March Madness: 10 potential NCAA tournament upsets ranked by likelihood 


Upsets define the NCAA tournament. 

Without them, it the next two weekends would probably be cool but not nearly as memorable. 

Picking the right upsets — and avoiding the wrong ones — is a key to winning bracket pools, too. 

That’s a shame because those are the hardest things to do. 

›› RELATED: Can Wright State beat Tennessee? Here’s what the experts are saying

›› RELATED: Mike Hartsock’s podcast with Wright State’s Loudon Love

Well, I can’t tell you which upsets to pick, but here are 10 matchups that caught my eye for one reason or another. 

They are rated by likelihood with “1” meaning we don’t think it will happen, but it’s not out of the question and “5” meaning put it down in ink. 

  

Davidson vs. Kentucky 

John Calipari’s Wildcats are talented, as always. They also seem to be heating up at the right time, having won seven of their last eight games and the SEC tournament. 

Davidson has won eight of nine, including two wins over Rhode Island, one of which got them into the Big Dance. 

The 12th seed has a star senior forward in Peyton Aldridge and a star freshman guard in Kellan Grady. 

They can really score but have a hard time defending while Kentucky is in KenPom’s top 25 in both. 

Likelihood: 1 

Murray State vs. West Virginia 

The Mountaineers come from perhaps the toughest league in the country, and they play a unique style that can be hard to prepare for. 

They endured a cold stretch in the middle of the season but finished with a strong showing at the Big 12 tournament. 

The Racers handle the ball well, but it’s tough to go against the experience of the Mountaineers — especially if big man Sagaba Konate avoids foul trouble and is able to patrol the paint. 

Likelihood: 1 

Texas Tech vs. Stephen F. Austin 

The Red Raiders are one of the nation’s elite defenses, and they play at a pretty slow pace. 

The Lumberjacks are also a defense-first team, but they want to play fast. 

Which style will win out? 

Likelihood: 2 

Montana vs. Michigan 

The Grizzlies are good, and they have plenty of size to match up with a power-conference team. 

Michigan was hot when last we saw them… but that was more than a week ago. Have they been resting or rusting? 

Three-point defense is a big concern for Montana. 

Likelihood: 2 

Marshall vs. Wichita State

The Thundering Herd are one of the feel-good stories of the tournament thanks to quirky coach Dan D’Antoni. 

Wichita State has an elite offense but is just ordinary on defense. 

Styles make fights, but I tend to like WSU’s experience edge here. 

Likelihood: 3

South Dakota State vs. Ohio State

This game immediately caught my eye because the power-conference team will be at a big NCAA tournament experience disadvantage. 

These are two defense-first teams that revolve around a future NBA player. 

Which one will be better Thursday, SDSU’s Mike Daum or Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop?  

The Buckeyes should benefit from some time off, but how long will it take them to get into a rhythm offensively? 

Likelihood: 3

St. Bonaventure or UCLA (First Four) vs. Florida 

Florida has some familiar names, and the Gators rank in the top 40 in offense and defense at KenPom.com

The Bonnies and the Bruins are both offense-first teams who will have a chance to get into a groove with a First Four game. 

Someone inevitably parlays a win in Dayton to one in the round of 64, too. 

Likelihood: 4

Loyola-Illinois vs. Miami (Fla.) 

The balanced Hurricanes will be without one of their key players, injured guard Bruce Brown, and they only rank six spots ahead of the Ramblers in KenPom.com rankings anyway despite being seeded five spots higher. 

Loyola has the No. 24 defense in the country and a solid offensive rating, too. 

Likelihood: 4

Wright State vs. Tennessee 

The biggest challenge for the Raiders will be scoring enough points. They have the defense to keep it close and a big lineup for a small-conference team, so they don’t have to worry about being overwhelmed from that standpoint. 

The Volunteers have four players who average at least nine points per game and can shoot the three. They foul a lot, though, and aren’t a great rebounding team. 

Likelihood: 4

Clemson vs. New Mexico State 

The Aggies are no average mid-major. They are in the tournament for the fifth straight year, and they rank 14th in the country in defensive efficiency. 

They also have a point guard from Dayton — Dunbar’s A.J. Harris — so we’re extra interested in this game. 

Clemson is tough defensively, too, but the Tigers have lost five of their last eight games and will be missing No. 2 scorer Donte Grantham, who is out for the year with a knee injury. 

Likelihood: 5 


Reader Comments


Next Up in Sports

HS Scores 12/10: WLS rallies past Ft. Loramie

Girls Basketball Monday’s Results Bellbrook 65, Northmont: Mescher (B) 12; McCrary (N) 8 Dunbar 63, Belmont 8: McClusky, Moore, Jones (D) 8; Miamisburg 36, Lebanon 34: Pringle (M) 20 Miami Valley 33, Dayton Christian 21: LCA 61, Yellow Springs 21: Ahner (L) 17; New Bremen 51. Lincolnview 40: Madison (N) 19; Mendenhall (L) 11 Tri- Village 58,...
HS Roundup 12/10: Bellbrook blows past Northmont

Bellbrook 65, Northmont 30: Maria Mescher paced Bellbrook with 12 points and Dreann Pryce added 10. Dunbar 63, Belmont 6: 13 girls got in on the scoring for Dunbar in the blowout victory. Lakota East 40, Harrison 36: Logan Fox finished with 14 points and Lily Rupp 10 as Lakota East had a 10-points swing in the final quarter to pull out the win. Lebanon...
Cincinnati Reds claim relief pitcher on waivers from Red Sox
Cincinnati Reds claim relief pitcher on waivers from Red Sox

The Cincinnati Reds on Monday claimed left-handed relief pitcher Robby Scott on waivers from the Boston Red Sox. Scott, 29, made just nine appearances (0-1, 8.10 ERA) with the Red Sox last season, but was dominant in 45 games (1.86 ERA, 45 1/3 innings, 63 strikeouts) at Triple-A Pawtucket. In 2017, Scott was 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA in 57 games out of the...
Miami RedHawks get commitment from local linebacker 
Miami RedHawks get commitment from local linebacker 

Max Wynn won’t have to go far to continue his football career.  The Centerville linebacker announced Sunday he has verbally committed to Miami University.  The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Wynn had 35 tackles in five games for the Elks last season. He is Ohio’s No. 56 player in the 247Sports Composite rankings and a three-star prospect...
Running back Mixon a bright spot for struggling Bengals
Running back Mixon a bright spot for struggling Bengals

Joe Mixon went four straight weeks averaging just over a dozen carries per game, and although mostly productive in those limited touches, game situations prevented the Cincinnati Bengals from using the second-year running back more. Finally on Sunday, the Bengals were able to unleash Mixon, and the result was his second 100-yard rushing performance...
More Stories