Upset predictions heading into NCAA Tournament



Dave Jarman

It’s Tournament Time BABY, and this is the only sport where David can beat Goliath, the little guy can beat the big guy, which creates a lot of excitement and busted brackets during the next four weeks. Here are some potential upsets you may want to consider:

Stony Brook (13) over Kentucky (4)

Yes I know that Coach Cal and his one and done players are prepared for March every year, as the Final Four seems to be the standard for Big Blue Nation, but their first game is not a cake walk. Calapari even said on ESPN’s Bracketology that he watched Stony Brook and was impressed on how they played, especially how aggressive they were on the glass. The Sea Wolves are making their 1st NCAA Tournament Appearance after losing in their conference championship game 4 times in 5 attempts. They are led by two time conference player of the year Jameel Warney. The 6’8, 260 lb senior averages 19.8 ppg and 10.7 RPG, and scored 43 points against Vermont this past Saturday. They are also lead by South Jersey’s Carson “Tre” Puriefoy. From first seeing him play spring basketball in the 6th grade at South Jersey Sports Academy under head coach Chuck Flack to watching him develop at Bishop Eustace High School, Purifoy has the quickness and tenacity to drive into the lane, plays tough defense, and has a great basketball IQ. The Senior Guard averages 15.1 ppg and 3.1 apg and is not afraid to rise up to the challenge of playing against Jamaal Murray, Tyler Eulis, and Isaiah Briscoe. 

Wichita State (11) over Arizona (6)

The fact that the Shockers are playing in the First Four and are a double digit seed is scary. Over the past four years, this team has been to a Final Four in 2013, an undefeated season and the team’s first ever #1 seed in 2014, and beat the Kansas Jayhawks last year in the NCAA tournament. Lead by Seniors Ron Baker and Fred Van Fleet, this is a team that can beat anyone they face because of their guard play and they way they shoot the basketball, particularly three point shooting. Baker and Van Fleet alone average 38.5% from three point range, and have a FG percentage of 41.15%. They have to beat Vanderbilt in the First Four, but watch out for Greg Marshall’s squad to “Shock” this bracket.

(11) Gonzaga  over Seaton Hall (6)

Although Seaton Hall has a bad taste in the mouth of all Villanova fans, this is a young and inexperienced team facing a Gonzaga team that has lots of experience. A team that has made the NCAA Tournament for 11 straight years and stole a bid from Saint Mary’s in their conference championship game, they are lead by former Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer who averages 20ppg and can light it up from beyond the arc. Despite the talent that Isaiah Whitehead has, the Pirates could have their NCAA tournament journey cut short by the Mark Few’s Bulldogs.  

(11) Michigan  over (6) Notre Dame

A team who lost four of their last five games in the regular season, Michigan was on the bubble this entire month and needed to make a statement in the Big 10 Tournament. After beating a touch Northwestern squad coached by former Duke assistant coach Chris Collins, John Beilein’s squad was able to beat top seeded Indiana on a buzzer beater three from Kameron Chatman. These wins late in the season were able to propel the wolverines to the First Four against Tulsa. Mike Brey’s Irish are coming off of a hideous loss against outright ACC Champion North Carolina when they were held to 49 points, including shooting 15-50 from the field. If Zach August, Demetrius Jackson, and South Jersey’s Steve Vasturia can’t bounce back from this loss, look for Chatman and 6’8 guard Duncan Robinson to make a run in this tournament, as both players love to shoot the ball behind the arc (assuming they will beat Tulsa in the First Four).  

(11) Northern Iowa over (6) Texas

Both teams have something in common: they both beat North Carolina at their home floors early in the season. The Panthers were the first team to beat the Tar Heels this season, and did that with great defense and perimeter shooting. The last time they played in Oklahoma City in the NCAA Tournament, they upset #1 Kansas in 2010. By winning their conference tournament on a buzzer beater from the foul line, Northern Iowa prides themselves on team defense by allowing only 62.9 ppg and rebounding with a team average of 30.1. This team is hot, winning 12 of their last 13 games. Despite Shaka Smart making the NCAA Tournament in his first year at Texas, he and team leaders Javon Felix and Isaiah Taylor are going to have their hands full in this first round matchup.   

(14) Iona over (4) Iowa State

After beating and stealing an automatic bid from Monmouth in the conference championship game, Iona can prove they can play with the big boys. The Gales like to score many points, averaging 79.6 ppg, and are lead by AJ English (22.4 ppg, 42.9 FG%) and Deyshonee Much (45% 3pt FGPG), who hit a go-ahead three pointer against Monmouth this past week. Iowa State has the makings of a Sweet 16-Elite 8 team lead by All-American Georges Niang (19.8 ppg, 54.7FG%), but this same team was upset by UAB as a 3 seed last year in the NCAA Tournament. Some are afraid history can repeat itself despite beating Top 10 teams Kansas and Oklahoma this season.