NCAA Bracket 2011 Predictions: 10 Possible Second Round Upsets
The first round of the NCAA Tournament was a great one as usual.
Incredible upsets, Cinderella stories, powerhouse beat-downs, and quite a few buzzer beaters were just some of the magic that took place.
In the past two days, we saw No. 12 seed Richmond overtake Vanderbilt, No. 13 seed Morehead State beat Louisville, No. 11 seed Marquette dominate Xavier, and No. 11 seed Gonzaga take care of St. Johns.
The second round of the tournament is set to start in only a matter of hours, and if there's one thing we can count on, it's another batch of exciting upsets that are certain to bust our brackets.
Southeast Region: No. 8. Butler Vs. No. 1. Pittsburgh
It was only last year when Butler made their magical run to the championship finals, but lost to Duke in the final minutes.
Matt Howard proved that he still has some magic left in him with his amazing buzzer beater against Old Dominion in the first round. Pittsburgh has played decently all year, but they have some holes in their game.
If Howard can stay out of foul trouble and control the boards, Butler might have a chance to repeat some of its magic.
East Region: No. 8. George Mason Vs. No. 1. Ohio State
We all remember 2006, when George Mason put on a miraculous run to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed, beating some dynamite teams along the way.
Their first round game against Villanova was an exciting one, that came down to the final minutes when George Mason pulled ahead.
Ohio State is the heavy favorite in this year's tournament, but it doesn't mean they're unbeatable. The Buckeyes style of play does not match up well against that of George Mason's, and OSU may find themselves in a heap of trouble.
Southeast Region: No. 11. Gonzaga Vs. No. 3. BYU
In the first half of the season, BYU was considered one of the best teams in the country by many, led by amazing shooter Jimmer Fredette.
Once BYU lost their big man in Davies, the Cougars haven't been playing all that well. They won their first game against Wofford, but it wasn't a particularly convincing performance.
Gonzaga on the other hand took care of St. John's with ease, who some thought of as a dark horse in the tournament.
There's no telling how well BYU's role players will perform on any given night, and Fredette won't be able to beat Gonzaga all by himself. If he slumps at all, look for Steven Gray and the Bulldogs to put on some hurt.
West Region: No. 6. Cincinnati Vs. No. 3. UConn
Kemba Walker is playing like one of the best players in the country right now, and has the potential to literally lead UConn all the way to a championship.
With that said, UConn doesn't have too much else, and if Walker has a poor game, the Huskies could struggle.
Cincinnati took down Missouri with ease, which was pretty surprising even though they were the favorites.
These two Big East rivals should put on a show for the fans in the second round. The Bearcats certainly won't be favored this time, but that doesn't mean anything in the NCAA Tournament.
East Region: No. 11. Marquette Vs. No. 3. Syracuse
I'm not gonna say I called the Marquette upset over Xavier. Oh wait, yes I am!
As far as tournament upsets go, I'm taking an average Big East team over a good A-10 team any day. Marquette looked great against Xavier, and pretty much dominated the entire game.
Their second round opponent will be a lot tougher, but will be a familiar foe who Marquette has already faced this season. Both teams know each other's playing style, and Marquette should be able to come up with a good enough game plan to stop Rick Jackson and company from overpowering them.
Don't look past Marquette to ride their hot streak into the Sweet 16.
West Region: No. 8. Michigan Vs. No. 1. Duke
Did you see Michigan's performance against Tennessee?
If you didn't, here's a quick update. Michigan destroyed the Volunteers 75-45, and sent Bruce Pearl home unhappy.
Although Duke just got Kyrie Irving back from injury, which makes them even more explosive, you can't ignore Michigan's potential.
While I find it unlikely, Michigan may just be able to pull off this upset if Duke doesn't take them seriously.
Southwest Region: No. 9. Illinois Vs. No. 1. Kansas
Demetri McCamey put on a show against UNLV Friday night, and helped Illinois advance with a 73-62 score.
The game was not as close as the score suggested, with Illinois holding a 20-point lead for a long time throughout both halves.
Kansas took care of Boston easily, but they were a No. 16 seed, so that really means nothing. For those of you who don't have a great short-term memory, it was only last year when Kansas was upset by Northern Iowa in the second round in the same scenario.
The Jayhawks will be doing everything they can to avoid that occurring two years in a row, but if it happened once, it can certainly happen again.
Southwest Region: No. 11. VCU Vs. No. 3. Purdue
VCU is being vastly underrated by the entire country right now.
There's a reason that this team was selected to play in the NCAA Tournament, and it's not because they're going to get run over every time.
So far, they've taken care of USC, and crushed No. 6 seed Georgetown. Purdue will be their next opponent, and before you quickly pencil in the Boilermakers, think about every time you've overlooked the Rams.
They are playing like a true Cinderella team with everyone assuming they'll lose, which is just acting like a chip on their shoulder, and helping them perform at an elite level.
East Region: No. 7. Washington Vs. No. 2. North Carolina
Isiah Thomas and the Huskies are filled with experience and talent all throughout their roster.
North Carolina is probably a lot more talented, but has almost no tournament experience. UNC played well in its first game, but I'm not putting too much stake into a 2/15 match-up.
This is a game that a lot of experts highlighted before the tournament started, and posed the idea that Washington's style of play could help them if they faced the Tarheels.
Now Washington will get that chance to stop North Carolina in its tracks.
Southwest Region: No. 10. Florida State Vs. No. 2. Notre Dame
Notre Dame has been overrated for quite some time in the AP rankings.
They did not have an impressive performance against No. 15 seed Akron. The Fighting Irish only held a four point lead going into halftime of their first round game.
If they play that poorly and can't shake off the nerves, Florida State could take advantage to the point where Notre Dame can't comeback.
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