When filling out brackets, there are few things people want to know more than upset picks. Which are the smaller-conference teams that have the potential to win a game or even make a run into the second week. It used to be, “Which team can win a game in the NCAA tournament?” -- but it has become, “Who's this year's Butler or VCU or George Mason?” While there might not be any double-digit seeds likely to make a run to Atlanta, there are several that can win a game or two.
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Bucknell: The Bison got a favorable seed -- and their matchup is pretty nice too. Mike Muscala is one of the best big men in the country, and Dave Paulsen has a disciplined and experienced unit at his disposal. They take care of the ball and are outstanding defensively, especially inside the arc. Cameron Ayers could use his size and athleticism to create issues for Rotnei Clarke and keep him from getting hot. Going against Marquette in the Round of 32 is another potential upset.
La Salle: The Explorers will need to get big man Steve Zack back and healthy if they want to win games in the NCAA tournament, but their perimeter group is outstanding. Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren are both excellent playmakers and can knock down shots from behind the arc. Jerrell Wright has come on strong to be an option down low. If they get past Boise State, they can make Wisconsin uncomfortable.
Belmont: Is this the year the Bruins break through and finally live to their reputation as a perennial upset selection? They have the right matchup for it, as they can force turnovers and knock down 3-pointers – and Kerron Johnson and Ian Clark have the ability to really make life difficult for Mark Lyons and Arizona. Coach Rick Byrd has a deep and experienced roster, and they might win a game.
Saint Mary's: Can Matthew Dellavedova lead the Gaels to a couple of wins in the NCAA tournament? If Dellavedova gets hot, they have the chops to beat Middle Tennessee – and then the discipline to take care of Memphis in the Round of 32. Saint Mary's is really good on the glass, and they have a number of ways to score on the offensive end.
Middle Tennessee: The Blue Raiders will be looking to prove their worth in the NCAA tournament – and they have a First Four matchup against Saint Mary's to get a win. Kermit Davis has a deep roster from which to choose, and they like to force turnovers and contested perimeter jumpers. Marcos Knight can carry the load offensively, but who can shut down Matthew Dellavedova?
Boise State: The Broncos' five top-50 wins got them into the NCAA tournament, but now they are looking to get another key win to advance out of the First Four. They have a matchup against La Salle in a game that will feature a handful of terrific guards. Derrick Marks and Anthony Drmic are both capable of lighting up a scoreboard, and Jeff Elorriaga is one of the best shooters in the tournament.
South Dakota State: Last year, the Jackrabbits came within a few possessions of knocking off Baylor in the Round of 64 -- and now we will get a Nate Wolters vs. Trey Burke matchup. Can South Dakota State take down Michigan? Wolters obviously needs to have a monster game, and the Jackrabbits need to take care of the ball and keep Michigan out of transition. A bigger factor will be on the defensive end, where SDSU has to guard the perimeter more effectively than it has this season.
Davidson: Bob McKillop has been to multiple NCAA tournaments, and he has the experience during the Stephen Curry days of guiding the Wildcats to the Elite Eight. Last season, they fell by seven to Louisville in the Round of 64 -- and now need to take the next step. Jake Cohen and De'Mon Brooks are one of the best frontcourt duos you haven't seen enough of yet.
Iona: This is something of a reach, as the Gaels sit as a No. 15 seed across from an Ohio State team that just won the Big Ten tournament. However, Iona has plenty of talent on its roster, with Momo Jones and Sean Armand capable of combining for 50 points on a given night. Throw in David Laury down low, and the Gaels are no pushover.
Florida Gulf Coast: We've already seen the Eagles beat Miami earlier this season, so it's not out of the question that they can pull an upset as a No. 15 seed. They do against Georgetown, though, meaning they will need to be able to take a ton of punches and also play at the Hoyas' tempo. The backcourt of Sherwood Brown and Bernard Thompson is impressive, though.
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