Upset victories make the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament one of the must-watch sports events every year.
Who can forget Bryce Drew’s incredible shot to lift No. 13 Valparaiso over No. 4 Ole Miss in 1998 or that Kansas was bounced from the first round in 2005 (No. 14 Bucknell) and 2006 (No. 13 Bradley)? Just last year, two No. 15 seeds advanced when Lehigh and Norfolk State stunned Duke and Missouri, respectively.
One of these days, a No. 16 seed will finally break through and shock the world by beating a No. 1. It could even be this year — and if it is, amNewYork has identified who is the most likely to pull it off, along with favorites among the other lower seeds to score upsets.
No. 9 vs. No. 8
All-time record: 66-70 (48.5%)
amNY pick: Wichita State over Pittsburgh
The Shockers aren’t going to surprise anyone. Battle-tested by the underrated Missouri Valley Conference, they also hold a non-conference victory over VCU. No one ever calls a No. 9 seed beating a No. 8 and upset, and this would be no different if Cleanthony Early and Wichita State advance.
No. 10 vs. No. 7
All-time record: 55-81 (40.4%)
amNY pick: Oklahoma over San Diego State
Like the previous matchup, the 7-10 game often features teams of similar status. As it stands, the Romero Osby and the Sooners figure to be a smart choice even though they lost their last two games. A win over Kansas shows they can hang teams tougher than the Aztecs, and they’ll prove it.
No. 11 vs. No. 6
All-time record: 44-88 (33.3%)
amNY pick: Bucknell over Butler
The 6-11 matchups begin to cross into true upset territory, but truth be told many of this year’s No. 11 seeds have a strong chance to reach the next round. Chief among them are the Bison, led by big man Mike Muscala. He’s got a great chance to become the next mid-major NCAA Tournament star.
No. 12 vs. No. 5
All-time record: 41-91 (31.1%)
amNY pick: Oregon over Oklahoma State
The Pac-12 champion Ducks are the lowest-seeded tournament team in the final AP Top 25 poll by a wide margin, just eight spots behind the 18th-ranked Cowboys. There’s no mistaking this team as a real threat to reach the Sweet Sixteen.
No. 13 vs. No. 4
All-time record: 24-88 (21.4%)
amNY pick: South Dakota State over Michigan
Thirteen seeds have scored upsets in 30% of games during the past five years. The Jackrabbits’ victory against then 16th-ranked New Mexico shows they have no fear of teams in the national spotlight. Michigan has the better pro prospects, but such teams have been felled before.
No. 14 vs. No. 3
All-time record: 16-96 (14.3%)
amNY pick: Harvard over New Mexico
Just three No. 14 seeds have scored victories since the turn of the millennium, but if any team is going to join them it's the Crimson. Harvard reached the tournament as a 12 seed last year and is full of shooters. That combination of experience and scoring ability could doom the Lobos.
No. 15 vs. No. 2
All-time record: 6-106 (5.4%)
amNY pick: Iona over Ohio State
Sure, No. 15 seeds went 2-2 against No. 2 seeds last year. They also went 4-104 before that. It’s a low-percentage play, but the Gaels are the best-equipped to follow in the footsteps of Lehigh and Norfolk State. The nation’s second-highest scoring team could get hot and stun the Buckeyes. Maybe.
No. 16 vs. No. 1
All-time record: 0-112 (0%)
amNY pick: Southern over Gonzaga
Nobody is insinuating 2013 is the year a No. 1 finally falls to a lowly No. 16. But if you’re life depends on picking the right team to pull off the deed, take the Jaguars, who are 22-4 since Dec. 1. If this unlikely scenario occurs, Malcolm Miller (15.8 ppg, .460 3PT%) will likely be the one to thank.