The NCAA Tournament bracket is here and March Madness is upon us.
Filling out your bracket is a time-honored tradition, and wile a perfect bracket is virtually impossible, a winning bracket is always in play.
But in order to win you bracket pool, you need to correctly identify the biggest upsets.
The 2018 NCAA Tournament field has a handful of teams that could spring big upsets.
But the matchups didn't work out in the favor of teams like St. Bonaventure, who fell in the A-10 Tournament semifinals and were sent to Dayton to take on UCLA in the First Four. The same goes for Murray State and Bucknell, teams that were given less than stellar draws given their style of play.
But upsets will still happen.
Here are the ones you should mark down on your bracket.
RELATED: 2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET
Most Likely Potential 2018 NCAA Tournament Upset Picks
No. 10 Butler Bulldogs (20-13, 9-9 Big East)
Notable Wins: Ohio State, Utah, Villanova
Player to Watch: Kelan Martin (20.8 ppg, 44 FG%)
First Round Matchup: East Region, vs. No. 7 Arkansas
It's not a sexy upset pick, but it's an upset pick nonetheless. Arkansas's defense is ranked 103rd in the KenPom rankings and Kelan Martin is one of the nation's best scorers. Butler is an efficient team on offense and limits their opponent's chances on the offensive and defensive glass. Those are good blueprints to have if you want to pull off the upset.
There's also the intangibles. Butler is Butler. This is what they do.
No. 10 Providence Friars (21-13, 10-8 Big East)
Notable Wins: Washington, Creighton, Xavier,Villanova
Player to Watch: Kyron Cartwright (11.8 ppg, 5.7 apg)
First Round Matchup: West Region, vs. No. 7 Texas A&M
Texas A&M should have been a legitimate Final Four contender this season. That's how much talent the Aggies have on their roster. But their on-court product has been marginal at best. Providence played three straight overtime games in the Big East Tournament, winning all but the championship game against Villanova.
The Aggies have the advantage in the frontcourt, but games are won by backcourts in March. The trio of Kyron Cartwright, Alpha Diallo and Jalen Lindsey will be too much for A&M.
No. 11 San Diego State Aztecs (22-10, 11-7 MWC)
Notable Wins: Georgia, Gonzaga, Nevada
Player to Watch: Trey Kell (10.4 ppg, 4.1 apg, 4.0 rpg)
First Round Matchup: West Region, vs. No. 6 Houston
Houston's Rob Gray is one of the most explosive players in the NCAA Tournament field. But San Diego State is a high-major team on the defensive end and forces teams to play at a glacially slow pace.
The Aztecs also have five players who average at least 10 points per game. San Diego State probably won't advance past the first weekend, but they have the style of play and the type of roster to knock off a team supported by one dominant player.
No. 11 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (28-5, 15-3 MVC)
Notable Wins: Florida, Wright State
Player to Watch: Clayton Custer (13.4 ppg, 52.3 FG%)
First Round Matchup: South Region, vs. No. 6 Miami
2018 marks Loyola-Chicago’s first tournament appearance since 1985. The Ramblers aren’t just a great story, they’re also a major threat to pull off an upset.
The Ramblers have non-conference wins over Florida and Horizon Tournament champions Wright State and enter the tournament with a 10-game winning streak. Porter Moser’s squads is a top ten team in effective FG percentage and a top 50 team in effective FG defense. Before the bracket was revealed, I liked Loyola's chances to make a Cinderella run.
But they got handed No. 6 Miami and freshman sensation Lonnie Walker. Miami has more talent than Loyola has faced all season, but Loyola just knows how to win. Plus, dynamic Hurricanes sophomore Bruce Brown is not expected to play due to injury.
If you're looking for a bit of a gamble, take the Ramblers.
No. 12 Davidson Wildcats (20-11, 13-5 A-10)
Notable Wins: Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure
Player to Watch: Peyton Aldridge (21.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 48.6 FG%)
First Round Matchup: South Region, vs. No. 5 Kentucky
Davidson beat the two best teams in the A-10 (Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure), both NCAA Tournament teams, in back-to-back games to with the A-10 tournament. Don’t pick the Wildcats to win a Tournament game because of Steph Curry. Pick the Wildcats because they can score in bunches and have three players who can score in multiple ways. Peyton Aldridge, the tournament MVP, is one of the most prolific shooters in the country. He’s joined by freshman Kellen Grady, a versatile playmaker who can shoot and drive, and Jon Axel Gudmundsson, a do-everything guard with deep range.
