2017 NCAA Tournament Preview

5 Potential Upsets

11 Rhode Island over 6 Creighton

Rhode Island just battled through their conference tournament to become the A-10 Champions. Now, they did enter championship week as a bubble team very susceptible of being left out of the tournament, but they are streaking at the right time. Creighton has played well as of late. They made the Big East Tournament Championship before falling to Villanova, but I believe the loss of their star point guard will really affect them come tournament time.

12 Middle Tennessee State over 5 Minnesota

Minnesota was rewarded the second highest seeding amongst Big Ten teams, which is ridiculous considering Wisconsin trounced them at the end of the regular season, and they didn’t make the tournament finals. Nevertheless, MTSU upset a fellow Big Ten opponent last year in Michigan State as a 15 seed. Now, they are a 12… the most popular upset seed, and they have a better team than a year ago.

14 Florida Gulf Coast over 3 Florida State

I’m sure most of you remember the Dunktastic Sweet 16 run that FGCU made a couple years ago. Well, they’re back… and they’re still dunking. They drew Florida State in the first round, which is tricky because they have some future NBA players on their team, but they are also one of the most inconsistent top teams in the tournament. We could certainly see an upset here.

12 Nevada over 5 Iowa State

Iowa State has been susceptible to first round upsets in the past, but after seeing how they’ve played on their way to the Big 12 Tourney Championship, I don’t think this will be an upset. HOWEVER, Nevada does have a couple NBA prospects on their team, which means they could make a run in the tourney. Just ask NBA All-Stars Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward.

12 UNC-Wilmington over 5 Virginia

Much like FSU, Virginia has been extremely inconsistent this season. The only reason they got a 5-seed is because they play in the ACC. UNC-Wilmington has some veteran players with tournament experience so I have them taking out the Cavaliers early.

My Final Four Picks

East: Duke

I think we can all agree that Duke has finally hit their stride after a late season skid. The Blue Devils are finally healthy. Amile Jefferson and Harry Giles are key to defeating the Villanova Wildcats, as they can matchup in the backcourt. What a couple of star-studded matchups with Josh Hart-Jason Tatum, Grayson Allen-Jaylen Brunson and Luke Kennard-Kris Jenkins.

Midwest: Kansas

Kansas has the best and most consistent back court in the nation. Mason, Graham and Jackson will lead the Jayhawks to the Final Four, despite lacking the size they’ve had in previous years.

South: North Carolina

In my opinion, this is the toughest region with UNC, Kentucky and UCLA at 1, 2 and 3, but I still believe that UNC is the best team in that group. They have the clearer bracket leading up to the Elite 8, while the Wildcats and Bruins will beat up on each other prior to that game.

West: Arizona

On the flip side, I think this is the weakest region in the tournament. It has the lowest 1-seed in Gonzaga, who is a great team, don’t get me wrong. I believe that Arizona and the Zags will have a rematch of their early-season matchup, where Gonzaga defeated the Wildcats. However, Zona did not have Trier or Jackson-Cartwright in that loss, which is why I have Arizona advancing to the Final Four.

My Potential Cinderella Story

11 Rhode Island to the Elite 8

Let me stress that I do not have the Rams advancing past the second round; however, if I were to pick a double-digit seeded team that had the best chance to advance deep in the tournament, they would the team. First, they start by playing Creighton. Rhode Island can certainly beat them. Call it momentum from winning their tournament. Call it Napoleon-syndrome from being the smallest state in the U.S. Either way, this team has something to prove… including that you can never wear too much blue.

Baby blue and navy blue DO look good together!

They would follow up their first round win with a game against Oregon. While, I do have the Ducks winning this game, they did just lose their defensive stopper, which could be a problem. Rhode Island could pull of the upset.

Next, they would play probably Louisville, but I have the Cardinals losing to streaking Michigan in the second round, so Rhode Island would need to take down the Wolverines to make the Elite 8. Suppose Michigan’s luck runs out, the Rams could make it happen in the Midwest bracket.

Now… let me be clear…

This is an unlikely scenario, so even I can’t say that Rhode Island could pull off that many upsets and then still beat the Kansas Jayhawks. Sure, they’d be riding a whole lot of momentum, but Kansas is arguably the best team in the nation… so my Cinderella story ends at the Elite 8.

Written by: Paul Schaum

Sports Writer. Avid sports fan. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater graduate. Currently living in Tempe, AZ.

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