THE FOLLOWING TEAMS HAVE THE TALENT TO SHAKE UP BRACKETS AND UPSET THEIR FIRST-ROUND OPPONENT. FANS OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL KNOW THAT UPSETS HAPPEN IN THE FIRST ROUND AND IS A MAJOR REASON MARCH MADNESS CAPTIVATES AMERICA IN THE 3 WEEKS IT IS PLAYED.
HERE ARE 3 TEAMS WITH THE ABILITY TO UPSET THEIR OPPONENTS IN THE OPENING WEEKEND
- YALE: (22-6): The Ivy League doesn’t have a conference tournament so the automatic qualifier goes to the team with the best conference record. The Bulldogs earn the right to head to the NCAA Tournament and are a very solid team. Head Coach James Jones has an All-Ivy player at his disposal in PF Justin Sears (15.8PTS, 7.5REB, 2.8AST). The senior from Plainfield, NJ was a decorated high school player who turned down offers from bigger schools to attend Yale. He has the talent to give the Bulldogs 1st round opponent problems. Sophomore G Makai Mason (15.8PTS, 3.7AST, 2.6REB) runs the show for Yale.
The Bulldogs have a first round match-up with the #5 seed Baylor Bears in the West region. Yale will have to contend with star forward Taurean Prince and Head Coach Scott Drew’s high octane offense. However, Yale was dominant in the Ivy League and have a star player in Justin Sears, who could play for any team in the country. Baylor will have a tough time matching up with Sears, the Ivy League Player of the Year. The question is can Yale slow down the game enough to give themselves a chance? We think so. Yale Guard Makai Mason will be the key to the game. If he can handle Baylor’s pressure, the Bulldogs can keep the game close and give themselves a shot within the last 5 minutes.
2. CHATTANOOGA (29-5): The Mocs have won 29 games on the season and are a very well-balanced club, with 8 players averaging at least 7.2 points a game. F Tre’ McLean (12.3pts, 6.4reb, 2.4ast) is one of the leaders. This team has the potential to upset its higher ranked opponent in the first round and can make some noise in the upcoming weeks.
Any college basketball team that wins 29 games in a year must be taken seriously. They are the number 12 seed in the East region and have a date with the Big-Ten regular season champions Indiana on Thursday night. The number 5 seed Hoosiers are led by star PG Yogi Ferrell (17pts, 3.9reb, 5.5ast). Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean was on the hot-seat before the start of the season but has done a tremendous coaching job. However, Matt McCall has done just as good a job leading the Southern Conference Champions.
The Mocs beat Georgia and Dayton in non-conference play and lost to Iowa State when they were ranked #4 in the country. Chattanooga will not be intimidated by Indiana. F Tre’ McLean is very good and will cause trouble for the Hoosiers inside. All the pressure is on Tom Crean and the Hoosiers. Will the pressure of playing in a possible close game get to the Big-Ten regular season champions? We will find out at 7:10pm Thursday night.
3. SOUTH DAKOTA STATE: SD State beat rival North Dakota State in the conference tournament final. The 26-win Jackrabbits are led by 6’9″ freshmen F Mike Daum (15.2pts, 6.1reb). G George Marshall (14.9, 3.5reb, 2.7ast) and G Deondre Parks ( 14.7pts, 4.7reb, 1.5ast) form a very talented back-court. Any team that wins 26 games in a season must be taken seriously come NCAA tournament time.
The number 12 seed in the south region have a tough match-up with a very talented but erratic Maryland Terrapin team. Maryland G Melo Trimble has really struggled as of late. The Terrapins have the talent to go to the Final 4, although they also have the ability to be upset by the Jackrabbits. Freshmen F Mike Daum has been phenomenal as he can cause trouble for a talented Terps front-court, led by Jake Layman and C Diamond Stone. Maryland has been so up and down the last month of the year where we really don’t know what team is going to show up.
The 26 win team and Summit League Champions have the talent to pull a major upset. 2 reasons. #1, South Dakota State is a very good team. Reason #2. Maryland has been playing very poorly lately. Although the Terps are clearly more talented then SDSU, all the pre-season hype and pressure might effect Maryland. If this game is close within the last 8 minutes of the game, that pressure intensifies ten-fold. If this scenario plays out, expect the fans to be on SDSU’s side, as we all know part of the mystic of march madness is to pull for Cinderella.