The NCAA basketball tournament is less than a month away and as usual, I don’t know what the heck is going on.
There are teams we figure are in that are out, and vice versa. No matter who is in or out, we are going to have a number of upsets.
When a “little team that could” gets hot early, gains confidence and executes down the stretch, bracket sheets around the county get tossed in the trash.
Even once we get past that opening round, there are quality teams in the second round that will lose. Teams that are seeded 7-to-10 are legitimate contenders for a deep run. Half of those will lose their first games while the winners will be rewarded with a game against a 1 or 2 seed.
Most of the higher seeds will hold, but there will be some major teams with great seasons that will be back in class a lot earlier than they expected to be. There is no single set of criteria that fuels these upsets, otherwise they wouldn’t be upsets.
One way of producing such upsets is teams hitting 3’s in bunches. They have to not only make them, but have no conscious to firing from afar. There are a couple teams I’m going to watch.
The MAC usually places only one team in the tourney, though my friend Bryan Leonard wishes it was more like 6 or 7. Regardless, right now Akron is undefeated in league play and a solid favorite to be that representative.
The committee doesn’t often do the MAC any favors when it comes to seeding, usually placing them about 11-14. Nonetheless, Akron is one of the top teams in the country at both shooting and making 3’s. They will probably have to win the MAC tourney to get in, but keep your eye on them.
The WAC is another league with usually only one representative. Newcomer to the conference is Denver. They are one of the best three point shooting teams in the country and a leader in attempts. Louisiana Tech is another. They hit them at a decent rate, though not with the accuracy of Denver.
Neither is a cinch to make the tourney. Utah State and New Mexico State will have just as strong of a shot to win the conference tournament. Whoever does get that automatic bid will likely look at a seeding similar to the MAC champ. Any WAC win will again be an upset.
Belmont has increased its level of play and visibility on the national scene in the past few years. Coaches and athletic directors have avoided the Ohio Valley powerhouse. Belmont has shown some vulnerability in the past few games, but looms as a potential upset special. Their conference has strong balance so Belmont is far from a lock to even make the big tourney. But, if they do indeed get in they are one of the best three point shooting teams in the land.
Two iffy entries from power conferences that would have upset possibilities are Iowa State and Illinois. If either or both do make the Dance, they will probably be one of those 7-10 seeds. Both live and die by the 3.
Teams who have that early round upset potential are often not equipped to sustain that run to the further rounds. Someone will defend them effectively from the perimeter or they will simply have an off night.
Illinois and Iowa State could win more than one game and advance to that second weekend. As I said, they are teams that will need to stay hot.
No matter what metrics you use, do your homework. This is one of the best four day stretches of the year. Picking winners makes it even better.
Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. You can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports. Chris has a dedicated thread in the Pregame.com forums, answering your questions and more. Contact Chris at [email protected].