The tournament starts in less than two days, and by the end of the weekend, we will undoubtedly have seen upsets that will leave us scratching our heads. Just as certain I am that a few powerhouses will brought down by big underdogs, I can also tell you that there will be that guy in your family, school, or office that will brag about how they KNEW that 12 seed would make it to the Sweet Sixteen. Let’s face it: as much as we hate that guy, simultaneously we all want to be that guy. Here are a few of the more likelier upsets that could pay off in your bracket. I am going to give five Cinderellas (definitions for this term vary, but for now I’ll use it to refer to teams seeded 9 or lower that make the Sweet Sixteen) that have the potential to shock the world.
#10 Davidson: Steph Curry may no longer be eligible, but that doesn’t mean the Wildcats are without talent. They will look to run Iowa out of the building, putting up points in a hurry. If they can dictate pace of play and knock down threes, I like them to take down the Hawkeyes. If they can do that, they’ll have a chance at pulling a big upset over Gonzaga, who are notorious for folding in the tourney.
#12 Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks are back, and have the potential to do even more damage than last year, when also as a 12 seed they took down VCU in one of the tournament’s best games. Now with most of that team returning, including leaders Thomas Walkup and Jacob Parker, the Jacks will take on Utah in their first game. The Utes match up well against SFA, but have struggled down the stretch. If SFA can continue running an efficient offense and make the right passes, they can advance and will have a good shot against an overseeded Georgetown or a similar Eastern Washington.
#12 Buffalo: Speaking of SFA, Buffalo is positioned in the same place the Jacks were last season. No one was talking about the Bulls during the season, but they quietly had a really strong year in the MAC and had a top-40 RPI. They get West Virginia in the first round, and have the size and rebounding ability to pose a big threat. Remember, this is a team that led Kentucky at halftime earlier in the year (Insane Sweet 16 upset?). They would have a potential third round matchup against either Maryland or Valpo, and could manage to create a rematch with Kentucky.
#13 Eastern Washington: The nation’s leading scorer led an incredible comeback in the Big Sky championship in order to make March Madness. Now Tyler Harvey, averaging just under 23 points per game, leads the Eagles who at 80.8 ppg are third in Division I in scoring. They will try to pull off a huge upset against Georgetown. The Hoyas are a better squad overall, but they are overseeded as I’ve mentioned, and a team that can score is always dangerous. If they advance, they have a 7-footer that could give Utah some trouble, and they play a similar style to SFA. The Eagles won’t go down without a fight.