It wouldn't be March Madness without a few tournament upsets. To help keep your 2017 NCAA Tournamentbracket somewhat intact, Sporting News college basketball writer Mike DeCourcy offers up his picks for the upsets and sleeper teams to watch out for in each region. Bonus: Check out each region preview linked below for Final Four picks and star players to watch.
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NCAA bracket predictions
East Region:No. 12 UNC Wilmington over No. 5 Virginia. In addition to the very cool nickname of “Seahawks” – how many Wildcats do we need, people? – Wilmington has a terrific offense with four double-figure scorers led by guard C.J. Bryce and 3-point rifleman Denzel Ingram, who is top-20 in the nation in 3-pointers made. They’ve never seen anything like the Virginia defense, but they’re good enough to make this happen.
South Region:No. 13 Winthrop over No. 4 Butler. For the Bulldogs, this is the highest seed in program history; they used to be the team pulling these kinds of upsets. Butler has as many quality wins as just about anyone, but they’ve also been vulnerable to lesser teams such as Georgetown, St. John’s and Indiana State. The Eagles won’t like being called a lesser team, but they’ll probably appreciate the idea that someone out here thinks they can win.
Midwest Region: No. 11 Rhode Island over No. 6 Creighton. Here’s the Bluejays’ little secret: They are 7-8 since Maurice Watson suffered a knee injury in a January victory at Xavier. They essentially made Marquette (two losses) and Providence (one) into tournament teams because they were damaged and assured Xavier — also struggling with the loss of its point guard, Edmond Sumner — it wouldn’t lose the bid it was on course to claim. Four of the teams that beat Creighton since the injury scored 82 points or more.Rhodymay not be dynamic enough to punish that D, but the Rams are good enough to win.
West Region:No. 12 Princeton over No. 5 Notre Dame. This might turn out to be the dullest region.Vandycould beat Northwestern, but 9 seed over 8 seed isn’t an upset. And it’s doubtful the Tigers can take down Notre Dame. But the Irish aren’t physically overpowering and Princeton did win 16 consecutive Ivy League games — and Ivy League teams have won four of their last seven first-round games as bottom-quadrant seeds.
East Region: No. 11 Southern California. The Trojans’ home victory against UCLA was an impressive accomplishment, especially coming without forward Bennie Boatright, who has scored in double figures in 10 of 11 games since his return from injury. That was one of just three wins against the field, which is why the Trojans are in the First Four, but Boatright, center Chimezie Metu and guard Jordan McLaughlin are high-end talents.
South Region: No. 10 Wichita State.The Shockers have won a game in each of the past five NCAA Tournaments. They are 10-5 in tournament games in that span. They are dangerous enough to take out the Atlantic 10 champion (Dayton) and the SEC champion (Kentucky) and reach the Sweet 16 for thethird time in five years.
Midwest Region: No. 12 Nevada.The champion of the Mountain West Conference is extremely well coached by EricMusselmanand very capable of taking out Iowa State in the first round.
West Region: No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast."Dunk City's" game against Florida State is in Orlando, an easy drive for Eagles fans. If they can get a few bussed up, and if they can make some early shots, fans in the arena will adopt them and make things very uncomfortable for theSeminoles.