In a little under an hour, the NCAA tournament will kick off, starting three weeks of beauty and insanity that will culminate in the crowning of Kentucky. But, until the powers that be call the tournament off during the third round and freeze KY coach John Calipari in a block of ice and shoot him into space, there is still a chance of upsets, which means actual excitement.
In that spirit, here are our picks for the biggest first-round upsets.
(12)Buffalo over (5)West Virginia
This is the first time the Buffalo Bulls have made the NCAA tournament, but don’t count them out because of their inexperience. The Bulls led the unstoppable force that is Kentucky for a half (before getting trounced in the second), and their star player, Justin Moss, could be playing for a team in a major conference, if a heart ailment hadn't scared them away. They also have cool uniforms. West Virginia plays a suffocating full-court press, but Buffalo is definitely quick enough to beat it.
(13)UC Irvine over (4)Louisville
UC Irvine is the land of giants. Featuring Mamadou N'diaye, a 7'6” center from Senegal, and 7'2” Ioannis Dimakopalous from Greece, the Anteaters (yes, anteaters), are an absolutely huge team. Louisville has a ton of trouble sinking the three, and Irvine is just too big up the middle. Talent-wise Louisville is far superior to Irvine; the match-up is just not very good for them. Ever hear an anteater roar? It’s terrifying!
(13) Valparaiso over (4)Maryland
Valparaiso is incredibly hard to score against. Problem is, The Crusaders have a pretty tough time scoring themselves. But the Terps are vulnerable, especially to the stifling defense that Valpo is going to throw at them. Of all the upset picks, this one is the most likely.
(14)Albany over (3) Oklahoma
The Great Danes really don’t have a shot to pull this off, but coming off an emotional win over Stony Brook this past week, they just might be amped up enough to bring the Sooners down. The Sooners have an outstanding defense that outclasses the talent collected on the Danes, but if history teaches us anything, there will be one completely inexplicable upset out of the bunch.
(12)Wofford over (5)Arkansas
Wofford?? Wofford, a South Carolina liberal arts college with an undergraduate population of 1584 is an unlikely opponent for Arkansas. So unlikely, in fact, that they haven’t even done any scouting on their opponent. This will work in Wofford’s favor. Featuring serious experience against major-conference opponents, the Terriers came close to beating Wisconsin in 2010. They’re not scared of a bigger opponent. But will their fearlessness lead them to victory? We say yes!
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