NCAA Tournament 2019: Upset Picks for Key Friday Games and Full Weekend Schedule

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2019

Ethan Happ and the Wisconsin Badgers are favored, but they could have a tough time with the Oregon Ducks.
Ethan Happ and the Wisconsin Badgers are favored, but they could have a tough time with the Oregon Ducks.Paul Vernon/Associated Press

The powerful rhythm of the NCAA picks up again on Day 2.

Friday's action features three No. 1 seeds as Virginia faces Gardner-Webb, Duke lines up against North Dakota State and North Carolina meets Iona.

All three are huge favorites (22 points or more), and it is doubtful any of those top seeds will lose or even get challenged in their first-round games.

College basketball fans may enjoy seeing top teams perform at their best when competing against other highly respected teams, but they also get excited by the idea of upsets.

Early-round victories by lower-seeded teams and point-spread underdogs are often the most exciting moments of the NCAA Tournament. 

Tenth-seeded Minnesota got past seventh-seeded Louisville 86-76 and No. 12 Murray State punished No. 5 Marquette 83-64 on Thursday. We offer our picks for Day 2 of the tournament, and take a look at two games that could turn out to be upsets.


Friday's NCAA schedule, odds and selections

(All point-spread information courtesy of VegasInsider.com)

No. 7 Cincinnati vs. No. 10 Iowa, 12:15 p.m. (CBS), Cincinnati -3.5; Iowa 72, Cincinnati 67

No. 8 Ole Miss vs. No. 9 Oklahoma, 12:40 p.m. (TruTV), Ole Miss -1; Ole Miss 78, Oklahoma 75

No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 14 Northern Kentucky, 1:30 p.m. (TNT), Texas Tech -13.5; Texas Tech 87, Northern Kentucky 65

No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 13 UC Irvine, 2 p.m. (TBS), Kansas State -4.5; Kansas State 73, UC Irvine 65

No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 15 Colgate, 2:45 p.m. ET (CBS), Tennessee -17.5; Tennessee 91, Colgate 67

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 Gardner-Webb, 3:10 p.m., (truTV), Virginia -22; Virginia 69, Gardner-Webb 49

No. 6 Buffalo vs. No. 11 Arizona State, 4 p.m. (TNT), Buffalo -4.5; Buffalo 77, Arizona State 70

No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Oregon, 4:30 p.m. (TBS), Wisconsin -2, Oregon 61, Wisconsin 57

No. 8 Utah State vs. No. 9 Washington, 6:50 p.m. (TNT), Utah State -3; Utah State 71, Washington 64

No. 1 Duke vs. No. 16 North Dakota State, 7:10 p.m. (CBS), Duke -27; Duke 86, ND State 51

No. 3 Houston vs. No. 14 Georgia State, 7:20 p.m. (TBS), Houston -12; Houston 88, Georgia State 69

No. 5 Mississippi State vs. No. 12 Liberty, 7:27 p.m. (TruTV), Mississippi State -6.5; Mississippi State 70, Liberty 59

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 16 Iona, 9:20 p.m. (TNT), North Carolina -23; North Carolina 90, Iona 66

No. 8 VCU vs. No. 9 UCF, 9:40 p.m. (CBS), UCF -1; VCU 70, UCF 66

No. 6 Iowa State vs. No. 11 Ohio State, 9:50 p.m. (TBS), Iowa State -5.5; Ohio State 88, Iowa State 75

No. 4 Virginia Tech vs. No. 13 Saint Louis, 9:57 p.m. (TruTV), Virginia Tech -10.5; Virginia Tech 82, Saint Louis 70

Here's a look at Saturday's schedule, and a link to Sunday's schedule. Those second-round games will not be determined until Friday's games play out.

Nicole Auerbach @NicoleAuerbach

Saturday tip times: https://t.co/gkWueo1jjy


No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Oregon

The Badgers come into this game as the favorite by seed and point spread, but this could be a difficult first-round assignment. 

Wisconsin lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament, and the Badgers did not dominate in the Big Ten during the regular season as they finished in fourth place.

The Ducks also were rather unimpressive for more than half the season, but this team went through a dramatic turnaround as the season reached its conclusion. Oregon won its last eight games and took the Pac-12 conference tournament. The championship came in dominant fashion with a 20-point blowout over Washington.

Head coach Dana Altman deserves credit for getting this team on track. The Ducks suffered a key blow when big man Bol Bol went out with an injury in December, and that meant the team had to figure out a new formula for competing and winning.

Oregon depends on a strong defensive effort to establish their game plan. The Ducks rank 17th in the KenPom adjusted defensive rankings. One of the keys to that defense is forward Kenny Wooten, who averages 2.0 blocked shots per game.

The offense is keyed by forward Louis King and guard Payton Pritchard. Those two are averaging 13.1 and 12.7 points per game, respectively.

Wisconsin is traditionally a team that likes to slow the pace down and play solid defense, and this year's team fits that bill. The Badgers are allowing 61.4 points per game, and they rank third in the KenPom adjusted defensive rankings

The offense is led by forward Ethan Happ, who scores 17.5 ppg and is connecting on 53.1 percent from the field. He is getting help from guard Brad Davison, who is scoring 10.9 ppg.

This will not be the most thrilling game for fans who want to see fast-paced offense. These are two tough-minded defensive teams, and it will be a game of attrition. However, Oregon is the hot team and there's a reason to believe this team will come through when the game is on the line.

Oregon comes up with the upset and advances to the second round.


No. 6 Iowa State vs. No. 11 Ohio State

The Cyclones are coming off a sensational run in the Big 12 tournament as they won their fourth title in the last six years by beating Baylor, Kansas State and Kansas and finished the regular season with a 9-9 record.

It seems quite likely that if the Cyclones had not won the Big 12 tournament, they would have received a lower seed.

Iowa State is talented, but they may be overseeded after finishing fifth in the Big 12 in the regular season. 

Ohio State did not have the same kind of run in the Big Ten tournament that the Cyclones had in the Big 12. However, the Buckeyes won an important game over Indiana that may have been the determining factor in earning a ticket to the Big Dance.

They came through when their season was on the line and followed that up with a respectable effort in their 77-70 semifinal loss to eventual champion Michigan State.

Ohio State played its best basketball in the non-conference portion of its schedule when the Buckeyes went 11-2. They struggled with an 8-12 record in the Big Ten, and now they get a chance to show what they can do against a non-conference opponent. 

Forward Kaleb Wesson is scoring 14.4 ppg and leads the Buckeyes in that category, and he is getting support from guard C.J. Jackson, who is contributing 12.2 ppg and connecting on 38.2 percent of his three-point shots.

Guard Marial Shayok is scoring 18.6 ppg to lead the Cyclones and connecting on 49.4 percent of his shots from the field. Forward Michael Jacobson is averaging 11.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Iowa State ranks 55th in the KenPom adjusted defensive rankings, while Ohio State is 27th. Iowa State has a big advantage on the offensive side.

However, the belief here is that Iowa State peaked during the Big 12 tournament and will not be able to reach that level again.

Ohio State plays a steady game and comes away with the upset.