Everybody fears losing their Elite Eight or Final Four team by the second round (did anyone besides me have Syracuse going to the Final Four in the 2005 tourney?). However, when an early upset is picked correctly, you can have a serious advantage over the rest of your competition. Let’s take a look at a few teams that could be packing their bags early on.
1. Kansas – #3 Seed, Midwest
We all remember the losses to Bucknell and Bradley in recent years. Losing to Texas Tech by 19 a few weeks back, and then getting bounced by Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament adds to the questions. The defending champs have a very young team this year, and the lack of tourney experience could prove to be too much for them.
1st Round: North Dakota St
2nd Round: Dayton/West Virginia
2. Oklahoma – #2 Seed, South
Mizzou showed us this towards the end of the regular season: stop Blake Griffin, stop the Sooners. A physical Clemson team could easily knock off Oklahoma in the second round. Even Morgan St, who topped Maryland in College Park, could provide some problems.
1st Round: Morgan St
2nd Round: Clemson/Michigan
3. UCLA – #6 Seed, East
VCU is a popular pick for a Cinderella team this year as fans look for a repeat of Eric Maynor’s Duke upset heroics. If this holds true, the Bruins will be sent home early.
1st Round: VCU
2nd Round: American/Villanova
4. Duke – #2 Seed, East
Duke has been historically a great team in the tourney, but hasn’t shown up in recent years. This is yet another Blue Devils squad that relies on a perimeter offense, and that could be their Achilles heel once again.
1st Round: Binghamton
2nd Round: Minnesota/Texas
5. Michigan State – #2 Seed, Midwest
Who knows which Spartans team is going to show up, the one that can’t shoot to save their life, or the full-court offense that plays tenacious defense down the stretch? We don’t know their true identity right now, as they got bounced early out of the Big Ten Tournament.
1st Round: Robert Morris
2nd Round: Boston College/USC