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March Madness: Three Teams Who Should Be On Upset Alert

ByBryan Armetta

Published on Thu Mar 17 2022

|

3 min read

March Madness: Three Teams Who Should Be On Upset Alert

March is a time of hope across college basketball. Between conference tournament bid-stealers and NCAA Tournament Cinderellas, this is the month when underdogs rule. However, the chaos we sports fans cherish comes at a price.

The dark side of March is for those teams that were expected to dominate. A potential juggernaut that waited all year to make some noise in the big dance, only to go home on the first weekend. Teams like top-seeded Illinois last year, who got bounced by a plucky Loyola Chicago squad in the Round of 32. Want more agony? Try Virginia in 2018; Tony Bennett's crew were the top overall seed heading into the tournament, and had their eyes set on Virginia's first national title. Instead, they made history for all the wrong reasons by becoming the first ever #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed in a shocking defeat to UMBC.

While an earth-shattering upset may not be in the cards this year (although it is certainly possible), this has been as unpredictable a college basketball season as any other in recent memory. With so many teams vying for a national championship, plenty of so-called 'contenders' may turn into paper tigers within a week. A bad matchup, a tough injury, or an untimely shooting slump is all that it takes to tank a season. Here are three high seeds that should be concerned about getting bounced early this March Madness.

Houston - 5 Seed, South Region

Few top-5 seeds have more questions than Houston. The Cougars have plowed through their AAC competition this year, culminating in a 71-53 rout of Memphis for the conference title. However, Kelvin Sampson's crew has had limited success elsewhere. Houston has an 0-4 record against Quadrant 1 opponents, including close losses to other top tournament teams like Wisconsin and Alabama. Even tight wins over mid-majors like Hofstra, Tulsa, and Wichita State could be seen as cause for concern, as well as the Cougars' abysmal 66

team free-throw percentage. Need more reasons to avoid Houston? Their first matchup of the bracket is against #12 UAB, an underdog more than capable of a Sweet 16 run.

Providence - 4 Seed, Midwest Region

The Providence Friars are the ultimate enigma. A 25-5 record, Big East regular season championship, and roster filled with senior leadership points to this being a contender. Take a deeper dive at the numbers, and it's clear that looks can be deceiving. Providence has been widely derided for being the luckiest team in America, according to KenPom. On top of their good fortune, the Friars don't really excel at anything; both their 97th ranked offensive rating and 155th defensive rating are unexceptional. No national champion has had such poor offensive and defensive ratings since those statistics were first tracked in 2010. While Ed Cooley's team is one of the feel-good stories of the season, winning a title may prove to be an unrealistic goal for a very good, but flawed, group.

Wisconsin - 3 Seed, Midwest Region

There's a lot to like about Wisconsin. The Badgers play in the tough Big 10, can win against top-tier opponents (9-3 in Quad. 1 games), and have one of the nation's best players in Johnny Davis. However, the Badgers have been playing some of their worst basketball of late, during a time where building momentum is essential. A loss to unranked Michigan State in their first game of the Big 10 Tournament was preceded by a humiliating defeat at home to 11-21 Nebraska, who also happened to be missing Bryce McGowens, their best player, to injury. Much like Providence, Wisconsin also benefitted from some luck, ranking 9th in that category. To top it all off, the Badgers have seen Davis struggle as of late, scoring a combined 21 points in the losses to Michigan State and Nebraska. If Wisconsin's star scorer goes cold in the postseason, it's fair to wonder if a good-not-great supporting cast can pick up the slack on offense.

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