March Madness 2019: Five upset picks to avoid during opening weekend

March Madness 2019: Five upset picks to avoid during opening weekend

Picking First Round upsets in the 2019 NCAA Tournament is easy. One could probably pick all the low seeds in the 5-12, 6-11, 7-10, and 8-9 matchups and win at least 40 percent of the time. 

The only difference is that you want to pick the correct upsets in your bracket. 

There are some match-ups though that you should stay far, far away from. Some upsets that sound good on paper or on television, which just don’t make sense. 

So, while filling out your bracket to try and get far in your bracket pool, keep this nearby.

First Round

No. 14 Yale over No. 3 LSU
Yale advancing to the Second Round over LSU is going to be a popular upset pick this week. Without their coach Will Wade it appears that once a promising season for LSU will fall flat very soon in the NCAA Tournament.

Currently suspended by the school, Wade is not involved with the program as they prepare for their first tournament since 2015. With a cloud around the program it is easy to say the players will be distracted, unprepared and not ready to play on Thursday. 

Despite all of these things, there is no reason to pick Yale here. The coaching staff is still intact. It is the same coaching staff that got them to a No. 3 seed and becoming the No. 11 overall team in the country. They’ve already played two games without him, winning one and losing the other in the final minute. 

And it is not like Yale is a barnstorming mid-major team. They wouldn’t be here if they lost to Harvard on Sunday.

No. 13 UC Irvine over No. 4 Kansas State

This is going to be another popular upset pick among brackets. UC Irvine has won 16 straight games and boast a 30-win season coming into the tournament. They’re up against a slightly depleted Kansas State team, who might be without their second leading scorer Dean Wade. 

However, don’t be so quick to count out the Wildcats in this First Round matchup. They shared the Big 12 regular season title, breaking Kansas’ long streak of championships. 

Besides, they’ve already played without Wade this season. Kansas State went 4-2 in that stretch with only losses to Texas and Texas Tech. The team is also hopeful that he can play by this matchup on Friday. 

K-State probably won’t go far this year, but it won’t end in the First Round. 

No. 11 Saint Mary’s over No. 6 Villanova

Looking at Saint Mary’s win over Gonzaga one might jump on the Gaels bandwagon as they go into the NCAA Tournament. But, if anyone has learned anything about Jay Wright’s teams in recent NCAA Tournaments, his teams will go on a run. 

It might not be to the level of a National Championship run this year, but they match-up well against Saint Mary’s. 

Villanova has a balanced rotation of seven players getting everyone involved in the scoring. That’s juxtaposed to the Gales who don’t go much deeper than their starters. 

It’s always turned up a notch in the tournament for the Wildcats. This should be no different.  

No. 10 Seton Hall over No. 7 Wofford

Wofford is the mid-major to watch this tournament. All four of their losses this year are to teams in the NCAA Tournament and in their wins it has not even been close. 

Fletcher Magee is truly special, bringing home 20 points a contest while shooting 43 percent from behind the arc. His team averages 83 points a contest and last scored below 70 points back on Jan. 19.

They’re rolling on a 20-game winning streak and are against one of the most up-and-down teams in college basketball this season. 

Seton Hall, while they have impressive wins, cannot be counted on to deliver in a big performance. 

You might look foolish if you have Wofford out in the First Round. 

Second Round

No. 7 Cincinnati/ No. 10 Iowa over No. 2 Tennessee

People will be high on Cincinnati to go on a run based on the manner they won the American this past week. In fact, of all of the No. 2 seeds Tennessee probably is the one many will feel uneasy about going far in the tournament. 

That is not to say though that the Volunteers will lose in the Second Round. As scrolling through tournament history one would notice that 2009 was the last time all No. 2 seeds made it to the Sweet 16. With Kentucky, Michigan and Michigan State all holding the other spots, Tennessee will probably get the short end of the stick.

Tennessee will force the issue sometimes, but more often than not, it will work for them. All five of their starters can score and their top six can all score. Not many teams can play at their pace.  
No. 8 Mississippi/ No. 9 Oklahoma over No. 1 Virginia

Given Tony Bennett’s recent history in the NCAA Tournament, and the Cavaliers loss to UMBC in 2018, it is fair to question how far Virginia will go this season.

But keep in mind, Virginia is one of the best teams in the country. On the defensive end, there is no one better than the Cavaliers. They have only three losses, two to Duke and one to Florida State. 

Match-up wise there is no reason to pick Ole Miss or Oklahoma in this matchup. Virginia has a more complete team, better offensive balance, more experience, everything you need for a run. 

