Selection Sunday marked the beginning of the madness as predictions for the NCAA Tournament were made, including the numerous upsets that make March unique. Here are five of my favorite first-round upsets you should look out for when games tip off Thursday.
No. 12 Charleston over No. 5 San Diego State
At 31-3, Charleston will be a trendy first-round upset pick after being ranked in the AP Top 25 earlier in the season. This matchup has all the makings of an upset, as Charleston relies on threes offensively, which can make or break a team in the NCAA Tournament. On the other side, San Diego State hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2015 and focuses on stopping the three-point shot defensively. It’ll make a great matchup with two different teams whenever Charleston has possession.
No. 13 Lousiana over No. 4 Tennessee
The Volunteers will not be full-strength going into this game and will face the Sun Belt Champions. Tennessee fell from grace after being ranked in the Top 10 and falling to No. 17 in the AP Poll. Along with an early SEC Tournament exit against Missouri, and will play against a 26-7 Lousiana team. The CBS crew immediately pointed out the flaws in Tennessee during the Selection Show, including Seth Davis.
“Tennessee overseeded because of their record, but they don’t have their point guard in Zakai Zeigler,” Davis said.
No. 12 VCU over No. 5 Saint Mary’s
The A-10 Champions in VCU have played like a Top-25 team in March and will look to make a statement in the NCAA Tournament. The Rams have won their past eight games and will be a popular 12-5 upset pick against the 26-7 Saint Mary’s. Scoring will be hard to find as it’ll be a defensive battle, with Saint Mary’s having the fifth-best defense in the country and VCU ranking 24th.
No. 13 Furman over No. 4 Virginia
A potential 12-13 second-round matchup is a real possibility to go along with a Charleston first-round upset. This is Furman’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1980 and is a fast-paced team that can shoot threes. The offensive-oriented Furman will be battling against defensive-focused Virginia. The Cavaliers lost in the ACC Championship to Duke after a rough end to the regular season. Virginia will be ready, but unlike other fast-paced teams, Furman is a veteran-led group that will be a real threat to Virginia.
No. 11 Providence over No. 6 Kentucky
Providence snuck in as a bubble team and got an intriguing matchup against Kentucky. The Friars are led by Bryice Hopkins, who transferred from Kentucky and will be storyline throughout the days leading to the game. Kentucky had struggled to begin the season but finished strong after threatening not to make an NCAA Tournament appearance. Providence finished the season 21-11 in a loaded Big East Conference and relied on their offense averaging over 78 points a game. The Wildcats have struggled against offensive-oriented teams throughout the season, with one of their losses against the 22nd-best offense in Vanderbilt.
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