Skip to content

Upset Watch: Five possibilities to keep in mind

Mar 18, 2013, 7:00 PM EDT

OVC Murray St Belmont Basketball AP

One of the most entertaining aspects of the NCAA tournament are the upsets that are bound to occur every year. Last season’s event featured a pair of 15-seeds winning on the same day, as Lehigh beat Duke and Norfolk State edged out Missouri. There’s also the history of at least one 12-seed knocking off a 5-seed, with that happening in every tournament of the new millenium but two (2000 and 2007). So what are some games you should keep an eye on when it comes to possible upsets? Here are five.

1. (11) Belmont over (6) Arizona (West)

Arizona has more size than Belmont in the paint, but this upset possibility focuses on what can happen on the perimeter. The Wildcats’ perimeter defense, specifically their defending of the three-pointer, has been a concern for much of the season. Opponents shoot 36% from beyond the arc, and given Belmont’s ability to hit the shot this is a concern for Arizona. Kerron Johnson and company make 38.6% of their three-pointers, and they score nearly 33% of their points via the shot. Rebounding is definitely a concern for Rick Byrd’s team in this matchup, but if they can convert three-pointers at a rate near their numbers for the season look out.

2. (10) Colorado over (7) Illinois (East)

Illinois’ reliance on the three-point shot is no secret, but in the Buffaloes they drew a team that’s done a good job of defending the shot. Colorado limits opponents to 32.3% from beyond the arc, a mark that ranks second in the Pac-12. The biggest concern for Illinois is rebounding, an area in which they’ve struggled all season long. Opponents manage to grab nearly 34% of their missed shots on the season, and with Colorado boasting one of the nation’s best rebounders in Andre Roberson this is an area the Buffaloes can exploit. And look for Spencer Dinwiddie, their best perimeter defender, to match up with Brandon Paul for much of the night.

(CLICK HERE: To browse through the rest of our 2013 NCAA Tournament Previews)

3. (12) Oregon over (5) Oklahoma State (Midwest)

The Ducks were shown no respect by the selection committee in regards to their seeding. But the committee made up for that by placing them in San Jose against the 5-seed Oklahoma State. Oregon has athletic wings such as seniors Carlos Emory and freshman Damyean Dotson, which will help them when it comes to matching up with Le’Bryan Nash. And with their size inside the Ducks have the tools needed to exploit Oklahoma State’s defensive rebounding issues. The concern: Marcus Smart. Oregon’s small at the point with Dominic Artis and Johnathan Loyd, so they’ll need to be very good in the areas listed above in order to win.

4. (11) Bucknell over (6) Butler (East)

Dave Paulsen’s team has won 12 of its last 13 games, and with senior center Mike Muscala leading the way the Bison are more than capable of doing some damage this week. With Cameron Ayers and Bryson Johnson on the perimeter Bucknell shoots 36% from three, but given the presence of Muscala and their ability to convert inside of the arc it isn’t as if the Bison are in danger of becoming overly reliant on the shot. In order to beat the Bulldogs, Bucknell will have to do two things extremely well: don’t allow Rotnei Clarke to go off, and keep Butler off the offensive glass. Butler rebounds nearly 37% of their missed shots on the season.

5. (13) South Dakota State over (4) Michigan (South) 

Yes Michigan made an appearance on the list of ten teams capable of winning the national title. But that doesn’t mean the Wolverines can’t be picked off in their first game. This game matches two of the nation’s best point guards (Michigan’s Trey Burke and South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters), so it should come as no surprise that these are two of the most efficient offensive teams in the country. If the Jackrabbits are to pull off the upset, which looks to be a tough chore if you’re a fan of advanced stats, they need to do two things: keep Burke out of the lane (far easier said than done) and win the rebounding battle.

