March Madness: Picking the Upsets for 2013 NCAA Tournament

The 2013 NCAA Tournament is upon us.  March Madness is here.  It’s time to fill out those brackets and impress your friends with your ability to correctly predict the inevitable upsets that occur in the first round of the tournament.

Need some help with those upset predictions?  We have one suggestion for each region.

Midwest Region

This is a tough bracket where upsets will be hard to come by, but if you’re willing to take a risk, it could pay off for you in a big way.

It’ll take a couple of big basketballs to predict it in a bracket, but Memphis could find itself getting upset by St. Mary’s.  First, St. Mary’s has to get past Middle Tennessee in the play-in to become the No. 11 seed in the Midwest, and then the Gaels will face Memphis as a No. 4 seed.

So why the faith in the Gaels?  Matthew Dellavedova.  If he’s hitting on all cylinders, he can carry St. Mary’s out of their play-in and give Memphis—who suffered a mild upset to St. Louis last year in the first round—a run for their money.

West Region

We’re tempted to go with La Salle beating Boise State in the play-in, garnering the No. 13 seed, and then upsetting No. 4 Kansas State, but predicting that and St. Mary’s doing the same thing is too rich for our blood.

No, we’re going with No. 11 Belmont taking down No. 6 Arizona.  The Bruins, led by Kerron Johnson and Ian Clark, can drain three-pointers and force turnovers like nobody’s business.  They’re No. 15 in the nation in scoring (77.2 points per game) and No. 4 in the country in field goal percentage (.494).  Belmont has the offensive firepower to overcome Arizona’s size advantage and the experience of five appearances in the past seven Big Dances to overcome the butterflies.

South Region

The trendy upset of this year’s tournament is No. 13 South Dakota State to knock off No. 4 Michigan, but the Wolverines only lost one game at home—a one-point heart-stopper to Indiana—and they’ll take on the Jackrabbits in Auburn Hills, Mich.  SDSU may make Michigan a little uncomfortable, but we like the Wolverines to prevail in a de facto home game.

Instead, we like No. 11 Minnesota to upset No. 6 UCLA.  The Bruins’ second-leading scorer, Jordan Adams, is lost to a broken foot suffered in the Pac-12 tourney.  The Gophers faded down the stretch but have the benefit of playing in the tough Big Ten, and they have wins against Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State under their belts.  They’re in a good position to take advantage of UCLA being a man down.

East Region

No. 6 Butler has staggered into the NCAA tournament, going 10-6 since beating Gonzaga in January.  The Bulldogs’ wins against Indiana and North Carolina are also impressive, but three losses to St. Louis and one each to La Salle, Charlotte and VCU are reasons for concern.

Meanwhile, No. 11 Bucknell steams into the tournament with a 12-1 record over their last 13 games and a Patriot League tourney trophy to go with it.  This will be the second year in a row for the Bison’s juniors and seniors in the Big Dance, and Mike Muscala is one of the best centers in the nation.  It wouldn’t surprise us to see Bucknell get past Butler and then upend Marquette—which is no lock against Davidson—in the second round.

Now you tell us:  who are your upset picks?