness can begin. The best part of the second round (what used to be the first round) is trying to figure out the upsets. Is this the first year a 16 seed topples a one seed? How many 12 seeds will upset 5 seeds? What is the lowest seed that will advance this year?
This is what makes the NCAA Men's Basketball the most exciting postseason tournament in sports right now. Well, I am here to help decipher the second round and give you the top eight teams who have the best chance to upset their higher-seeded opponent.
No. 14 Bucknell over No. 3 Connecticut
I think UConn is the more talented team, however, they just played five games in five days including an overtime win over Syracuse. They now have only four days off before they take on a Bucknell team who has gone 19-1 over their past 20 games coming out of the Patriot League.
One similiar situation is back in 2006 when Syracuse made a similar run in the Big East Tournament, winning four games in four days to take the title. They went on to earn a five seed in the NCAA tournament but lost in the first round to Texas A&M. If UConn is not able to get motivated for this game or find the energy, Bucknell could steal a win here.
No. 10 Florida St. over No. 7 Texas A&M
Florida State is coming off a tough loss to Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament but has been playing pretty well leading up to that game. They beat Duke when they were a number one seed back in January as well as Baylor when they were ranked 15th and had a two-point loss to UNC two weeks ago.
Texas A&M entered their conference tournament winning two of their last four games with losses to Kansas and Baylor and then lost to Texas in their conference tournament.
Chris Singleton of Florida State will be the best player on the court and Texas A&M will not be able to keep up with the forward, who is averaging 13.8 points and 7.1 rebounds this season and that will be the reason Florida State advances.
No. 13 Belmont over No. 4 Wisconsin
The Belmont Bruins enter the tournament 30-4, with two of those loses coming to Tennessee this year. This Bruins team can score and have averaged 80.4 points per game, which is 11th best in the NCAA. Wisconsin will come in relying on their defense but may not have enough offense to keep up with Belmont.
The Badgers lost to Penn State in the Big Ten tournament 36-33, and yes they played a full two halves to decide this one. It will be interesting to see if Belmont is able to get their offense on track against Wisconsin and if Wisconsin can score enough to keep up with Belmont. I am picking Belmont in this one.
No. 13 Oakland over No. 4 Texas
The Oakland Golden Grizzles are another high scoring attack, averaging 85 points per game, which is second best in the NCAA. The Golden Grizzles have also played some top teams this year going 1-4 against ranked teams, though four of those games were on the road. Their one win came against Tennessee in Tennessee, but they lost to the likes of Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois and Purdue.
After that stretch the Golden Grizzles went 18-1, including their conference tournament. They will take on a Texas team that lost to Kansas in the Big 12 Championship game. The deciding factor for this game will be Oakland's center Keith Benson and if he is able to produce his game averages of 18 points and 10.8 rebounds. If he can do this Oakland should pull the upset off over Texas.
No. 12 Clemson over No. 5 West Virginia
Yes I am taking a risk with this pick because Clemson will first have to beat UAB in one of the play in games on Tuesday. But I believe the Tigers will win that game and then beat the Mountaineers of West Virginia. Clemson has played Duke once and UNC twice in the last month and lost by a combined 17 points. They pushed UNC to an overtime game in the ACC tournament.
West Virginia will be entering the tournament coming off a loss to Marquette in the Big East tournament and finished 11-7 in the Big East regular season. If Clemson is able to play at the same level as they did against UNC, they should be able to get the win and move on in the tournament.
No. 12 Utah State over No. 5 Kansas State
Utah State enters the tournament 30-3, an eight-game win streak and the WAC Champion. They will be taking on Jacob Pullen and the Kansas State Wildcats. The Aggies are led by forward Tai Wesley and his 14 points and eight rebounds per game.
Both teams' season averages are within one point for points scored per game but Utah State only allows 58.2 points per game, which is eight points less than Kansas State. It should be a great matchup but I think the Aggies' Tai Wesley and their defense will propel them to a win.
No. 10 Penn St. over No. 7 Temple
This will be an interesting matchup between Penn State and Temple. It will be decided by the guard matchup between Penn State's Talor Battle and Temple's Ramone Moore. Battle is averaging over 20 points per game and Moore is the leading scorer for Temple at 14.2.
Penn State played very well in the Big Ten Tournament, beating Indiana, Michigan State, and Wisconsin before losing to top-ranked Ohio State in the finals. I expect Talor Battle to take over this game and get Penn State into the next round.
No. 11 Missouri over No. 6 Cincinnati
Missouri and Cincinnati are both coming off of losses to ranked opponents in their respective conference tournaments. Cincinnati got blown out by Notre Dame and Missouri lost to Texas A&M. The Tigers are led by Marcus Denmon who is averaging 17.1 points per game.
The reason Missouri will be able to win this game is their offensive abilities. They are averaging 81.4 points per game and I don't believe Cincinnati will have enough firepower to keep up with the Tigers in this one.