If fans have learned anything over the years in the NCAA tournament, it should be this: Nothing is certain, except for a No. 1 seed knocking off a No. 16 seed. This tournament has seen some of the most improbable upsets in the history of sports, which is why it has been deemed March Madness.
In terms of March Madness 2017, the bracket is wide open. Other than a No. 1 seed going down in the first round, anything appears to be possible. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three big-name teams that could fall in the first round of the 2017 NCAA tournament.
If these three big-name schools do, in fact, go down, then brackets — as usual — will likely take a hit.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are coming off of an appearance in the ACC championship game, they earned a No. 5 seed in the Big Dance, and they will surely be the favorite when they take on the Princeton Tigers in the first round.
Do you believe in miracles? You should. This is March Madness we are talking about, after all.
Princeton might not play in a conference like the ACC (it plays in the Ivy League, to be exact), but it is one of the hottest teams entering the dance. Look no further than a 19-game winning streak to figure that one out.
While the Tigers, once again, do not play in a conference like the ACC, which means they face easier competition than a team like Notre Dame during conference play (or that is at least the idea), they were rather stingy on the defensive side of the ball in 2016-17. Princeton only gave up 61.6 points per game, which was the 10th-best mark in college hoops.
The Tigers also have the below tweets going for them.
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
This upset might not be likely, but it is certainly possible.
The Wisconsin Badgers aren’t as dominant as they have been in recent years (they only earned a No. 8 seed in this year’s version of the dance), but they still have talents like Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, and Ethan Happ rocking Wisconsin uniforms this year.
As a result of being a No. 8 seed, Wisconsin will be going up against a No. 9 seed in the Virginia Tech Hokies. While a No. 8 vs. 9 matchup might as well be solved with a coin flip, a No. 9 seed knocking off a No. 8 seed is technically considered an upset, and Wisconsin is also considered, at the very least, a big-name school in college basketball.
Unfortunately for the Badgers, they are coming off of a loss, and they also lost six out of their last 10 games.
As for Virginia Tech, it is also coming off of a loss, and it has lost two of three. The Hokies do, however, have Buzz Williams on the sidelines, and the coach has Virginia Tech headed on a rather promising path, one that consists of many NCAA tournament appearances.
Thanks to the Michigan Wolverines’ improbable run in the Big Ten tournament, which ended with a championship, and wins over the Purdue Boilermakers and Wisconsin, Michigan is now a dark horse to make a run during March Madness 2017. Thanks to the Wolverines playing in their practice uniforms as a result of a scary day at the airport, they are hard to root against, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they will still be going up against a solid team in the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans is one of the most lethal scorers in the tournament, and he is putting up 19 points per game to prove it. Evans is also averaging 6.2 assists per contest, which is why fans, and especially Michigan, need to watch out for this Cowboy.
When it comes to putting the ball in the team, he is certainly not alone, as Oklahoma State is averaging 85.5 points per game, which is one of the best marks in college basketball. Add in players like Jeffrey Carroll and Phil Forte III, who are both lethal from behind the arc, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Michigan going down in Round 1.
[Featured Image by Al Bello/Getty Images]