It’s the most wonderful time of the year – March Madness. While everyone is frantically researching teams, filling out brackets and checking it twice, FloHoops decided to answer the question on everyone’s mind: “Which upsets should I choose?”
There were thousands of games this season, so how could you make an informed decision without hours of research? We did our research so you don’t have to.
#10 Minnesota over #7 Louisville
Louisville comes into this matchup losing seven of the last 10 games; meanwhile Minnesota reached the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, defeating Purdue along the way (2-1 versus Purdue on the year). Minnesota should be riding high on the momentum of beating Purdue in the conference tournament. Amir Coffey is on a hot streak for the Gophers scoring the ball, putting up 20+ points in 5 of the last 6 games. The Cardinals' defense will keep them in the game, but Minnesota’s balanced offense might push Louisville to their limits.
#11 Belmont over #6 Maryland
Belmont lost the Ohio Valley Conference Title game to Murray State, but their efficiency on the offensive end is a scary matchup for opponents. The Bruins make 59% of 2-pointers, 37% from 3, 74% from the free throw line, and limit turnovers. Belmont is second in the country, averaging 87 points per game. The Bruins’ star, 6-foot-8 Dylan Windler, averages 21 ppg and 11 rpg. His versatility on the offensive end should overwhelm the Maryland defense. Historically, the 11 seeds have dominated the 6 seed, winning 8 out of the last 12 matchups the past 3 tournaments. Maryland has stumbled into the tournament, finishing 6-7 in the last 13 games. The Terrapins haven’t been consistent for the past month while the Bruins won 16 of their last 17 games.
#11 Saint Mary’s over #6 Villanova
The rankings in this matchup shouldn’t play much of a factor in picking a winner. Both teams are 5 spots apart in the latest KenPom rankings, which takes into account everything from offensive and defensive efficiency to strength of schedule. On paper, this game is much more even than what the rankings would suggest. Last year’s champion comes into their first-round matchup 6-4 in their last 10 games. Saint Mary’s won the WCC tournament, beating #1 seeded Gonzaga to snag the automatic bid. Both teams play at a slow pace; Villanova averages 67 possessions a game while Saint Mary’s averages 66. The Wildcats jack up threes in bunches, ranking in the top 5 in three-point attempts, but only making around 35% of shots. This bodes well for the Gaels since they have a top-10 three-point defensive rating. Villanova lives and dies by the three and with both teams playing to each other’s tempo, Villanova will die.
We saw the Gaels play against New Mexico early on in the year.
#12 Murray State over #5 Marquette
Ja Morant…enough said.
Morant leads a team that ranks in the top 15 in scoring, averaging 83 points a game. Ja leads the team in both points and assists, averaging 25 and 10. The Racers’ have 4 players that average double digits in scoring. One of the best NBA draft prospects, Ja Morant will take on another prolific scorer in Markus Howard. Howard has 3 games of 45+ points and has done his best to lead Marquette, but the Golden Eagles enter the tournament with a 5-5 record in the last 10 games. Marquette’s defense will be overwhelmed with the speed of play that Ja Morant and the Racers bring. Viewers of this game will be in for an exciting matchup with plenty of buckets.
#14 Old Dominion over #3 Purdue
Winners of the Conference USA Tournament and 10 of their last 12, Old Dominion boasts one of the best defenses in the country, allowing only 60 points a game. Purdue allows a lot of offensive rebounds and the Monarchs are one of the best rebounding teams on both sides of the ball. Both teams average about 68 possessions a game, so offensive rebounds, extra possessions, and second-chance points will be key in this matchup. Old Dominion has an established offensive duo in B.J. Stith and Ahmad Caver, both leading the team with 17 ppg each. Purdue’s leader, Carsen Edwards, has been in a scoring slump the past 3 games, shooting 26% from the field, 21% from three, and owns an assist to turnover ratio of 0.33. This slump could be caused by his nagging back injury that was at its worst during the Big 10 tournament. Purdue at home and away are 2 different teams. Purdue is a perfect 15-0 at home but 8-9 on the road or at neutral sites.
We saw them at this past Paradise Jam where their defense was on display.