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September 29, 2023

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NCAA tourney could host major upsets

Every March, there’s always a couple unbelievable upsets in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

This year will be no exception — but who will be the 2013 Cinderella teams?

This past year the best upsets came from No. 15 seed Norfolk State beating No. 2 seed Missouri, No. 15 seed Lehigh beating No. 2 seed Duke, No. 12 Virginia Commonwealth beating No. 5 seed Wichita State and No. 13 seed Ohio, who made it to the Sweet Sixteen after beating No. 4 seed Michigan and No. 12 seed South Florida.

This year there are many prime candidates to potentially shake up the tournament come March.

The Mountain West Conference is the home to six potential bracket-busting teams; No. 19 New Mexico, No. 15 San Diego State, Boise State, Wyoming, UNLV and Colorado State.

All of these teams have at least 13 wins and a maximum of three losses. Along with their records, they have amounted to five victories against ranked opponents.

However, the Mountain West teams failed to make an impact in the 2012 edition of the tournament, and only one of the four teams made it past the round of 64.

Another conference that could surprise the country is the Missouri Valley Conference. No. 12 Creighton has only lost one game all season, and it was to Boise State. The Blue Jays have won impressive games against Wisconsin and California.

Wichita State has been ranked twice but has been knocked out each time they broke into the top 25. The Shockers have only lost two games but none of the teams they have played were top 25 and only two of the teams were in the tournament in 2012. They still have to play No. 12 Creighton twice in conference play.

Indiana State is the third team from the Missouri Valley Conference that could potentially wreak havoc in the tournament this year and the Sycamores have a history of busting the bracket. In 1979, Larry Bird led the Sycamores to the National Championship game, but lost to Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans. Indiana State hasn’t had great success against top-25 teams but it played strong to beat Miami (FL) and Mississippi in a tournament in Hawaii during winter break.

There are a few teams in the country that could be vulnerable to being upset in the tournament.

North Carolina, Connecticut and Kentucky have had seasons that have been worse than expected. Both have fallen out of the top-25 this season and have not been able to reach it again. Duke and Kansas are the only NCAA champions from the past five years that are ranked.

UCLA is one of the teams that should be on high alert come March. Their inconsistent play and controversies off the court have caused some issues, but the Bruins are finally starting to get back on track for the start of conference play. They lost to Georgetown, Cal Poly and then ranked No. 23 San Diego State.

Though the season is still young and it is hard to predict who will ultimately earn a trip to the big dance, the tournament always has surprises in the first and second rounds. That’s what makes the NCAA Tournament one of the most coveted postseason tournaments in the sports world.

March Madness will start either March 19 or 20 with the First Four in Dayton. The National Championship game will be hosted April 8 in Atlanta.

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