Time to call in sick to work, because the NCAA Tournament has finally arrived. With the NCAA Tournament comes the bracket busting upsets. This year we have a whole new crop of upset-hungry teams. The higher seeded teams better be cautious in order to avoid becoming yet another statistic.
East- (3) Texas Tech vs. (14) Stephen F. Austin
Lots of reasons to be proud of Coach Beard but this might be the best. https://t.co/VeVWx70gp7
— Taylor Karrh (@TaylorKarrh) March 15, 2018
The Southland Conference Champions are back for another appearance in the NCAA Tournament, their fourth trip in five years. In their previous appearance as a 14-seed they upset West Virginia then nearly beat Notre Dame in the Round of 32 falling by only one point. The Lumberjacks average 81.1 points per game, a balanced attack 6 players average between 8 and 16 points per game. They also happen to lead the country in steals with over 10.5 steals per game. Texas Tech has struggled a little bit lately, mostly due to injury. Keenan Evans is the leading scorer for the Red Raiders averaging 17.5 points per game, but he’s been dealing with a toe injury. Should the aggressive, hard-nosed SFA defense get to Evans this could be the start of the bracket busting upsets.
South- (6) Miami vs. (11) Loyola-Chicago
The Ramblers are a tremendous team as they won both the regular season and conference tournament in the Missouri Valley Conference. They own a road win over then #5 Florida by a score of 65-59, so they won’t be intimidated by Miami one bit. Loyola possesses a stingy defense that is 5th in the country allowing only 62.2 points per game. Miami doesn’t really have a go to guy to lean on; Lonnie Walker IV is their leading scorer at just over 11 points per game. Should the Ramblers dictate the pace and lockdown the Hurricane offense, then this could be one of those dreaded 11-over-6 upsets.
Midwest- (5) Clemson vs. (12) New Mexico State
New Mexico State is an intriguing team out of the WAC. They knocked off then #6 Miami in the Diamond Head Classic before narrowly losing to USC in the championship game. The Aggies are led by the under-sized, rebounding-machine, Jemerrio Davis, who averages 13.2 rebounds per game. Leading New Mexico State offensively at nearly 20 points per game is grad transfer Zach Lofton the 2017 SWAC Player of the Year when he played for Texas Southern. Clemson suffered a big blow when their star forward Donte Grantham went down with a torn ACL. The Tigers also have no tournament experience on their roster while the Aggies are returning to the tournament for the second consecutive season. New Mexico State could be one of the more dangerous double-digit seeds in the Field of 68.
West- (5) Ohio State vs. (12) South Dakota State
Mike Daum is the best player in college basketball that the casual basketball fan has probably never heard of. If you’re worried about bracket busting, he’s the one to worry about. He averages 24 points per game 10.5 rebounds per game and shoots 42% from beyond the arc. By the time the game rolls around on Thursday it will have been 13 days since the Buckeyes last played a game which was their third loss of the season to Penn State in the Big 10 Tournament. Ohio State does have the Big 10 Player of the Year to depend on in Keita Bates-Diop who averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds this season. Taco Bell Arena in Boise, ID has a long-standing history of hosting upsets in the NCAA Tournament most notably when 15-seed Hampton defeated 2-seed Iowa State in 2001.
Bonus Bracket Busting Upset
West- (6) Houston vs. (11) San Diego State
The Aztecs are playing their best basketball of the season at the right time, winners of nine in a row including 2 wins over #24 UNR. San Diego State is returning to the tournament after a two-year hiatus, following their run to the Mountain West automatic bid. The Aztecs are long and athletic with senior Malik Pope and freshman Jalen McDaniels teaming up for a two headed monster that can defend all 5 positions. San Francisco transfer junior Devin Watson and senior guard Trey Kell lead a poised and experienced backcourt that has given the Aztecs their swagger back. Senior guard Rob Gray who averages 18.5 points per games leads Houston. The Cougars have been playing great basketball as of late winning 11 of their last 14 games. This could be one of the under-the-radar bracket busting upset picks.