Written By: Ben Brown – Staff Writing Intern (@TheBigShalom)
March Madness wouldn’t be madness without major early round upsets. No one can pick them, but we can speculate. I have selected 5 teams that are currently projected by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi to be in the tournament that I think could put a team on upset alert in March.
| Middle Tennessee State
Middle Tennessee State is currently projected as an 11 seed in the tournament. Last year they took down 2 seeded Michigan State in the first round. This year the Blue Raiders are led by JaCorey Williams. If the team can take their shooting percentage of 48.7% into the tournament, they can turn some heads and maybe pull off another first round upset.
| Illinois State
The Red Birds of Illinois State are on track to win the Missouri Valley Conference if they can get MiKyle McIntosh healthy. ISU is clearly a different team without him as shown in the last game against Wichita State. McIntosh bring the offense while the rest of the team brings the defense. They average 4.6 blocks a game while holding their opponents to 37.9 shooting percentage. A full strength ISU could really cause some problems for some teams in the tournament.
The Catamounts are currently projected to be a 12 seed in the tournament. It seems like the most upsets come from the 12 seeds every year. Vermont is currently on a 13 game winning streak, the school record is 15. Anthony Lamb is their best player who is averaging about 13 points a game. Giant killer? Maybe.
| UNC Wilmington
It seems like UNC always has a branch alongside Chapel Hill in the tournament. This year it appears that it is going to be UNC Wilmington. They are currently projected as a 12 seed. The team is led by two senior guards, Chris Flemmings and Denzel Ingram. Sophomore CJ Bryce is starting to really develop as a player and is now averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds a game. He also has a 78.8 shooting percentage which is the best in Division 1. This team is a lot to handle, especially in the tournament and could easily catch a team off guard.
| Boise State
Boise State is currently projected for a 14 seed which would make them the biggest long shot on my list. Coach Leon Rice lives to be the long shot. He uses motivation techniques most wouldn’t see outside of a football locker room, like eating matches and lighting the court on fire (safely). Coach Rice can get any team to play 110% which is sometimes all you need in March.