One of the most exciting aspects of March Madness is watching to see what top seeds will be upset in dramatic fashion. Sometimes upsets are last minute buzzer beater affairs that feature game long heroics and last minute heartbreak. Other times the upset will have been in the making and the entire game was actually an inverse of what the seedings implied it would be where the lower seeded team is the one running away with things and the higher seed is fighting for their lives.
The 2013 NCAA tournament is full of potential upsets and while there is no guarantee that we will see more than one this year, the fact of the matter remain that March is full of madness and teams live and die by the upset this tie of year.
No. 12 Oregon over No. 5 Oklahoma St.
The Ducks were somehow given a lowly 12-seed in the Midwest region, so it’s a little unfair to call them a sleeper team to pull off an upset because frankly they should have been an eight or nine seed. But all this does is give us an opportunity for an upset in the Round of 64 and it’s shaping up to look like an early lock for madness. The Ducks purely out hustle their opponents and win on sheer grit, but they play in such a way to balance the fact that no player on their roster averages more than 12ppg. On the other hand, Oregon’s defensive hustle may be able to stifle the Cowboys as Oklahoma State is pretty awful from beyond the arch and they don’t pass the ball much either. Both of these things could get them in trouble right away in the game and end up being the end of the Cowboys season.
How Far Will They Go: Oregon has a real chance to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, but it all depends on how much of a novelty their style of play ends up being when stacked against real talent in the tournament.
No. 11 Belmont over No. 6 Arizona
Every year we gets games where an 11-seed has an alright chance of knocking off their 6-seed opponent. But this year Belmont has more than just an alright chance, they’re quickly becoming favored to win by some and that’s bad news for Arizona. Belmont is the prototypical upset team as they lack defensive skill but make up for it by being one of the most accurate and deadly shooting teams in the tournament. The Bruins are shooting almost 50 percent from the field and almost 40 percent from beyond the arc which means the Arizona Wildcats defense will need to nip that deadly shooting in the butt as quickly as possible to avoid an early exit from the tournament. But the Wildcats only glaring defensive weakness is their 3-point perimeter defense, which means the Bruins may end up winning this one with the long ball.
How Far Will They Go: Belmont isn’t set up great for a run in their region because a win pits them against New Mexico, and the Lobos are gearing up for a deep run of their own in the West bracket.
No. 10 Iowa State over No. 7 Notre Dame
These types of seeding match ups almost always end in at least one upset in one of the four regions. The Notre Dame Irish are your classic example of a team that can make a deep run if they get hot right away. The Iowa State Cyclones are your classic example of a team that’s fun to watch who can also be a deadly threat to other teams hopes of advancing in the madness. The Irish love stroking the three-ball, but when they start missing from deep, the bottom falls out and they lose control of every aspect of their game. The Cyclones are a scoring machine with six player averaging over 9.0ppg this year, but they rarely win in big spots as they’re just 2-6 against top ranked opponents. But Iowa State has the ability to just outlast you thanks to their 76.9ppg team average, and both of these teams are classic examples of so-so regular season teams that could see their special strengths highlighted in all the madness.
How Far Will They Go: No further than a Round of 32 matchup with the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Cyclones don’t play well against big time opponents and they may only have one upset in them, if even that.
No. 11 Bucknell over No. 6 Butler
It’s rare that we see two 11-seeds advance in the same tournament, but Bucknell may very give us that if they too can topple their higher seeded foe. The Butler Bulldogs are returning to the tournament this year, but they’re going to get razed right out of the gate by a fierce Bison team that limits their turnovers and is aggressive on the defensive board. Butler boasts impressive wins over Gonzaga and North Carolina, but they’re not a big team and may simply get out-rebounded in tight spots against the Bison. Both teams rely on star power to get them wins, which is another reason this upset is very likely. All it takes is for Mike Muscala to heat up and Bucknell is not only looking at an upset over Butler, but they could make a Cinderella run into the Sweet Sixteen and even the Elite Eight.
How Far Will They Go: Bucknell is set up very nicely to make a run to the Sweet Sixteen. Should they upset Butler, they’ll head into a matchup with Marquette and it’s looking like that will be an equally winnable game as well. Marquette lives and dies with Vander Blue, and Bucknell is great at limiting scoring chances, which is good news for fans of a Cinderella team.
No. 12 California over No. 5 UNLV
The story surrounding this game is the fact the NCAA selection committee may have made a little snafu in their seedings. While they admitted that they had to schedule this game so this wasn’t a rampant problem throughout the tournament, the fact of the matter remains that California and UNLV played each other this season in a regular season game and the site of this matchup in the tournament is essentially a home game for Cal as it’s being hosted in San Jose. Still, UNLV won their game earlier this year against Cal, meaning the Golden Bears know what to look for and how to stop it. UNLV has consistency issues and Cal may be able to exploit that late in games by not making mistakes of their own and capitalizing on missed chances by UNLV. It’s not a lock, but this game feels more like an 8-versus-9 matchup rather than what it really is in terms of seeding.
How Far Will They Go: No further than the Round of 32. A win gives the Golden Bears a showdown with No. 4 Syracuse, and even if the Orange struggle, they still outmatch Cal in almost every way imaginable.
No. 11 Minnesota over No. 6 UCLA
UCLA started out the season hot, but they’ve fallen off as of late and that may result in a premature exit from the NCAA tournament in the Round of 64.The Golden Gophers aren’t an outstanding team by any means, but they have upset potential written all over them due to the matchups they have against the Bruins and the hunger within them to prove that they belong. For every bad loss the Gophers had this year, there is an impressive upset win to balance the scales and that kind of experience in weird games is what may boost Minnesota over Shabazz Muhammad and company in the Round of 64. Trevor Mbakwe is being featured on a national stage and this will be his opportunity to prove to the world and to NBA scouts that he’s a real talent that has a future in basketball, and the Bruins may just be too burnt out to get into a duel with the Gophers.
How Far Will They Go: Minnesota may be able to ride the upset wave to the Sweet Sixteen, as a Round of 32 matchup with the Florida Gators isn’t an impossible task. But it’s a tall order and may be one the Gophers just can’t handle.
No. 9 Villanova over No.8 North Carolina
It’s tough to call a 9-seed beating an 8-seed an upset but anytime North Carolina is involved, people need to get the message. Everyone already as their eye on a Roy Williams bowl that would feature the Tar Heels taking on Williams’ old team the No. 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks in the Round of 32. But before that can happen, the Tar Heels need to get through a rough Villanova team that has cinderella written all over them. When Ryan Arcidiacono and Mouphtaou Yarou start to get hot, the Wildcats are one of the best teams in the tournament and have even the potential to give No. 1 Kansas a serious run for their money in the Round of 32. North Carolina has the pedigree and the uptempo style of offense to stay in the game and win it, but North Carolina isn’t the strongest of all-around teams in the tournament and could end up falling behind if accuracy becomes an issue in their high flying, high scoring offense. But Arcidiacono and Yarou are two of the best players in the tournament and if they’re both on for the Wildcats, Villanova could steal the South region with a deep run through it’s bracket.
How Far Will They Go: As we said, the Wildcats have a chance to make an Elite Eight run if their star players heat up at the right time and stay hot. Kansas isn’t the scariest of No. 1 seeds and Villanova plays a style of basketball that Kansas isn’t going to look forward to playing. However, everything, including a Round of 64 upset win, revolves around two layer heating up.
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