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March Madness: Five upsets waiting to happen in the round of 64

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One of the fan favorite traditions that comes with March Madness basketball is filling out your bracket and submitting it to the annual office pool at work. One of the hardest parts of correctly picking teams is anticipating those upsets that we all know are going to happen. This year, in order to efficiently outsmart that guy from accounting who wins every year, you must expect the unexpected and pick some of those lower seeded teams to beat the favorite.

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March Madness: Five upsets waiting to happen in the round of 64
Former Cornell star and BasketballInsiders.com’s Cody Toppert joins CineSport’s Noah Coslov to identify the double-digit seeds who will win in the opening round and to make Final Four picks.

BYU over Xavier

Xavier has been a very average team all year in the Big East. They do have pretty solid wins against Georgetown and Butler, but the Musketeers have also lost 13 games this season, nine of them in conference play. This tells me that Xavier is beatable. Very beatable.

Especially by a team like BYU. The Cougars are driven by their star senior guard Tyler Haws. He is one of the main factors BYU was even in the conversation to make the tournament this season and has the ability to go off for 25-plus on any given night. He is averaging 21.9 points per game this season and even had a 30 point game against Santa Clara in the West Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals. He hit the go-ahead bucket with a pull up fade away jumper that was eerily similar to Michael Jordan’s shot in the 1989 NBA playoffs over Craig Ehlo as time expired.

What will fuel Tyler Haws and company even more at the offensive end is the absolutely atrocious defense Xavier is playing this year. They have allowed 67.6 points per game which is 204th in the NCAA. This is definitely something that BYU will have to capitalize on because Xavier has quite the scoring ability themselves averaging 73.6 points per game.

But on nights where they can’t find their rhythm on offense, Xavier struggles. And that has been shown in their losses to St. John’s and Long Beach State. Against St. John’s they managed to muster a measly 57 points, losing by one to their Big East rival. In perhaps their worst loss of the season, Xavier shot just 40.6% percent from the field and 12.5% from 3-point range against Long Beach State. Not the most encouraging stats for Xavier fans.

If I were making a pot of “upset-stew” these all seem like the right ingredients to me. A favored team that has bad losses in non-conference and conference play, a defense that an 8th grade basketball team could put up 40 points against, and a BYU offense that when hot, can really make you hurt. I wouldn’t be surprised if Xavier quit dancing a little earlier than expected due to a tough BYU squad.

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Harvard over UNC

When I analyze the North Carolina basketball program, I can’t help but notice those five national championships (tied for third most all-time), a team that just beat Virginia in the ACC tournament, and consistently has some of the best talent in college basketball. So why in God’s name would I choose such a prestigious program to fall to some school that is known for its academics over sports? Well, maybe I am just crazy. But on the other hand, North Carolina is not the Superman of the NCAA this year as they have been in years past. And even if they were, Harvard might be their Kryptonite in the round of 64.

First of all, North Carolina has so many bad losses on their schedule. Butler, Iowa, NC State, and Pittsburgh, just to name a few, all tell me that North Carolina is not ready to compete with the best teams in the NCAA this year. They have been inconsistent at best and even with their credible wins against Louisville and Virginia, I am still asking: “is UNC really that good?”

Even if UNC isn’t a favorite to win the national title, does Harvard have the firepower to take down a national power house? Of course North Carolina fans are probably looking to Harvard’s only game against a ranked team in the Virginia Cavaliers this season. While they did lose by a brutal 76-27 margin, the huge deficit was basically driven by the fact that Harvard didn’t have anybody sizable enough to guard 7-footer Mike Tobey. UNC doesn’t really have anyone that tall. Their biggest threat in the post is 6-foot-9 power forward, Bryce Johnson. A player who Harvard matches up with physically a little better with than they did with Virginia.

If they can contain Bryce Johnson, I really like Harvard’s chances. Their senior guard, Wesley Saunders has led the Crimson to a 22-7 record by averaging 16.3 points per game. If he can shoot the ball well from beyond the arc like he has all year, I wouldn’t be surprised if Coach Roy Williams had a little trouble with this underdog.

On top of all this, Ivy League schools love the upsets. They will have the entire conference rooting them on at home as they take on their biggest challenge yet. Some of these guys on their roster have been to the tournament before and know what it is to upset a favorite team. So look for Harvard to take down a North Carolina in the round of 64.

(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

Dayton over Providence

Another Big East team getting upset? While the conference may have Villanova and Butler, two teams that have proven they can play with the best in the NCAA, the Big East is very overrated this year. But even if they are playing in an extremely overrated conference, Providence has earned the No. 4 spot in the conference with some impressive wins. Additionally, Providence has a huge height advantage over Dayton with the biggest guy on the roster being 7-foot-2 and the tallest guy on Dayton’s roster measuring just 6-foot-6 with high heels on. But Dayton is one of those teams that can just about make anything happen.

Despite having this huge height disadvantage, the Dayton guards are annoying little pests when it comes to perimeter defense. They do an excellent job of getting in the opposing team's face and causing them to feel uncomfortable for 40 minutes. Their defense has caused an impressive 7.0 steals per game for the Flyers and they only allow 60.9 points per game as a team.

