The bracket is set, and we’re almost off to the races. I actually enjoy this week more than the tournament weeks themselves. So much hype, so many choices to make, so many teams with misguided dreams of getting to the Final Four. With the exception of a few seeding surprises, the brackets look more or less as I anticipated. So let’s break down some potential upsets in round 1.
Florida State vs. Gonzaga: Seems like picking the 8 seed in these games is considered the upset, so I’ll count it as that and say Gonzaga will handle the Seminoles. Gonzaga outscores FSU by more than 9 ppg, while giving up 7 more. The Bulldogs have played consistently well throughout the year, and have won 9 of their last 11 games. FSU carries a shaky conference record and more question marks. Take Gonzaga.
Cornell over Temple: You heard it here. Gotta take one big plunge in the upset pool each year to get a leg up, and here’s mine. I fully understand Cornell’s schedule, but let’s just go on stats for a minute. They’re 27-4 and outscore Temple on average by 9 points per game. Temple gets it done with defense, but with emotions running high, I think both their defense and offense might be looking past Cornell a bit too prematurely. Cornell speaks by to much fist-pumping. The odds have a No. 12 taking down a No. 5 every year. You just gotta pick the right No. 12.
Missouri over Clemson: The Tigers, with all their inconsistency and inability to beat the top teams, have a pretty good fundamental ballclub at their core. Plus, they’re irritated with the loss to Nebraska in the Big 12 tournament, and looking to prove they’re better than the 22-10 record shows. Clemson is only 21-10 themselves, and Mizzou outscores them by 4 on average. I think the Tigers will get to the second round and then quickly exit the tournament, but Clemson is one and done this year.