Providence (10) Over Texas A&M (7)

Friday, March 16th

12:15 pm EST

Line: Texas A&M (-4.5)

I’m not sure what other people think, but I do consider a 10-seed over a 7-seed an upset. This is one that will happen, too. Neither team has caught fire heading into the tournament, but both feel like they have something to prove. Both came off heartbreaking losses in their conference tournament. Providence lost to Villanova in overtime of the Big East title game, and Texas A&M lost to Alabama at the buzzer. Both teams are not particularly good at shooting the long ball, but are very balanced scoring wise and rely on their defense to win the day.

The reason why I am choosing Providence is they have the edge on both coaching and experience–which can play a huge factor when both teams are very similar in a lot of areas. No matter what though, this is going to be a good game.

Butler (10) Over Arkansas (7)

Friday, March 16th

3:10 pm EST

Line: Even

Another Big East upset over an SEC team for my next one. This one, much like the other one, has me confused. While a 10-seed over 7-seed is an upset, it seems that both Providence and Butler are better than Texas A&M and Arkansas. Nonetheless, Butler seems like an easy pick, as they have found a way to win at least one game in the tournament the last three years.

I also don’t have to tell you–but I will–that Butler does very well when they are the underdogs. They run a slower pace and take very good care of the ball, which could hurt Arkansas, who has been very poor defensively for most of the season. What this game will come down to is both teams’ dynamics duos. For Butler, it is Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin, who average a combined 36.3 points per game. For Arkansas, it is Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon, who average a combined 35.9 points per game. In the end, I trust Butler.

Loyola-Chicago (11) Over Miami (6)

Thursday, March 15th

3:10 pm EST

Line: Miami (-1)

Miami has been playing rather average basketball for most of the second half of the season, after starting out 12-1–that includes winning their first 10 games–the Hurricanes have been a measly 10-8 since then and are hoping for Bruce Brown Jr to come back and maybe give this team a spark.

Loyola-Chicago is on an all-time high, winning 17 of their last 18 games, including 10 in a row and just clinched their first bid to dance since 1985. This is just a simple case of a team who hopes to be ready and a team that is ready. Loyola-Chicago is defensively sound and are among the nation’s best in points allowed per possession and have an offense that is very balanced, with four players who average 10 points per game or more while shooting over 50% from the field. The one thing Miami does have going for them is they have won four out of their last five without Brown, including a win over North Carolina. The question is, will it be enough? I clearly don’t think so.

UCLA (11) Over Florida (6)

Thursday, March 15th

9:57 pm EST

Line: TBD

I am jumping the gun here as I do believe UCLA will beat St. Bonaventure. The reason I believe UCLA will upset Florida is because UCLA is got a bad seeding, in my opinion. The only difference between Florida and UCLA is that Florida has a few more good wins. However, UCLA can definitely play with Florida. I think UCLA beats Florida because UCLA plays a much better tempo offense than Florida, they have bigger guys down low, and can match their guard play. The thing with this game is the inconsistency with both teams as either can go boom or bust. While I am confident UCLA wins this game, I can easily see it going the other way.

New Mexico State (12) Over Clemson (5)

Friday, March 16th

9:57 pm EST

Line: Clemson (-4.5)

Clemson started out the season 14-1, including wins over Ohio State, Florida and North Carolina State. However, like Miami, this team hit a wall, finishing the season 9-8, which has led to an underwhelming 5-seed after they were in the conversation for a 1-seed or 2-seed at the midway mark. It is no coincidence that this downward spiral seemed to unfold when Donte Grantham went down with an ACL injury, forcing him to miss the rest of the season. New Mexico State is yet another mid-major team who is having an amazing season and looks to carry some of that momentum into March. They are led by Zach Lofton–who is their premier scorer–and Jemerrio Jones, who is averaging double-digit points and rebounds despite being only 6-5 and playing at forward. New Mexico State wins because they seem to have more of an offensive identity, while Clemson still seems to be trying to find one without Grantham

Stephen F. Austin (14) Over Texas Tech (3)

Thursday, March 15th

7:27 pm EST

Line: Texas Tech (-11.5)

My final upset in the first round. Texas Tech–like several other teams on upset alert–started out red-hot but cooled down when it came to conference play, including losing five of their last seven games. They struggle to take care of the basketball, turning it over 12.5 times a game. That works out perfectly for Stephen F. Austin, who forces nearly 20 turnovers a game, which leads the nation by a big margin. Texas Tech does do a great job defensively, but they need to be able find a way to get the offense going, because against this Stephen F. Austin defense, you need to make every shot count. Texas Tech has three guys score over 11 points per game, but the next leading scorer only averages 7.5 points per game, and no one else score more than six points per game. I think Stephen F. Austin wins is because they seem to be more offensively balanced and consistent, as well as taking advantage of their ability to make teams turn the ball over to get some extra possessions.

Other Potential Upsets

Kentucky (5) vs Davidson (12): Kentucky (-6)

Houston (6) vs San Diego State (11): Houston (-3.5)

Ohio State (5) vs South Dakota State (12): Ohio State (-8.5)

 

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