They get Kentucky in the first round and while John Calipari's team clearly has the better roster, his team is not great at shooting. Davidson is. Davidson also has Bob McKillop on the sidelines. If you don't think Kentucky is a Final Four team (They're not), take the Wildcats here. The Davidson Wildcats.
No. 12 New Mexico State Aggies (28-5, 12-2 WAC)
Notable Wins: Illinois, Davidson, Miami
Player to Watch: Zach Lofton (19.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
First Round Matchup: Midwest Region, vs. No. 5 Clemson
The Aggies have made the NCAA Tournament in all but two seasons since 2010, and while they've had teams more equipped to win a tournament game, this team got a great matchup against a vastly underwhelming Clemson team.
New Mexico State ranks in the top 15 in defensive efficiency and Clemson ranks 297th in adjusted tempo. Yes, Clemson can score, but they don't do a lot of it. if they can't get it going against New Mexico State, digging themselves out of a hole is going to be mighty difficult.
No. 12 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (28-6, 13-1 Summit)
Notable Wins: Iowa, Buffalo, Ole Miss
Player to Watch: Mike Daum (23.8 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 42.1 3P%)
First-Round Matchup: West Region, vs. No. 5 Ohio State
Mike Daum is the best player in the country you’ve never heard of.
The 6-9 junior forward is a legitimate NBA prospect and is one of the most efficient players in the country. He is a matchup nightmare who has a bevy of postseason experience. This is Daum’s third trip to the NCAA Tournament and while the Jackrabbits have yet to win a game, they received a very favorable matchup. The one reason not to invest in SDSU long-term in the tournament is because they struggle to force turnovers. If the Jackrabbits get down big, they don’t create a lot of extra possessions from the defensive end.
Ohio State was looking like a team poised for a deep tournament run as January turned to February. But the Buckeyes have dropped three of their last five and are going to have a tough time containing Daum.
Of the three potential 12-5 upset picks, this is the one I'm least confident in.
No. 13 Marshall Thundering Herd (24-10, 12-6 C-USA)
Notable Wins: Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky
Player to Watch: Jon Elmore (22.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 6.9 ppg)
First Round Matchup: East Region, vs. No. 4 Wichita State
Due to recency bias, you're probably going to have Wichita State advancing to the second round. You probably shouldn't.
The Thundering Herd have Jon Elmore, the conference’s best player and one of the best pure scorers in the country. While the Thundering Herd don't have a bunch a great wins, they have Elmore, who can score on anyone in the country.
Marshall also lucked out by getting to face a Wichita State team that has faltered down the stretch given the amount of talent at their disposal.
Marshall plays a frenetic pace and loves to throw all sorts of pressure at their opponents. Wichita State has a lot of really good shooters, but they are limited in shot creation and don't enjoy track meets.
Wichita State has been a trendy upset pick in the past. Now they're on the other end of the spectrum, and Jon Elmore is one of the main reasons why.
No. 13 College of Charleston Cougars (26-7, 14-4 SoCon)
Notable Wins: None
Player to Watch: Grant Riller (18.7 ppg, 55 FG%, 40.3 3P%)
First Round Matchup: Midwest Region, vs. No. 4 Auburn
Unlike Marshall, a team that will use chaos at both ends of the floor to spring an upset, College of Charleston is going to force Auburn to play at a painfully boring pace. The Cougars have two players aberaging more than 18 ppg (Grant Riller, Chealey) and are an efficient team on offense.
This is not a flashy or sexy upset pick, but it's one that very well could happen.
No. 16 UMBC Retrievers (24-10, 12-4 A-East)
Notable Wins: Vermont
Player to Watch: Jarius Lyles (20.2 ppg)
First Round Matchup: East Region, vs. No. 1 Virginia
OK, just hear me out. Yes, a No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed. Yes, Virginia is the No. 1 overall seed. Yes, the likelihood that UMBC beats Virginia is very low.
But despite how good Virginia is, they're style of play is not conducive to success in a tournament setting. Should they beat UMBC? Yes. But don't be surprised if it's mighty close at halftime. Jarius Lyles has proven he has the clutch gene, and that's just the type of thing you need to make history in March.
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