All of which will get them back into the Sweet 16 this season. 


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Two more Georgetown players transfer out of program as Hoyas remain in turmoil

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Two more Georgetown players transfer out of program as Hoyas remain in turmoil

Freshman Myron Gardner and junior Galen Alexander are the latest players transferring away from Georgetown. 

Gardner and Alexander are the two other Hoyas, along with former Georgetown player Josh LeBlanc, who received restraining orders from a Georgetown student back in September. The restraining orders stemmed from an incident involving sexual assault, harassment and a subsequent burglary.

Alexander, who also played at Jones County Junior College and LSU, announced his decision on Twiter. In the announcement, he criticized the university for their handling of the incident and lack of support. He also professed his innocence of the allegations he is facing. 

"I have been publically shamed, threatened, and criminalized. I have been falsely accused and targeted by the media and my peers of crimes I did not commit. My character has been defamed and that needs to be cleared up more anything else. Very soon it will come to light that I am innocent and had nothing to do with the false allegations," Alexander wrote.

"In light of the situation, the University has allowed me to become a target and subjected to unfair treatment, with little or no support."

Playing in all nine games this season, Alexander averaged 4.2 points and 2.7 rebounds a game in just over 12 minutes a contest. This included considerable playing time in their wins over Oklahoma State and SMU after the allegations were made public. 

This is not the first time controversy has followed Alexander. While at LSU he only played in 9 games before being dismissed by coach Will Wade for disciplinary reasons.

Gardner told the Washington Post of his decision just hours before Alexander's announcement.  He will enter the transfer portal after scoring 25 points through eight games in his first collegiate season. 

As a result of these transfers, the Hoyas have seen four players leave their program in 11 days. LeBlanc and James Akinjo, who was not a part of the initial incident, announced their intent to transfer back on Dec. 2.

Only nine scholarship players remain on the Georgetown roster with over two-thirds of the season remaining.

Already the team was facing an identity issue for the allegations of their players. While all the players are now removed from the program, it is clear they were upset with how the university handled the situation. Either way, it is a bad look. 

In the aftermath of the complaints, Georgetown lost a high-value transfer from D.C. 


Syracuse comes to DC with drama swirling around Hoyas

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Syracuse comes to DC with drama swirling around Hoyas

Georgetown's season has flipped on its head. A once-promising season is now muddled in controversy and the unknown of what the future has in store.

But, as the Hoyas continue to navigate their way through troubled waters, there is one constant that remains: playing Syracuse. 

The Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry will enter it's 95th chapter on Saturday at Capital One Arena. One of the best rivalries in college basketball still burns despite how far apart the worlds of both teams are. 

Decades have come and gone - along with their once-great Big East conference - but once again Patrick Ewing is the leading face of the Hoyas and Jim Boeheim is coaching on the Orange's sideline. Both of whom are going through two of the toughest years during their time at their respective schools. 

Georgetown (6-3) is in the midst of turmoil within their program. Two of their top six players abruptly left the program in early December. One of which was their point guard, James Akinjo, the other was their sixth man off the bench, Josh LeBlanc. LeBlanc and two other current Hoyas are facing legal issues as they all have restraining orders from a Georgetown student. 

Despite the issues, the team has won two of their three biggest wins of the season since. Road wins over Oklahoma State and SMU gave Georgetown two top-100 KenPom victories that will go a long way for them in March. In Akinjo's absence, the current Big East Player of the Week Mac McClung has delivered masterful performances of 33 and 19 points respectively. 

Sputtering to a 5-4 (1-1 ACC) start, things have not been smooth for Syracuse either. All season the Orange have struggled to find their identity with no seniors and five freshmen on the roster. Their shooting has been inconsistent and ill-timed mistakes put them in early holes. Redshirt Junior Elijah Hughes and the coach's son Buddy Boddy Boeheim have provided most of the offense, accounting for 47% of their points this season. 

A rough start is not what Boeheim is accustomed to - before their win over Georgia Tech, 4-4 was their worst start in his 43-year tenure.

This won't be the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry of the 1980s or have the importance the games did in the late 2000s in the old Big East. But when the Blue and Orange take the court the intensity will be there for both sides. Ewing will be erratic on the Georgetown bench and Boeheim, well is Boeheim. The fanbases' disdain for one other will fill Capital One and all that energy should percolate down to the players. 

This is the final big test of each team's nonconference slate, but another chapter in the great rivalry.