The top 10 bets for NCAA tourney upsets 

March, 10, 2011
03/10/11
9:48
AM ET

Without any further ado, here are the top 10 potential Giant Killers, based on our statistical model's ratings. Some already have tickets to the Big Dance, while others are still working their way through conference championships. In the latter cases, you'll know whom to root for over the next few days if you like watching NCAA tournament upsets.

Please note that these teams' actual chances for beating Giants will depend greatly (in fact, we'd say by about 50 percent) on their opponents. We'll get to head-to-head odds once we get tournament seedings. Also, we're going into more detail here with these teams than we're going to go into with the Giants. You probably know quite a bit about the BYU Cougars and North Carolina Tar Heels already. Here's your chance to begin delving into lesser-known assassins. Happy hunting!

1. Belmont Bruins (57.8 percent chance of pulling an upset)

We're trying to think of a calm, subtle, non-panic-inducing way to put this: If they get anything that even resembles a favorable first-round matchup, go bet the ranch on the Bruins. Most Giant Killers generate extra possessions by either crashing the boards inside or engaging in pesky, risky guard play on the outside, but very few have the personnel to do both. The Bruins do: they rank 13th in the NCAA in offensive rebounding (ORs on 37.9 percent of misses) and second in generating turnovers (a whopping 27.6 percent of opponent possessions). Add in the fact they can shoot from anywhere (52.4 percent on 2-point FGs, 38.1 percent on 3s), and Belmont has the third-highest GK score of any team since our data sample started in 2004.

It's true that most Giants won't lose sleep over having to face the champion of the Atlantic Sun Conference. But it's also true that Belmont scores a hefty 35.2 percent of its points from behind the arc, while its opponents are unusually reliant on free throws (25.3 percent of scoring, 22nd in the NCAA). That's a recipe for the kind of scoring pattern that lets underdogs catch better teams.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.
Tags:

Ohio State Buckeyes, Insider, Insider NCB, NCB, NCB, Kansas Jayhawks, Pittsburgh Panthers, Duke Blue Devils, North Carolina Tar Heels, Texas Longhorns, Brigham Young Cougars, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Purdue Boilermakers, San Diego State Aztecs, Florida Gators, Syracuse Orange, Wisconsin Badgers, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisville Cardinals, St. John's Red Storm, Connecticut Huskies, West Virginia Mountaineers, Georgetown Hoyas, Arizona Wildcats, Vanderbilt Commodores, Xavier Musketeers, Kansas State Wildcats, Texas A&M Aggies, Cincinnati Bearcats, Villanova Wildcats, Temple Owls, UCLA Bruins, UNLV Rebels, Missouri Tigers, Utah State Aggies, George Mason Patriots, Florida State Seminoles, Old Dominion Monarchs, Illinois Fighting Illini, Gonzaga Bulldogs, Washington Huskies, Tennessee Volunteers, Marquette Golden Eagles, St. Mary's (CA) Gaels, Saint Mary's Gaels, Butler Bulldogs, Richmond Spiders, Michigan Wolverines, Clemson Tigers, UAB Blazers, Michigan State Spartans, Boston College Eagles, Virginia Tech Hokies, Colorado Buffaloes, Belmont Bruins, Oakland Golden Grizzlies, Harvard Crimson, Bucknell Bison, LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds, Long Island Blackbirds, Wofford Terriers, Morehead State Eagles, Kent State Golden Flashes, Indiana State Sycamores, Milwaukee Panthers, Morehead State Eagles, North Texas Eagles, Boston University Terriers, St. Peter's Peacocks, Northern Colorado Bears, Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, Texas Southern Tigers, McNeese State Cowboys, North Carolina-Asheville Bulldogs, Missouri State Bears, USC Trojans, Georgia Bulldogs, Alabama Crimson Tide, Memphis Tigers, Washington State Cougars

SPONSORED HEADLINES