March Madness: Upsets to watch
If you love college basketball, it might as well be the sport version of Christmas on Thursday. Yes, the First Four are being played out on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, with Florida Gulf Coast and Wichita State already moving into the field of 64, but the Madness really does not begin until Thursday afternoon.
As always, there are Cinderella stories and major upsets looming in the coming days. There will be some crazy moments and some unforgettable shots that gets put up on YouTube for future generations to see. Knowing that it is going to happen is the easy part. It’s identifying the games to watch that is the hard part.
Here are three games to watch on Thursday and Friday that could give us the big upset:
SF Austin over West Virginia
The Mountaineers are the No. 3 seed in the East Region, but they could be in for a fight against the No. 14 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. SF Austin is almost an annual participant in the tournament, losing just one conference game over the last three seasons combined.
Meanwhile, the Mountaineers go through stretches where they struggle to score. Head coach Bob Huggins is certainly an asset on the bench, but Huggins knows that March is all about being able to hit timely shots. SF Austin is a better offensive team and if West Virginia looks bad from the outside, it could be a poor outcome for the favorites.
Iona over Iowa State
Both of these teams can score in bunches. Iowa State comes into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed and for good reason, showing well in the Big 12. However, Iona was 16-4 in conference play and knocked off Monmouth to win its conference title, a team many believed should have been getting an at-large bid out of the MAAC.
Iona has not faced a Top 25 team this season, but that might not be a great indication of how this game will play out. The Cyclones have seen Top 25 competition 10 times, with only two wins.
Gonzaga over Seton Hall
This is one of the best games of the first two days. The Bulldogs are in the tournament for the 18th consecutive season while Seton Hall is in for the first time in over a decade. The Pirates are a quality team, earning a No. 6 seed while Gonzaga had to win the West Coast Conference title just to make it into the Big Dance.
All that said, the Bulldogs are rolling and have size with Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis averaging more than 37 combined points per game. Seton Hall must fight to even on the glass and continue its hot shooting, which help it strike upsets over the Xavier Musketeers and Villanova Wildcats in the Big East Tournament.