We’ve all been there — just a day or two into the NCAA tournament and you’re tearing up your bracket in a blind rage.
This year’s tournament features some strong No. 1 seeds in Louisville, Kansas, Indiana and Gonzaga. While the highly-ranked teams are certainly in those positions for a reason, the whole pageantry of March Madness centers on the emergence of the underdogs.
The following are some teams that could leave you marking up your bracket with a red pen. Just don’t say we didn’t try to warn you.
No. 12 OREGON
The Ducks are less of a Cinderella-in-waiting and more of a legitimate contender that got hosed by a poor ranking. Oregon finished the year at 26-8 and proved its worth by capping the year with a Pac-12 Tournament championship win over UCLA. We can all ponder what the selection committee was smoking when they pegged the Ducks as a No. 12 seed, but they are still poised to do some damage.
Their first-round match-up with Oklahoma State is a tough one, but they’ll be playing it out in San Jose, California, giving Oregon fans a chance to attend and swing momentum. If the Ducks win, they’d be faced with a more favorable match-up against either St. Louis or New Mexico State.
No. 11 BELMONT
Belmont has yet to win an NCAA tournament game after five appearances. All that could change as they take on No. 6-seeded Arizona. Plain and simply, Belmont knows how to score the ball, led by sharpshooting guard Ian Clark, who averages 18.1 points per game. Teams that can connect on the deep ball thrive in March — at least, they’re the most likely candidates to score a surprising upset.
No. 10 IOWA STATE
The Cyclones have a sneaky savvy to them. With transfers like Korie Lucious, who has played in a Final Four when he was with Michigan State, Iowa State is by no means in foreign territory. They are another high-octane offense that could give No. 7-seeded Notre Dame fits in the first full round of the tournament.
No. 13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
You don’t have faith in the mighty Jack Rabbits?
Well, we don’t blame you. South Dakota State has to take on a strong No. 4-seeded Michigan out of the Big Ten. Even worse, the game is being played on Michigan soil (Auburn Hills, Michigan). Still, this is a Michigan team loaded with youth and inexperience. The guys that did come back from last year are the same players who dropped their first-round match-up against a lowly Ohio team. The Jack Rabbits could become the marquee upset of the tournament.
No 11 BUCKNELL
These champions of the Patriot League pieced together a very solid season, finishing with a 28-5 record. Not only is Bucknell poised to upset Butler in their first game; they are tooled to make a run at the Sweet 16. Before we get ahead of ourselves, look at their first hurdle — Butler. This is not the same Butler team that has made long runs through the tournament in years previous. They have shown chinks in their armor throughout the season, and those are weaknesses Bucknell will be able to utilize.
Other upset specials to consider:
- No. 14 Davidson over No. 3 Marquette
- No. 12 Akron over No. 5 VCU
- No. 11 Minnesota over No. 6 UCLA