Anyone who says there is a lot of strategy that goes into picking a winning bracket is someone that once won their company bracket and hasn't done anything since. There is no strategy. The NCAA Tournament is full of a bunch of people winning games they seemingly have no business winning, and then full of a bunch of teams predictably beating teams they are supposed to.
Upsets are the reason why the first round of the NCAA Tournament is so much fun. Realistically, bracket wise, picking first round upsets doesn't do too much good in the latter rounds, but man -- early on it is a lot of bragging rights (what up Mercer over Duke).
So let's just get right down to it. What are some of the teams in the first round that are primed to do some damage?
No. 12 Buffalo Bulls over No. 5 West Virginia Mountaineers
Let's just put this one in here because you, by law, have to have a No 12 over a No. 5 if you are filling out a NCAA Tournament bracket. And what better team than the Buffalo Bulls? A lot of people forget that these are the same Buffalo Bulls who actually led Kentucky AT halftime AT Rupp Arena. We can ignore the fact that it was the second game of the season, and if those two teams met up there is no way it would be that close.
But on paper, it makes a bit more sense, solely based off the Bulls scoring potential. They have a solid balance in the backcourt with Shannon Evans and in the frontcourt with forwards Justin Moss and Xavier Ford. Normally, the Bulls are a bit undersized, but against West Virginia that isn't the case. Buffalo runs a Ken Pomeroy ranked top 50 offense, and West Virginia, although also good offensively, often struggles to score -- a lot. The Mountaineers rock a field goal percentage of just 41.2 percent, which is No. 283 in the nation. They make up for it by stealing the ball a ton and running. 25.2 percent of West Virginia's shot attempts come on transition.
The Bulls handle the ball quite well, however. And they get to the free throw line -- a lot. Bob Huggins runs a deep bench, and he will probably have to use it with as man fouls that will pop up in this game. The upset potential is there for the Bulls, and if not, it will be one of the more entertaining games of the first round.
No. 13 Eastern Washington Eagles over No. 4 Georgetown Hoyas
Because why the hell not. Let's give some love to our neighbors from Cheney. Will this one happen? Probably not. But Eastern Washington has the offensive prowess to scare the bejeesus out of any NCAA Tournament team. Tyler Harvey drops 22.9 points per game and Venky Jois (best name) chips in a mere 16.6 points per game. The Eagles scored the third-most points this season and are ne of the best three point shooting teams in the nation.
They don't get a lot of love because the defense is atrocious. But who cares? This is Georgetown we are talking about. Granted, they aren't the completely offensively inept Hoyas of recent years, but Eastern Washington is going to speed this game up. Those are the teams you want for upset picks, because no upset is guaranteed. But if a team has an offense to back up its potential, just make that plunge.
No. 11 BYU Cougars over No. 6 Xavier Musketeers
This is a dangerous upset pick, because first BYU has to make it to the point of even playing Xavier in the first place. But assuming that happens, pencil in the fellow WCC mates to make it to the second round because Xavier won't be able to stop the BYU offense. It pretty much is that simple.
We all know that BYU doesn't care about defense, so it is up to other teams to keep up offensively with the Cougars. It is a rare day when BYU doesn't have some sort of player who drops 25+ points in a game, and the Musketeers will fall victim to that. Xavier is pretty porous with its perimeter defense, and although they hold opponents to 34.9 percent from beyond the arc, they also allowed 693 attempts -- No. 319 in the nation. BYU freaking loves shots from beyond the arc. That and free throws. And two pointers. BYU loves offense, and they will have too much of it for Xavier to handle.