Upset picks that are not for the faint of heart

Hey they have the same record! Hint, hint.

Hey they have the same record! Hint, hint.

While winning an office pool is nice but the real test of a March Madness “expert” is calling for a massive upset and getting it right. Picking upsets all over the place is not going to work and is cheating. But if you have the stones to pick an occasional 15 over a 2, then this post is for you.

5. 12 seed North Dakota State over 5 seed Oklahoma

Some people are even picking North Dakota State to go to the sweet 16. I can see why as the Bison are a spark in a munitions factory in terms of offense. NDSU is No. 1 in the nation in field-goal percentage shooting 50.9 percent. Oklahoma is nothing special on defense so it should be a coin-flip game. Take the little guy in those situations.

4. Dayton goes to the sweet 16

Ohio State and Syracuse are not perfect, opening the door for a Cinderella there. How about Dayton as it should be fired up to play Ohio State. The Buckeyes have been afraid to put the in-state foe on their schedule, but they can’t be avoided now. Dayton is a top-50 team in both rebounding and 3-point shooting. As long as the Flyers don’t turn the ball over, both Ohio State and Syracuse are in trouble.

3. The winner of Iowa and Tennessee goes to the sweet 16

Since these “opening round” games have come about at least one of those teams makes it to the sweet 16. VCU and LaSalle are the ones that really come to mind. Iowa is a top-50 team in rebounds, turnovers and offense. Tennessee is a top-50 team in defense. UMass will have a fight on its hands for sure. And some crazy thing might happen to Duke.

2. No. 14 seed Mercer over 3 seed Duke

Mercer matches up well with Duke as both like to shoot the 3. Mercer defeated last year’s Cinderella in Florida Gulf Coast to get here and almost won at Texas. The Bears should hang around in this one and get Duke unhinged. They lost to 15 seeded Lehigh not too long ago so another Duke collapse is not a stunner anymore. Mercer is also a top-50 rebounding team so Duke must dominate the turnover battle. If the Bears protect the ball they could pull it off.

1. No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky over 2 seed Kansas

And boom goes the dynamite. Eastern Kentucky is No. 2 in the nation in turnover margin. Just behind Louisville. Kansas is dead last in the Big-12 in turnovers. That’s a problem. Plus, if center Joel Embiid is out like we think he is for this game than Kansas will take a hit to its biggest advantages on the floor. That being blocks, rebounds and interior defense.

Will Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins be able to handle the pressure that comes in the NCAA tournament if a 15 seed is ahead with 2 minutes to go? Eastern Kentucky is also a top-50 3-point shooting team so it should not be gun-shy. If the Colonels connect from deep I truly think they’ll win. Better get ready Jayhawks. You’re on upset alert.

Honorable mentions
Stephen F Austin over VCU, Harvard over Cincinnati, Baylor to sweet 16, New Mexico to elite eight.


Bowl Preview Series: Can Iowa upset LSU in the Outback Bowl?

The thrill of New Year’s Day bowl games are almost here and I present my first bowl preview ever. The 2014 Outback bowl between LSU and Iowa. Hope you are a fan of gold helmets.

Worried Watch: Week 1

Superior college football teams love to schedule an easy home game, but what if that underdog knocks them off? Here are a few favorites that might be worried heading into the opener.

1. Rice at Texas A&M, Saturday

He's blue and worried. just like Kentucky football fans when their team is the favorite.

He’s blue and worried. Just like Kentucky football fans when their team is the favorite.

The Rice Owls went 7-6 last year but have almost the whole team back. Texas A&M has plenty of distractions with their quarterback Johnny Manziel, and lost most of the their defense. Rice is predicted to be near the top of Conference USA and has a senior quarterback in Taylor McHargue ready to slug it out with Manziel. It would not be too much of a stretch to suggest Rice can steal a win. Crazier things have happened.

2. Western Kentucky vs. Kentucky, Saturday

The Hilltoppers went into Lexington last year and beat the Wildcats 32-31 in overtime. On Saturday they play in a neutral site in Nashville, Tenn. so the odds might be even more in Western Kentucky’s favor. It’s really hard to call this an upset really. I’m sure Kentucky fans would be happy with a win period.

3. Indiana State at Indiana, Thursday

I live in about an hour away from the two schools and this is not a hard one to figure out. Indiana has never been good at football and while some are calling for an improved year their defense is … not good. Most magazines I’ve seen has the Hoosiers near the bottom of the Big Ten in defense. The Sycamores should be able to move the ball and stay close like they did last year before losing 24-17. Just another play here or there and maybe Indiana State wins it.

4. Southern Illinois at Illinois, Saturday

Another FCS school taking a Big Ten neighbor. Illinois, like Indiana has a bad defense. Just three starters back on that side of the ball.  Ouch. In nerd language that’s like playing Call of Duty with a couple of teammates who have never touched a controller before. Southern Illinois may just have a shot here to pull off the upset. It’s hard not to yell for a team called the Salukis anyway.

5. Northern Illinois at Iowa, Saturday

Not to be outdone by their southern counterparts, Northern Illinois plans to down a Big Ten team too. To me a Northern Illinois win at Iowa would not be an upset. For a team that went to the Orange Bowl a year ago the Huskies better beat the Hawkeyes (4-8 last year). Still, Iowa won this game in 2012 on a neutral site and are the Big Ten team going up against a MAC. Will call this a game where both fan bases are worried.

On deck: Utah State at Utah, Northern Iowa at Iowa. FIU at Maryland, Arkansas vs. UL Lafayette, Austin Peay at Tennessee.