Four other games to consider: 

– (11) Middle Tennessee (provided they beat Saint Mary’s) over (6) Memphis (West)

– (12) California over (5) UNLV (East)

– (10) Cincinnati over (7) Creighton (Midwest)

– (13) Montana over (4) Syracuse (East)

One game to be wary of: (11) Minnesota over (6) UCLA (South)

This is the game many latched onto almost immediately, so much so that Vegas has the Gophers down as a three-point favorite. But even with UCLA’s poor rebounding (Minnesota is the best offensive rebounding team in the country) and the broken foot suffered by Jordan Adams, calm down. Minnesota enters the contest having lost seven of its last ten games, and while that came against Big Ten competition it isn’t a lock that the proverbial light bulb will turn on for Tubby Smith’s team. The Gophers certainly have some advantages they can exploit, but this is by no means a guarantee.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Latest Posts
  1. Cheick Diallo leads East to McDonald’s All-American Game victory

    Apr 1, 2015, 11:31 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Getty Images Getty Images

    Diallo, who’s still considering five schools, led the way with 18 points and ten rebounds.

  2. Gregg Marshall to remain at Wichita State, won’t visit Alabama

    Apr 1, 2015, 10:57 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Reports surfaced earlier Wednesday that Marshall would visit Alabama on Friday.

  3. 6-foot-4 shooting guard becomes South Carolina’s fourth 2015 commitment

    Apr 1, 2015, 8:49 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    With Ty Johnson being the lone player out of eligibility, South Carolina may have some other moves in minds when it comes to getting down to the 13 scholarship limit.

  4. Arizona sophomore forward denies reports that he’s turning pro

    Apr 1, 2015, 7:31 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is projected to be a first round pick, but he stated that he still needs to talk with his mother and Arizona head coach Sean Miller before making a decision.

  5. Oklahoma sophomore guard Frank Booker to transfer

    Apr 1, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Booker played just 14.3 minutes per game this season, with the Sooners relying on the triumvirate of Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard on the perimeter.

  6. Rhode Island, head coach Dan Hurley agree to contract restructuring, extension

    Apr 1, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Hurley led the Rams to a 23-10 record this season, and with the amount of talent they’ll return Rhody should be an NCAA tournament team and a contender in the A-10.

  7. Eastern Washington guard Tyler Harvey announces intentions to turn pro

    Apr 1, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Harvey averaged 23.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game for the Big Sky champion Eagles.

  8. Eight uncommitted McDonald’s All-Americans give a recruiting update

    Apr 1, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram remain two of eight uncommitted All-Americans (adidas) Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram remain two of eight uncommitted All-Americans (adidas)

    With eight uncommitted McDonald’s All-Americans playing in Wednesday night’s game, there are still plenty of decisions to be made going forward.

  9. Maryland point guard Melo Trimble to return for sophomore season

    Apr 1, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Trimble’s decision to return is a big boost, and it ensures that Maryland will be a Big Ten contender next season.

  10. Liberty re-hires former head coach Ritchie McKay

    Apr 1, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    ACC Men's Basketball Tournament Semifinal Round Game Virginia Cavaliers vs Pittsburgh Panthers Getty Images

    Liberty re-hired former head coach Ritchie McKay after McKay spent a stint at Virginia as associate head coach.

  11. How Duke fixed its defense in the NCAA tournament

    Apr 1, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    (AP) AP

    What kinds of changes has Duke made to improve defensively during a strong NCAA tournament run?

  12. Kansas loses freshman Kelly Oubre Jr. to 2015 NBA Draft

    Apr 1, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Kelly Oubre Jr. will leave Kansas for the NBA Draft.

  13. Nebraska guard Tarin Smith to transfer

    Apr 1, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Nebraska is losing another player from the roster.

  14. Ohio State lands a top 50 Class of 2016 commitment

    Apr 1, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    Harrison Heath, Derek Funderburk AP

    Ohio State landed an impact forward in the 2016 class on Wednesday.

  15. Wisconsin stops selling Nigel Hayes-inspired shirt in campus bookstore over potential NCAA violation

    Apr 1, 2015, 10:10 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Wisconsin stopped selling Nigel Hayes-inspired shirts at a campus bookstore.

  16. Kevin Ollie, UConn coaching staff won’t attend Final Four in Indianapolis over state travel ban

    Apr 1, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Kevin Ollie and UConn will stay away from the Final Four in Indianapolis as the state of Connecticut has banned state-funded travel to the state.

  17. San Diego hires New Mexico assistant Lamont Smith as new head coach

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Lamont Smith, right, is San Diego's new head coach (Getty Images) Getty Images

    San Diego turned to a former player to lead the basketball program.