One of the best parts about March Madness is picking upsets and predicting the next Cinderella story. Will it be another tried and true 12 over a 5? Or will a 16 seed win for the first time ever? Here are my upsets to look for in the 2nd round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
Stephen F. Austin Over Utah
The Lumberjacks won their first ever NCAA Tournament game last season, and are hungry for more. After starting the season 1-3, the Jacks have gone 28-1, almost sweeping through the Southland Conference and Conference Tournament undefeated. All three of SFA’s early season losses were to teams in the NCAA Tournament, including a 79-77 overtime loss to a very good Northern Iowa team. The Lumberjacks duo of Thomas Walkup and Jacob Parker are both long and athletic and could be difficult for undersized Utes like Brandon Taylor to defend. Utah comes into the NCAA Tournament 3-4 in there last 7 games and will face a Lumberjacks team that believes they can win.
Why the Utes win – While S.F.A. is athletic, the Utes have 7 footer Jakob Poeltl and should dominate inside. The Lumberjacks impressive record doesn’t include a single win over a team in the NCAA Tournament, Utah beats up the Jacks in the paint.
Buffalo over West Virginia
The Buffalo Bulls have been on the rise over the last 3 years and come into the NCAA Tournament brimming with confidence. The Bulls played 2 of the tournaments #1 seeds early in the season, both on the road. Yes the Bulls lost to both Kentucky and Wisconsin, but played respectable games that gave them the opportunity to measure themselves against the top talent in the country. A measurement that showed that Buffalo wasn’t that far off. Buffalo’s junior forward Justin Moss averages just shy of a double-double and matches up well against a Mountaineers interior that lacks any real size advantage. This is the first ever appearance by the Bulls in the Big Dance and they have all the talent to turn it into their first ever NCAA Tournament win.
Why the Mountaineers win – While West Virginia has had an up and down season, all 9 of their losses came to teams in the NCAA Tournament. Bob Huggins remains one of the nations’ best coaches and will have his inconsistent team ready to play come gametime.
Harvard over North Carolina
Harvard comes into the NCAA tournament on an unbelievable high. Knocking off arch-rival Yale in an Ivy-League playoff to win the conference and gain an NCAA Tournament bid is about as good an ending to a basketball season for Crimson fans as there could be. But don’t expect the boys from Cambridge to be content. The Crimson are playing in their 4th straight NCAA Tournament, and have posted 2nd round wins in each of the last two years. They post a team that is almost entirely upperclassmen, and will have the experience and drive to take down a good, but not great North Carolina team. Seniors Steve Moundou-Missi and Wesley Saunders will have to have great games, but the fact that they have done it twice before, is reason enough to pick the Crimson once again.
Why the Tar Heels win – While North Carolina hasn’t had a stellar season by their standards, they are playing their best basketball in the last two weeks. After losing 6 of 10 games to end the regular season, the Tar Heels picked up wins over Louisville and Virginia in the ACC Tournament and Roy Williams has his talented squad finally clicking. Harvard doesn’t handle the emotion well and falls off in the 2nd half.
Hampton over Kentucky