Brackets are all the rage this week, and it’s irresistible to try to nail the NCAA Tournament upsets and get a leg up on March Madness pools.
Easier said than done, of course. Sure, every year produces a handful of underdog darlings who bust more conservative brackets, but there’s no way to know how many teams will shake things up. It’s a crapshoot.
Still, for anyone looking for a little guidance on which upsets will occur in the first round on Thursday and Friday, here are teams amNewYork selected as the most likely at each double-digit seed to advance into the weekend.
A 10 seed topping a No. 7 barely qualifies as an upset, but it meets the criteria. With that said, the Gators acquitted themselves well against the likes of No 3 seed LSU (winning two of three) and losing close games to No 2 Michigan State and fifth-seeded Auburn. They’re better than most 10s.
11: Saint Mary’s
How many No 11 seeds in this tournament beat any of the No. 1 seeds last week? Just the Gaels (over Gonzaga), whose top three scorers are shooting 40 percent-or-better from 3-point range. They drew No. 6 Villanova, the defending national champions who were hit hard by NBA dreams.
12: Murray State
Racers’ point guard almost surely will be a top-five NBA draft pick in June. He’ll square off with Marquette’s Markus Howard, who along with Ja Morant make up the top two individual scorers in the field. Expect a thrilling game either way, but Murray State could be dancing all the way to the Sweet Sixteen.
13: UC Irvine
How do you pick against a team called the Anteaters? OK, so the school mascot isn’t running pick-and-roll, but the Big West champs held their own against non-conference opponents. Opponent Kansas State may not have key big man Dean Wade, and that can only help UCI.
Don’t sleep on the Ivys. The league’s NCAA rep has advanced to the Round of 32 in four of the last nine years. Coach James Jones guided the Bulldogs to their upset, as a No 12 seed, of Baylor three years ago, and this team could catch fire from outside against No 3 LSU, a team dealing with off-court turmoil.
A 15 seed wins about once every five years, on average. Only one such upset has occurred in the last five years, and it’s hard to count on another one this year. That said, Bradley could shock Michigan State, if it can slow down the pace. Plus, the Spartans were the last No. 2 seed to lose to a 15, in 2016.
The only No 1 seed to ever lose to a 16th seed was Virginia, last year. Maybe this isn’t a creative pick, but the Big South champion Bulldogs at least know these Cavaliers aren’t unbeatable. Don’t put the mortgage on another stunner, though.