This may affect Providence more than it would other teams as the Friars have had some turnover issues this year. Their top two players, LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn, are averaging 6.1 turnovers a game. A portion of Providence’s game that won’t be as easily disguised with the pressure defense that Dayton will exhibit. I am predicting a lot of steals that lead to easy transition lay-ups for Dayton giving them an edge.

But all in all, it will be tough for the Flyers to make something happen like they did in last year’s tournament. After all, they are missing more than just height, as Jordan Sibert graduated. He was one of the main driving forces in the Flyer’s dramatic Elite 8 run. They have a steep slope to climb if they plan on doing the same this year. But anything is possible in March. And this might be another Cinderella seasons for the Dayton Flyers.

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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VCU, Northern Iowa, Butler, and Davidson have all had their Cinderella story before taking down some of those pesky established programs in the NCAA. Butler has been continually making a run at a National title since Brad Stevens started coaching, despite being a low seed every year. They have established themselves as a premiere program and are a #6 seed this year. So if they do make a run at a championship this year, it really wouldn't come as much of a surprise as their incredible upset to Syracuse in 2010 did.

But part of what makes an upset special is that it's a team that doesn't do it every year. This is part of what makes March Madness so great. Anything can happen, and has happened in years past no matter what seed you are.

While impossible to predict, certain key factors can give NCAA basketball fans a better insight as to which upsets are bound to happen next. In 2010 it was the Butler Bulldogs making it to the National title. Last year, it was Dayton making it to the Elite 8 after beating heavily favored Kansas in the round of 32. This year, there are five upsets that should be on everyone's radar when they fill out those brackets in the next couple of days.

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Sports Potw for 3/16
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March Madness: Five upsets waiting to happen in the round of 64
UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 10: Derick Brassard #16 of the New York Rangers falls to the ice as Jaroslav Halak #41 of the New York Islanders allows a third period goal on a shot by Rick Nash #61 of the New York Rangers (not shown) at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 10, 2015 in Uniondale, New York.The New York Rangers defeated New York Islanders 2-1. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 15: Serena Williams of USA in action against Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan during day seven of the BNP Paribas Open tennis at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 15, 2015 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 14: Hiroki Yokoyama of Japan (L) crashes during the Men's 1500m Semifinal on day two of the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships at the Krylatskoe Speed Skating Centre on March 14, 2015 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Harry Engels - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 11: Jaron Blossomgame #5 of the Clemson Tigers battles Kiel Turpin #11 of the Florida State Seminoles for a rebound during a second round game of the ACC basketball tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 11, 2015 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL - MARCH 11: Matt den Dekker #6 of the New York Mets is tagged out at home plate by Jarrod Saltalamacchia #39 of the Miami Marlins during a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium on March 11, 2015 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
North Carolina'ss Brice Johnson (11) gets a dunk over Boston College's Dimitri Batten (1) during the second half in the second round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. Johnson lead the Tar Heels with 17 points in their 81-63 victory. (Robert Willett//Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - MARCH 11: Rickard Rackell #67 of the Anaheim Ducks skates against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 11, 2015 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Brad Watson/NHLI via Getty Images)
KISSIMMEE, FL - MARCH 12: Ian Kinsler #3 of the Detroit Tigers dives for a ground ball during the fifth inning of a spring training game against the Houston Astros at Osceola County Stadium on March 12, 2015 in Kissimmee, Florida. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
ONTARIO, CA - MARCH 13: Andre Berto (R) lands a punch against Josesito Lopez during their 12 round welterweight bout at Citizens Business Bank Arena March 13, 2015 in Ontario, California. Berto won by knock out. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
KONTIOLAHTI, FINLAND - MARCH 15: (FRANCE OUT) Martin Fourcade of France competes during the IBU Biathlon World Championships Men's and Women's Mass Start on March 15, 2015 in Kontiolahti, Finland. (Photo by Vianney Thibaut/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13: ShawnDre' Jones #3 of the Richmond Spiders fights for the ball with Treveon Graham #21 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during a quarterfinal game in the 2015 Men's Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at the Barclays Center on March 13, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 14: Olivier Giroud of Arsenal celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and West Ham United at Emirates Stadium on March 14, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 14: Carlos Sainz of Spain and Scuderia Toro Rosso drives during final practice for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 14, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
SINSHEIM, GERMANY - MARCH 14: Eugen Polanski (L) of Hoffenheim scores his team's second goal during the Bundesliga match between 1899 Hoffenheim and Hamburger SV at Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena on March 14, 2015 in Sinsheim, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)
QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: Jordan Zunic of Australia tees off during day four of the New Zealand Open at The Hills Golf Club on March 15, 2015 in Queenstown, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Bayern Munich's defender Holger Badstuber celebrate after the UEFA Champions League second-leg, Round of 16 football match FC Bayern Munich vs Shakhtar Donetsk in Munich, southern Germany, on March 11, 2015. Bayern Munich won the match 7-0. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
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