|Picking The Beach over New Mexico has been one of the most popular trends. Did you take the 49ers? (US Presswire)|
You've probably finished making your picks, right? But here's the thing: we know you've still got pangs of regret over a few of the choices you did or didn't make. We'd love to help you out here by giving your our four favorite upset picks. Feel free to use. This way, you can either take credit for the intuition or just blame us if we turn out to be way off.
Jeff Goodman's pick: N.C. State over San Diego State
San Diego State coach Steve Fisher has done a remarkable job this season taking a team that lost four starters and leading the Aztecs to a 26-win campaign.
But it'll end against an N.C. State team that's clearly more talented.
The Wolfpack snuck into the field as a No. 11 seed under first-year head coach Mark Gottfried. The resume wasn't overly impressive, but winning four of their last five -- including a victory over Virginia in the ACC tourney -- was the difference. San Diego State has a pair of talented guards in Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley, but virtually nothing up front. In fact, there's no one on the team that is a legitimate threat to score on the block.
That's why N.C. State should be able to expose the Aztecs and advance to the weekend and a date with either Georgetown or Belmont.
N.C. State has a couple of guys on the frontcourt in C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell who should be able to have their way -- and guard Lorenzo Brown has the size to matchup with Franklin, the Mountain West's Player of the Year. Gottfried also boasts one of the best pure shooters in the country with Scott Wood.
One of the reasons why N.C. State struggled this year was due to a lack of depth, but Sidney Lowe left Gottfried enough talent to get into the Big Dance -- and win a game that may appear to be an upset on the surface.
Gary Parrish's pick: Long Beach State over New Mexico
Long Beach State didn't really beat anybody all season other than an average Xavier team and a bad Pittsburgh team. But the 49ers played North Carolina, Kansas and San Diego State tight on the road. So there's reason to think they could push New Mexico in Portland on Thursday and advance to the Round of 32 of this NCAA tournament.
In fact, I'm predicting it.
Give me No. 12 seed LBSU over No. 5 seed New Mexico.
Seems like every year there's a little guard from some non-BCS school who gets going and carries his team to a win or two in the NCAA tournament. Casper Ware will be that little guard this year. He got kinda famous during the win over Pittsburgh because LeBron James Tweeted that the 5-foot-10 guard was "a problem out there." But that was back in November, and most of the country spends November focusing on football. Now it's March and most of the country is focused on ... Peyton Manning, of course. But also basketball. And on Thursday that focus will shift to Long Beach State and the problem it presents for the Mountain West Conference champions.
|Rick Byrd's Belmont team has come close but never won a tournament game. That changes this season. (AP)|
Jeff Borzello's pick: Belmont over Georgetown
It seems that one of the trendy upset picks in the round of 64 this year is No. 14 Belmont knocking off No. 3 Georgetown – and with good reason.
The Hoyas have a history of early-round upsets over the past few years, losing to three double-digit seeds in the last four NCAA tournaments. The Bruins are primed to become the latest Hoya-killer.
They might not have the length and athleticism of Georgetown, but they can speed the game up and beat the Hoyas down the floor. Georgetown is the nation's best 3-point shooting defense, but the Bruins can get open shots in transition, before the Hoyas can get back and settle in the half-court.
Defensively, Belmont has plenty of size to deal with Henry Sims and Georgetown's frontcourt players, with 6-foot-10 Scott Saunders and 6-foot-9 Mick Hedgepath. The Hoyas aren't explosive offensively, and Belmont is experienced and disciplined enough to guard backdoor cuts and foul-line facilitation from Sims.
Down the stretch, the difference could be Belmont point guard Kerron Johnson, one of the more underrated floor generals in the country. He can create plenty of problems for Georgetown's defense.
Belmont has been to the big stage before; it won't back down or be scared of Georgetown.
Matt Norlander's pick: Davidson over Louisville
I actually also really like Belmont over Georgetown, but Borzello's a diva and needed to take that game, so if the upset happens, he can claim credit. Well, I'm the one publishing this post, so I've got final edit power -- and now I'm on the record too, bro.
Here's my other savvy choice. You should root for Davidson to beat Louisville if for no other reason than to hope we get something of a repeat of this incredible picture from last season. That shot was taken in the closing moments of Morehead State's Round of 64 win against Louisville in Denver. I was there. It was an awesome game and I predicted Morehead State would take down the No. 4 Cardinals beforehand.
I'll also be in Portland, watching this game and the No. 4 Cardinals. Clearly the cosmos are swirling and at play here.
Biggest reason for the pick: Davidson has the ability to handle what Louisville does best -- press teams. The Wildcats turn the ball over 17.2 percent of the time, the 13th-best rate amongst tournament teams and No. 22 in all of college hoops this year. Inversely, Louisville has the sixth-worst turnover rate in the field, getting charitable and stupid 21.5 percent of the time.
I also like teams that make most of their free throws. Davidson sinks 77 percent of its foul shots -- top 10 in the nation. There's a great dichotomy between the Wildcats' good free-throw shooting and its penchant for letting the rockets fly from deep. J.P. Kuhlman, Nik Cochran, Chris Czerapowicz, De'Mon Brooks and Jake Cohen -- five starters -- shoot 34.2 percent or better from 3-point range.
I also like to pick a team to get an early upset when they've actually proven, at least once, they can beat a four seed or better from earlier in the season. The date: Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. The location: Kansas City. The result: Davidson 80, Kansas 74. That's a good sign. The Wildcats also looked decent in Cameron at Duke in November and fell by just four to Vandy in December. All three of those teams are better than Louisville which, if you could take a microscope and examine its DNA, is more of a six seed anyway.
Take Davidson. Feel good about it. Its coach, Bob McKillop, has been to a few rodeos before.