It’s the best time of the year, and lucky for you, you’ve stumbled upon one of the best sources NCAA Basketball information for 2018 March Madness. With a consistent appearance in the Massey Ratings’ Top 5, AMSTS’ computer metrics are second-to-none1. Anyway, you’re here for bracket advice. So let’s go with a rundown of teams most likely to upset and those most likely to be upset. The bad news? It’s unlikely we’ll see the first 16 seed upset of a 1 this season, because the top of the league feels a lot better than last year, and the bottom teams are pretty wretched. For this exercise, we’ll just look at team talent, while early next week we’ll have a look at the matchups.
The guys who won’t do it
The 16 seeds – Sorry guys, I just don’t think we’ll see another UMBC this year. Besides the fact that every single coach of a one seed has ensured that their team is focused on their 16 seed opponent, none of them are particularly great.
- Fairleigh-Dickinson – 207 in the AMSTS Computer Rankings, and a predicted 31 point underdog against Gonzaga according to the points rating.
- North Dakota State – 193 in the AMSTS Computer Rankings, but a 30 point underdog to Duke
- North Carolina Central – A brutal 284 in the AMSTS Computer Rankings, and a 33 point underdog to Duke
- Iona – 218 in the AMSTS Computer Rankings, a 27 point ‘dog to UNC
- Gardner-Webb – OK so if it happens, this feels like it is the best team. 157th in the AMSTS Computer Rankings and only a 25 underdog. But surely, Virginia isn’t going to lose in back to back years, right?
Bradley – At 156th, they’re barely better than Gardner-Webb, but they don’t stand much of a chance against Michigan State, the best 2 seed in the bracket. And after the way they treated the local beat reporter, who had covered the team for 29 years, they won’t have many outside of Peoria rooting for them.
The guys who might do it
UC-Irvine – The Anteaters are in the middle of a 16 game winning streak, so they’re familiar with how to win. The only question becomes whether they can pull off the upset against Kansas State. The AMSTS model gives them a 24% chance, and a real possibility they will play the next team on our list in the second round.
The guys who really could do it
Oregon – It feels weird that the tournament winner of a Power Five conference could be a “dark horse” but the Ducks are a 12 seed and sit 55th in the AMSTS Computer Rankings. The model predicts that they have a 45% chance of pulling the upset against the Badgers, and beyond that there is plenty of room to make a move with a weak Kansas State down a player.
Saint Mary’s – They got national attention by upsetting one of the best teams in the nation in Gonzaga, and there’s no reason that same team couldn’t make a little run in what could be the most chaotic part of the bracket. A first round matchup against Villanova that they have a 43% chance of upset, then a hot-or-cold Purdue matchup could really open the door for the Gaels.
The guys who WILL do it
Murray State – Ranked 50th in the AMSTS rankings and also projected in the 12 spot, the Racers could be a problem for a team that doesn’t match up well (like Marquette), given that they have one of the best players in the country. Coupled with taking a 11 game winning streak into the tournament, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
The guys who will CHOKE
I mean, it wouldn’t be All My Sports Teams Suck without teams that suck, right?
Rather than identify a bunch of teams on the bubble, I’ll go by each seed line as projected by Jerry Palm as of Thursday night.
1 seed: Virginia (1) – They’re 1 overall, but with a tougher 8/9 matchup than some of their counterparts, and a potential nightmare matchup (for fans who like offense) in Wisconsin, the Cavs are the 1 seed to watch…again.
2 seed: Tennessee (5) – Once again they’re technically the strongest of their seed according to the computers, but with the least experience on the high seed line, it’s always a bit shaky for teams thrust into the spotlight like the Volunteers have.
3 seed: Houston (8)… or LSU (12)- Man, for totally different reasons. Houston has a hot Iowa State on their plate in the second round, while LSU has plenty of distractions amidst the latest scandals affecting the program. On top of that, the Tigers would face the Maryland/Belmont winner, who will be no slouch.
4 seed: Kansas State (21) – Overseeded, the Wildcats face a potentially tricky Anteater squad featured above, then the winner of Wisconsin/Oregon.
5 seed: Marquette (26) – As mentioned above, playing against one of the best players in the tournament with a second round matchup against a very good Florida State squad. A tough road.
6 seed: Villanova (25)- The defending national champs have done okay lately, but have had a bumpy road to get to this point. Will they remain consistent, or will we see the Wildcats of December?
7 seed: Louisville (28) – Richard Pitino of Minnesota with a well-placed phone call to his father, currently involved in a lawsuit against the Louisville Cardinals, need I say more?
The bubble teams: I would certainly not bet on Arizona State, St. John’s, or Seton Hall if I were you.
But hey, part of the magic of March is the teams you don’t think will win end up surprising you. Hopefully now that you’ve read this, there will be fewer surprises in store for you. Good luck.