It’s that time of year – March Madness! While everyone will be asking who you have going to the Final Four, the more popular question lies on which double-digit teams can play spoilers and pull off the upsets, destroying many brackets the first weekend. We break down our top five double-digit upsets below.
No. 12 VCU over No. 5 St. Mary’s
Every time the Rams book a ticket to the NCAA Tournament, I almost always back them. When it was revealed they will be taking on the St. Mary Gaels in the First Round, I immediately clicked on VCU to advance. This is a great matchup for VCU. While both teams feature elite defenses, VCU has the edge on offense with A-10 Player of the year Adrian “Ace” Baldwin. The Rams also enter the Tournament on a 9-game winning streak while the Gaels lost to the Gonzaga Bulldogs in two of their final three games. I’m all over VCU here.
No. 12 Charleston over No. 5 SDSU
This was the first upset I wrote down on Selection Sunday. While the Aztecs shined despite ranking 7th in SOS, they have not yet opposed a team as balanced as Charleston. The Cougars feature five players that average double-digit points and can score at will, averaging 80.8 points per game. They are riding a 10-game winning streak entering the tournament and are poised to pull off the infamous 12-over-5 upset. With only three losses all year, the Cougars are a potential Sweet Sixteen team.
No. 13 Louisiana over No. 4 Tennessee
A month ago after defeating Alabama at home, I penciled in the Volunteers as one of my potential Final Four teams. Since then, the Vols have spiraled in the opposite direction losing six of their last ten down the stretch. Losing point guard Zakai Ziegler to a season-ending ACL tear has hurt the Vols’ consistency. Still, they remain one of the best defensive units in the country.
However, the Ragin’ Cajuns are one of the most efficient shooting teams from the field. If they get hot and are able to expose the Vols’ inconsistency on offense, it will be hard for Tennessee to keep up. This is a risky pick, but I’m sticking with the squad that has been picking up momentum, not dropping it.
No. 11 Miss State/Pitt over No. 6 ISU
I’m taking Pittsburgh to win the play-in game against Mississippi State, but I like either of these teams to upset Iowa State. Since its introduction, just about every year we see a play-in 11-seed advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Pittsburgh is particularly appearing considering their experience. Their entire starting 5 is older than the Oklahoma City Thunder’s starters.
ISU has some nice wins against Kansas, Texas, Baylor (three times), and TCU, but faltered against lesser competition like WVU and Iowa. These No. 11 seeds seem to pick up momentum after the play-in game and opposing a Cyclones squad the struggled down the stretch seems like a prime opportunity.
No. 10 PSU over No. 7 Texas A&M
Before Selection Sunday, these two teams were two of my hottest sleepers. A&M turned on the gas down the stretch, with a 16-3 record while reaching the SEC Conference Final. A year after the Aggies got snubbed from the Tournament, they received another form of disrespect here. Finishing second in the SEC to Alabama, A&M was given a No. 7 seed, behind No. 4 Tennessee and No. 6 Kentucky. Now, the Aggies will have to take on one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation – the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Led by guard Jalen Pickett, PSU blew past its competition as a No. 10 seed in the Big Ten Tournament only to lose by a mere basket to Purdue in the Finals. This is a team that is ripe to pull off an upset. Yes, A&M guards particularly well from behind the arc, but Pickett is the type of player that can carry a double-digit seed over the top, similar to Stephen Curry in his Davidson years and Ja Morant at Murray State. PSU wins.