Ah, the art of picking upsets in March Madness is a beautiful thing. Nothing feels better than being able to gloat about correctly picking a 12 seed to upend a 5 seed. So, which teams this year pose as a good threat in pulling off an upset?
Last year Middle Tennessee wrecked everyone’s brackets after beating 2 seed Michigan State as a 15-seed. Nobody saw it coming. This year however, they won’t be catching anybody by surprise after being placed as a 12th seed to face off against Minnesota. Middle Tennessee upsetting Minnesota from a 12-seed position has been one of the more popular picks among experts and analysts. These Blue Raiders (30-4) are coming off one of their best regular seasons ever led by a 3-pointed attack in JaCorey Williams, Giddy Potts, and Reggie Upshaw. All three players combine for an average of 47 points per game and a field goal percentage over 51%. Middle Tennessee is poised a team ready to upset a shaky 5 seed in Minnesota.
Now we move over to the East Region where the Virginia Cavaliers take on the UNC Wilmington Seahawks. This is another prime 12-5 matchup to look out for. UNC Wilmington has one of the most potent offenses in the country and average over 85 points per game and 16 assists per game. Now the Seahawks don’t play much defense allowing 75 points per game which ranks 241st in the country. Virginia’s latest offensive woes and lack of rebounding could put them in big trouble with UNC Wilmington. Senior leader London Perrantes and streaky freshman Kyle Guy will have to carry the Cavaliers on their backs in terms of scoring if they want to make it out of the first round. Virginia will only go as far as their stingy defense will take them, which may be a first-round upset if they can’t fix their shooting slump.
Rhode Island has the most favorable matchup out of all the 11 seeds in the tournament. They are facing a Creighton team who is wildly inconsistent in shooting and has lost their third leading scorer in Maurice Watson Jr. He tore his ACL on Jan.16, but then was later suspended for being formally charged with first degree sexual assault on Feb 4. Rhode Island can slow down the pace of a game and force Creighton into bad and unnecessary shots. When the Bluejays lose it’s because of poor shooting performances from the field and the 3-point line. Well, unfortunately for them, Rhode Island has the 32nd best defense in the country in only allowing 64.9 points per game.