2013 NCAA Tournament: Five Potential Round of 64 Upsets for Thursday

By Jesse Kramer

The First Four has been really fun since it began in 2011 and in my opinion has become must-watch TV, but the real Madness will begin on Thursday afternoon. Here are five games that I think have the best chance to result in upsets. (I’m not saying these will be upsets, only that they have the most potential. I’ll be posting my actual picks on either Wednesday or Thursday morning.)

No. 11 Bucknell over No. 6 Butler

Out of all the double-digit seeds, Bucknell might have the best chance of reaching the second weekend of the tournament. Brad Stevens has proven that he can win games in the NCAA tournament, but this Butler team is different than the teams from 2010 and 2011.

Although Bucknell was probably over seeded as an 11, it is still a very good matchup for the Bison. Bucknell plays stifling defense, and it has the Patriot League Player of the Year in forward Mike Muscala, who is a major factor on both ends of the floor. The Bison also have two deadly shooters in Bryson Johnson and Cameron Ayers. Five Bison have NCAA tournament as a No. 14 seed in 2011. (Bucknell lost to eventual national champion Connecticut in its first game.)

No. 12 Oregon over No. 5 Oklahoma State

I still like Oklahoma State to win this game, but it has to be on upset alert simply because Oregon is much, much better than your average No. 12 seed. The Ducks’ average seed in the Bracket Matrix (which compiles the bracket projections from every Bracketologist out there) was between a No. 7 and a No. 8. So if this were an Elite Eight matchup between a No. 5 and a No. 7, it wouldn’t be such a big upset if Oregon won. But on Thursday it would count as an upset simply because of the way the seeding worked out.

Oregon has struggled ever since Dominic Artis’ injury, and even since Artis returned the team has not played particularly well. (Artis also has been struggling since returning..) The Ducks will need the Artis from November/December/January on Thursday to beat a tough, athletic, defensive Oklahoma State team.


No. 13 South Dakota State over No. 4 Michigan

South Dakota State was in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history last season as a No. 14 seed, and the Jackrabbits lost a close game to Baylor. Now, they are back, and Nate Wolters, who already means everything to this program, could lead them to their first-ever NCAA tournament victory.

In some ways, South Dakota State makes me think of a mid-major version of Michigan. The Jackrabbits have a fantastic point guard in Nate Wolters, paralleling Big Ten Player of the Year Trey Burke. Chad White plays a similar role to Nik Stauskas as a deadly three-point shooter, and Brayden Carlson, when on his game, can be like Tim Hardaway Jr. with his versatility as a scorer and back-up distributor.

Although there are similarities, Michigan is much more talented and athletic, which is why South Dakota State is still a heavy underdog. The Jackrabbits will need a big game from Wolters and strong support from Carlson and junior forward Jordan Dykstra if they are going to earn a second game this weekend.


No. 11 Belmont over No. 6 Arizona

You’re far too trustworthy if you still think Arizona can make a run in this year’s NCAA tournament. In all likelihood, the Wildcats will be out by the second round to New Mexico, so picking Belmont wouldn’t such a bad risk to take. In fact, it might not be a risk at all.

Belmont has the Co-OVC Player of the Year in senior Ian Clark, an explosive scorer who drains three-pointers at a 46.3% clip. Fellow senior Kerron Johnson fills out the Bruins’ veteran backcourt.

As a team, Belmont shoots better than 37% from beyond the arc, and Arizona ranks No. 274 in the nation in three-point percentage defense. Unless the Bruins have a bad shooting day, they are poised for a second round upset.


No. 13 Montana over No. 4 Syracuse

Syracuse looked like it was turning its season back around with three wins in the Big East tournament, but then the Orange fell on their faces in the second half of the Big East championship against Louisville. The Orange deserve to be favored because of the recent Big East tournament run, but don’t forget that they lost four of their last five games in the regular season and seven of their final 12.

Montana’s duo of Kareem Jamar and Will Cherry appeared in the NCAA tournament last season but were embarrassed by Wisconsin, 73-49. They’ll have something to prove on Thursday, and both are capable of having huge games to lead the Grizzlies to an upset.

And when Syracuse was a No. 4 seed in 2005, it lost to No. 13 seed Vermont. Vermontana, anyone?

Author: Jesse Kramer

Jesse Kramer is the founder of The Catch and Shoot. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He has had work featured on SI.com, College Insider, The Comeback/Awful Announcing, and 247Sports.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: