The field for the 2017 NCAA Tournament has just been announced. It’s time to start breaking down the matchups and figuring out which teams are on upset alert.
Top 3 Upset Predictions for Each Region of the 2017 NCAA Tournament
This is an essential part of any good bracket. I’ve compiled a list of my three favorite potential upsets in each region. You will need to check out my 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket for my exact predictions on how the tournament will unfold.
#1 – No. 10 Marquette over No. 7 South Carolina
The Golden Eagles are 17th in scoring at 82.5 ppg and want to outscore the opposition. South Carolina relies on their defense, which ranks 29th in scoring defense at 64.5 ppg. I would normally side with the better defensive team, but I don’t like how the Gamecocks finished the season. South Carolina went just 2-5 over their final 7 games. Worth the gamble with neither of these teams figuring to pose a threat to Duke in the next round.
#2 – No. 6 SMU over No. 3 Baylor
This is an interesting matchup that I believe could go either way. The Mustangs enter on a 15-game winning streak, but played in a weak American Athletic Conference. Baylor was once the No. 1 team in the country, but faded down the stretch. The Bears were just 5-6 in their final 11 games. I don’t love the Mustangs non-conference resume, but given the direction of these two teams it’s easy to see why SMU could win.
#3 – No. 5 Virginia over No. 1 Villanova
Keep in mind that just because I have an upset listed it doesn’t mean I’m taking it in my bracket. This is one of them. With that said, I don’t hate it. If you are like me and have Duke making the Final Four in the East, it isn’t going to kill you to have Nova go down a game earlier than expected. Virginia is definitely a team that can take down a top seed. The Cavaliers were the best defensive team in the country allowing just 55.6 ppg. It’s just come down to whether their offense shows up.
#1 – No. 5 Notre Dame over No. 1 Gonzaga
I was one that didn’t think Gonzaga deserved to get a No. 1 seed. I’m not saying this isn’t a good team. I just don’t buy that they put up the resume needed to be a No. 1 seed if they played in a real conference. I’m not convinced the Bulldogs will make it past the first weekend, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. That’s as far as I see them making it, as I got Notre Dame taking them out.
#2 – No. 10 VCU over No. 7 Saint Mary’s
One of the biggest mysteries of any team in the tournament is the Gaels. Saint Mary’s went 28-4 with 3 of those losses coming to Gonzaga. Considering how much I don’t believe in Gonzaga, it’s easy to see why I’m not a fan of the Gaels. Even though VCU lost in the A-10 Tournament title game, I still really like this team.
#3 – No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast over No. 3 Florida State
If you want to get crazy, this is an upset I could see happening. I’m not just taking it cause of what FGCU did a few years back. This team is legit. The Eagles only lost by 9-points in a true road game at Baylor and by just 2-points at Michigan State. The Seminoles have NBA talent on the roster, but struggled to win away from home in the ACC. I don’t think it will happen, but it’s one worth considering.
#1 – No. 11 Rhode Island over No. 6 Creighton & No. 3 Oregon
Two for one special! That’s right. I have Rhode Island advancing the Sweet 16 with back-to-back wins over Creighton and Oregon. The Rams are a team that were getting a lot of hype coming into the season. Like Duke but on a smaller scale, they are playing to their potential at the right time. Note that they beat Cincinnati and only lost by 10 to the Blue Devils in non-conference play. It certainly helps that both the Bluejays and Ducks have lost key pieces to injury.
#2 – No. 7 Michigan over No. 2 Louisville
I had a difficult time picking this one for my final bracket. I ended up siding with Louisville, but I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Michigan won. Sometimes teams just click at the perfect time and that seems to be the case with the Wolverines. After a scary plane crash, Michigan won 4 games in 4 days to win the Big Ten Tournament. If they can carry it over to the NCAA Tournament this team could make a deep run.
#3 – No. 4 Purdue over No. 1 Kansas
I want to make it clear that I have the Jayhawks going to the Final Four. However, it wouldn’t shock me if the Jayhawks stumbled in the Sweet 16 against Purdue. The Boilermakers won the Big Ten regular season title and I question if the conference is getting enough love. Purdue beat Notre Dame and played both Villanova (76-79) and Louisville (64-71) tough in non-conference. The Boilermakers are legit Final Four sleeper.
#1 – No. 12 Middle Tennessee State over No. 5 Minnesota & No. 4 Butler
Another two for the price of one. You can’t talk upsets without at least one No. 12 seed over a No. 5 seed. This might be the only real chance for the No. 12s, as I like all the No. 5 seeds in the other three regions. You will hear a lot about Middle Tennessee as a double-digit sleeper pick and for good reason. This team caught everyone’s attention last year when they upset Michigan State. I think they do it again. I really like them over Minnesota and think it’s worth the gamble to ride them against Butler as well.
#2 – No. 11 Kansas State/Wake Forest over No. 6 Cincinnati
The Bearcats are a quality team, but I think they are primed for an upset when they take on the winner of the play-in game between Kansas State and Wake Forest. I believe that team will be Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are one of the most efficient offenses in the country (7th) behind NBA prospect John Collins. I also think it’s worth the gamble, as I don’t see any of these teams getting past UCLA.
#3 – No. 10 Wichita State over No. 7 Dayton
This will be a popular pick and for good reason. Nothing against Dayton, who is a really good team, but Wichita State got the shaft by the committee. The Shockers are closer to a No. 5/No. 6 seed than a No. 10. They enter the tournament having won 15 straight and have a history of making a deep run. Unfortunately for them, their poor seeding figures to cost them. On deck will be No. 2 Kentucky and then likely No. 3 UCLA.
You don’t have to just take my advice. A good strategy to use is to look at the spreads. You want to find the higher seeds that are actually favored or at least not getting very many points. Our spread conversion page can show you the percentage chance of each team winning.
You also want to look at history of how each seed has done. Don’t go thinking a 16-seed is going to upset a one. It’s never happened and the chances are slim that this is the year that it does.