With the 2014 NCAA Tournament here, everyone at home filling out a bracket for an office pool is searching for the upset pick that can give them the advantage.
This year’s field appears filled with teams ripe to pull off an upset or two, and recent history has been very kind to the tournament’s lower seeds. Last year’s Sweet Sixteen run for No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast State proved that no team is too low to win a game or two.
Finding the 2014 NCAA Tournament upset picks is equal parts art and science. First, there is a bit of logic involved. While it’s odd that a 15-seed wins a game (despite what the last few years has shown with FGCU, Norfolk State, and Lehigh), you can count on at least on 12-seed winning each year. It’s also fairly common to see that 12-seed advance past the first weekend and reach the Sweet Sixteen.
Some years it’s even more common. In 2009, 12 seeds were 3-1, with Northern Iowa the only lower seed that year failing to make it through.
Some upset picks seem to come out of nowhere (and as fun as FGCU was last year with their dunks aplenty, few predicted they would win even one game). Others seem obvious, especially when the tournament selection committee gets a swing and a miss on where to rank a team.
Here are some potential upset picks for the 2014 NCAA Tournament:
No. 12 N.C. State over No. 5 St. Louis
This is the perfect example of the logic outlined above. St. Louis is the classic shaky No. 5 seed, a team that was once ranked in the Top 15 in the nation but tumbled near the end of the year. They lost in the first game of the Atlantic 10 tournament in an upset to St. Bonaventure, and have faltered on defense.
N.C. State, meanwhile, comes into the tournament on the heels of an upset over Syracuse and a win over Xavier in the play-in game.
No. 11 Dayton over No. 6 Ohio State
This time the A-10 gets some love. The Flyers lost only three times since January 29 — all of them to eventual league champion St. Joseph’s — and will catch a Buckeye team that limped into the tournament.
But Ohio State has the more talented team, so steer away from this 2014 NCAA Tournament upset pick if you don’t think momentum is all that important.
No. 13 Tulsa over No. 4 UCLA
This 2014 NCAA Tournament upset pick is all about the coaches. UCLA’s Steve Alford is just 3-6 in the NCAA Tournament, and last year his New Mexico team lost to another No. 13 seed in Harvard University. Meanwhile, Tulsa head coach Danny Manning has a fast-paced team and his own track record of success in the tourney.
No. 4 Louisville to win it all
Do you really want to win your NCAA tournament pool? Then forget about everyone else picking Florida and pencil the Cardinals in to repeat as national champions.
Many experts thought they deserved a No. 1 seed (or a No. 2 at worst), but for some reason the committee deemed them a No. 4. They still have the talent to make a run to the championship game, and the snub might give them an extra bit of motivation.
Good luck with these 2014 NCAA Tournament upset picks, and go win your brackets!