BOZICH | Five upsets to help you win your NCAA Tournament bracket pool
Looking for upsets to gain an edge in your NCAA Tournament bracket challenge? Rick Bozich offers one in each regional for the 2017 tournament.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There is one upset on the NCAA Tournament bracket that everybody but Rick and Richard Pitino are forecasting -- and it's not the game Louisville will play against Jacksonville State in Indianapolis Friday.
It's the one Minnesota will play against Middle Tennessee Thursday in Milwaukee.
The Gophers are seeded fifth. The Blue Raiders are seeded 12th. The Blue Raiders are favored by a point at VegasInsiders.com.
Forget seeding. Vegas is telling you that a Minnesota victory would be the upset.
Minnesota lacks tournament experience. The Gophers are a team of youngsters that Ken Pomeroy ranks No. 298 in overall playing experience. They're also missing Akeem Springs, the guy who hit the game-winner against Indiana and moved into Pitino's starting lineup late in the season. Tore his Achilles. Done.
Middle Tennessee is a band of veterans, the 10th most experienced team in the tournament, a group led by three seniors that took down Michigan State by nine in the first round last season. (Conveniently, few remember the rest of the Blue Raiders' 2016 story. Syracuse blew out MTSU by 25 points in round two.)
Middle has won 20 of its last 21 and has two victories over NCAA teams (UNC-Wilmington and Vanderbilt) on its NCAA resume.
When ESPN posts the numbers from its Bracket Challenge, odds are more people will pick Middle than Minnesota.
If you're looking for upsets, that's a start. Here are four others -- one from each regional -- for your office pool consideration.
Wichita State (10-seed) over Dayton (7-seed)
This is another upset that is not an upset. The Tournament Selection Committee valued Wichita as a 10-seed. Few serious students of basketball agree. That includes students wagering serious money in Las Vegas.
The Shockers opened as a 6 ½-point favorite Sunday. The number has yet to slide below six points.
Ken Pomeroy's formula likes Wichita by 7. Jeff Sagarin's formula makes it 7.56. Nate Silver's numbers at 538 puts Wichita's win probability at 69 percent.
The upset will be if Dayton, not Wichita State, is Kentucky's second-round opponent Sunday in Indianapolis.
Why did the committee doubt Wichita, even though Gregg Marshall's team has won 26 of its last 28 games?
The Shockers lack a single victory against a member of the 68-team field. Dayton won six of nine games against NCAA competition. So beware. But Wichita is hardly your typical 10-seed.
Xavier (11-seed) over Maryland (6-seed)
Sorry to go over this again, but is an upset really an upset if the team that is favored wins?
Technically, because of seeding, it will be labeled an upset if Xavier topples Maryland Thursday in Orlando.
Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin disagree. Their formulas favor Xavier -- Pomeroy by 1 point, Sagarin by 1.44 points. In Vegas, the Terps have held as a 2-point favorite since Sunday. Nate Silver’s 538 formula puts Maryland's win probability at a modest 51 percent.
Maryland relies on point guard Melo Trimble and a band of freshmen. The Terps are the fifth-least experienced team in the field. It showed down the stretch. Maryland lost four of its last six and six of its last 10.
Rhode Island (11-seed) over Creighton (6-seed)
This one looks like a gimme. On Jan. 16, Creighton beat Xavier to move to 18-1. The Bluejays were a reasonable pick to finish second to Villanova in the Big East.
But the Xavier victory was a costly victory. Maurice Watson, the Bluejays' point guard, suffered a season-ending knee injury. Without Watson, Creighton split its final 18 games.
Rhode Island employs a pressing defense. They pursue turnovers and foul opposing guards early and often. If you can hold up against the pressure, you'll shoot a lot of free throws. Only two teams in the tournament have a higher free throw rate by opponents than Rhode Island.
The frenetic style works. Rhode Island has won its last eight games -- and only two were played at home.
Marquette (10-seed) over South Carolina (7-seed)
Is it really an upset if a team that tied for third place in the Big East (Marquette) beats a team that tied for third in the SEC?
It is, according to the seed lines.
This is another one where Pomeroy (Marquette by 1) and Sagarin (Marquette by 0.23) disagree with Las Vegas (Gamecocks by 1 ½).
South Carolina is one of the nation's best defensive teams but painful to watch on offense. They've also lost six of their last nine -- and half the defeats were to teams that missed NCAA Tournament.
Marquette is a Top 10 offensive team, but a mess on defense. They've won four of their last six -- half against teams that made the NCAA Tournament.
Golden Eagles, by a whisker.
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