As is the case every year in the NCAA tournament, fans can expect upsets early and often in this year’s version of the Big Dance. Unfortunately for the folks who spend hours trying to perfect the perfect bracket, picking the Cinderella teams is virtually impossible. Things that aren’t supposed to happen… well, happen, such as a No. 15 seed knocking off a No. 2 seed, and that is why it is called March Madness.
As for March Madness 2017, good luck filling out the perfect bracket, something that we will likely never see. However, in hopes of picking Cinderella correctly, here are five powerhouses that are on upset alert entering the 2017 NCAA tournament.
To the five powerhouse teams that made this list, you have been warned.
Reminder: While these powerhouses have made this list, that does not mean they are going to go down in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It just means these teams have their hands full, and if they take their first-round opponents lightly, they could end up getting a full dose of March Madness. Also, for the purposes of this article, a powerhouse is simply a team that has earned a No. 5 seed or better.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take on the Princeton Tigers in the first round of the dance. While a No. 5 seed might seem like a cozy spot to be in, it seems like a No. 12 seed knocks off a No. 5 seed on a yearly basis. Plus, the Tigers have this going for them as well:
The last time @Princeton_Hoops entered the NCAA Tournament on a 19-game win streak, it beat 12-seed UNLV in the 1st round in 1998— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 12, 2017
Princeton is a 12 seed. Since 2010, the Ivy League is 4-3 in the Rd of 64 as a 12 seed or lower, best of any conference with 5 such games.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 12, 2017
Why are the above tweets important/meaningful? Well, for starters, Princeton is, of course, a 12-seed. The Tigers have also won — wait for it — 19 games in a row. They haven’t lost since December 20. December 20!
The Fighting Irish might be coming off of an appearance in the ACC tournament championship, and St. Patrick’s Day might be this Friday (for all it’s worth), but Notre Dame is still on upset alert.
The Virginia Cavaliers, who are also a No. 5 seed, will be taking on the UNC Wilmington Seahawks in the first round. This contest has “clashing of styles” written all over it. After all, UNC Wilmington is 10th in the nation in points per game (85.2 points per game), and Virginia is allowing the least amount of points per contest in college basketball (55.6).
This March Madness 2017 clash should be interesting — to say the least.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Would you look at that. Yet another No. 5 seed that is on upset alert. Surely, not all of these No. 5 seeds are going to fall, but that doesn’t mean the No. 5 seeds aren’t on upset alert.
Minnesota will be going up against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, a team that pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the NCAA tournament just a season ago when they took down the Michigan State Spartans. To make a long story short, the Spartans were a No. 2 seed and the Blue Raiders were a No. 15 seed. Two words: March Madness.
In terms of this season, Middle Tennessee is 30-4, and it is also riding a 10-game winning streak into the dance. If the Blue Raiders can knock off a No. 2 seed as a 15-seed in the Big Dance — which they did — then they can surely knock off a No. 5 seed as a 12-seed. For what it’s worth, Middle Tennessee enters March Madness 2017 with a top-25 ranking.
The Purdue Boilermakers won the Big Ten regular season title, and they also have a top player in the country in Caleb Swanigan. The Boilermakers also earned a No. 4 seed in this year’s version of the Big Dance. With all of that said, Purdue should have an easy path to the, at the very least, second round of the tourney, right? Not so fast.
The Boilermakers will be going up against the hottest team in the country when they take on the Vermont Catamounts. The 13-seed Catamounts haven’t lost since December 21, and they have won 21 games in a row in the process.
Swanigan & Co. will be a handful, but Vermont is currently red-hot.
The Oregon Ducks will be playing without big man Chris Boucher, who was averaging 11.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game before going down with an injury. That alone changes the makeup of this team, and it could also lead to Oregon coming up rather short in the 2017 NCAA tournament. The third-seeded Ducks will be taking on the Iona Gaels in the round of 64.
The 14th-seeded Gaels might not have the longest winning streak in college hoops (they have only won three contests in a row), but they still managed to punch their ticket to the dance for the second year in a row.
Boucher is a major loss, and if the Ducks can’t overcome said major loss, they very well could be one of the biggest stories in the early rounds of the dance, and not for the right reasons.
[Featured Image by Rob Carr/Getty Images]