NCAA Bracket 2011 Predictions: Top 5 Most Unlikely Upsets That Could Happen
The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament can basically say they coined the word 'upset'. As tournament time approaches, low-seeded teams and fans will be tossing the word around more often than not.
With the official brackets out, people can start breaking down each region and picking their pony. In addition, they will also pick a huge upset, in hopes that it will provide something to brag about.
The relatively unknown conference's automatic bids usually sit between No. 13 and 16 in the tournament. For any of these teams to move on, they have to beat a team with nine or fewer losses on the season.
Of the 16 teams that earned a No. 1-4 seed, all but one are in the top 15 in the country. The only exception is the Connecticut Huskies, who just won the Big East Tournament as a No. 9 seed. The Huskies won five games in five days—three of which were against tournament teams. They were No. 21 previous to their run.
The word upset is usually associated with the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
They got on the map by continuously pulling big upsets during March Madness. Led by Mark Few, the Bulldogs knocked down top teams year after year earlier this century. The Bulldogs showed that teams from lesser-known conferences could play with the big dogs.
This year's field is full of conference tournament champions ready for the chance to make national news.
Let's look at some first-round games that people likely didn't think twice about, but have the potential for upsets.
No. 14 Wofford over No. 3 Brigham Young
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This game might have actually caught some people's attention when they were looking for the next big upset.
Jimmer Fredette and the Brigham Young Cougars have only lost four games this season. However, two of the losses came in their last five games—all after the loss of sophomore center Brandon Davies. Davies was suspended for the remainder of the season for violating the Mormon school's honor code.
Davies was averaging 11.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game before his removal from the team. The Cougars won both matchups with the San Diego State Aztecs in the regular season.
With Davies not around for the Mountain West Conference Tournament, the Aztecs took home the title in an 18-point victory over the Cougars.
The Wofford Terriers are eighth in the nation in shooting percentage. Led by forward Noah Dahlman, the Terriers won their last eight games to finish 21-12. Dahlman has scored in double digits every game this season—even scoring 30 points on three occasions.
As a No. 13 seed in its first ever NCAA Tournament last season, Wofford only lost by four points to Wisconsin.
If BYU doesn't cool down the Terriers early, Wofford may pull off the biggest upset in school history.
No. 13 Belmont over No. 4 Wisconsin
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Wisconsin struggled to win as a No. 4 seed last season, and they are sliding down the stretch this year.
The Badgers have already showed signs of struggle in March. They are 0-2 in the month, with losses to Ohio State and Penn State. The Buckeyes destroyed the Badgers at Ohio State after losing a close game in Wisconsin. The loss was one of only two for the Buckeyes this year.
Against Penn State, the Badgers only scored 33 points in a three-point loss. The combined 69 points was the lowest total in Big Ten Tournament history. Wisconsin—as usual—is known as a defensive team, but they won't beat anyone with 33 points.
The Belmont Bruins went 30-4 this year, with two close losses to the Tennessee Volunteers. Belmont lost games against the Volunteers by a combined 10 points. Tennessee is in the Big Dance as a No. 9 seed.
Simply put, Belmont can ball.
The Bruins are a prime example of how to share the ball—and minutes. As a team, the Bruins average over 80 points a night. Their highest scorer is sophomore Ian Clark, with 12.4 points per game.
Eleven players on the team see more than 10 minutes in each game, which is relatively unheard of in college basketball. The Belmont coaching staff tries to keep their players fresh and ready to go.
Wisconsin is going to have many players to plan for in their first-round game. Are they up to the challenge?
No. 14 Bucknell over No. 3 Connecticut
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Kemba Walker was nothing short of spectacular in Connecticut's run to the Big East Championship.
He scored 130 points in five games, destroying the previous tournament record. He broke Pittsburgh's Gary McGhee's ankles with a crossover before hitting a game-winning shot in the quarterfinals. Two more shining performances, and the Huskies were Big East champs.
The run could be compared to the Syracuse Orange's Big East title run in 2006. The Orange won five straight games as the tournament's No. 9 team. The Orange drew a No. 5 seed in the Big Dance because of their performance, but lost to Texas A&M in the first round.
With four days off after the championship game and the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, teams can lose their momentum. The Huskies have been good all season, but it's been a coin flip in close conference games.
Bucknell is also on a win streak of its own. The Bison have won 10 consecutive games to finish 25-8. The Bison started off the season with games against two Big East teams, Villanova and Marquette. Although they lost both games, they proved they could play the big basketball schools.
The Bison had an eight-point halftime lead against the Golden Eagles. They were also up by 12 with just over 10 minutes remaining.
If the Bison play a full game against the Huskies, Kemba might have to provide some more late-game heroics.
No. 14 Indiana State over No. 3 Syracuse
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The Syracuse Orange are no stranger to losing in the NCAA Tournament as a heavy favorite.
In 2005, the No. 4 seed Orange lost to the No. 13 seed Vermont Catamounts. The loss was stunning to the Orange, who had just wrapped up the Big East Tournament title. The Orange also lost in the Elite Eight last season to the underdog Butler Bulldogs.
This season, the Orange started 18-0 before losing four straight. They would soon recover, but without the same scare factor they had on teams during the winning streak.
The Orange are led in scoring by Kris Joseph, Rick Jackson and Scoop Jardine. They can light up the scoreboard against any defense, but sometimes have the tendency to rush and take bad shots. The 2-3 zone they boast on defense forces other teams to take lots of threes.
The Indiana State Sycamores have two players that can stroke it from downtown. Jordan Printy and Steve McWhorter might see increased minutes against the Orange because of the need for a shooter.
The Sycamores display a balanced attack on offense, with their leading scorer only averaging 11 points per contest. Against a zone, it's good to know that you have multiple people on the court that can score and have been trusted to do so beforehand.
If Indiana State catches fire from beyond the arc, the Orange will have to be at their best when they have the ball.
No. 15 Northern Colorado over No. 2 San Diego State
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Only BYU has been able to beat the San Diego State Aztecs this season.
The Aztecs finished 32-2 this year, showing the nation how scary they can be. They avenged the losses to BYU in the Mountain West Conference Tournament final with a convincing win.
The biggest non-conference win for the Aztecs was a three-point defeat of then No. 12 Gonzaga. San Diego State started the season 20-0 before a loss to BYU. Only the Cougars have been able to put up 80 points on the Aztecs, and Fredette had 43 of those.
The Aztecs rarely have trouble scoring and are no stranger to opening up big leads in games.
The Northern Colorado Bears average the exact same amount of points per game as the Aztecs at 72.2. Contrary to the Aztecs, the Bears see most of their scoring come from one source.
Senior guard Devon Beitzel is averaging 21.8 points per game, more than twice as much as any other member of Northern Colorado. He scored 84 points in the last three games of the season.
The Bears shot 635 three-pointers this year, and connected on 38.7 percent of those attempts. Their offense hinges on how well they shoot the long ball.
If they shoot the lights out against the Aztecs, they can win. If they don't, they'll be just another No. 15 seed.