Category archive: UNLV Rebels
Although we have expanded our definition of Giant Killers to include teams from power conferences, we have to admit, our hearts have always been with high-quality little guys. And for the past 10 days, we agonized as one potential Giant Killer after another went down in the post-regular-season twilight, while measurably weaker teams locked up auto-bid after auto-bid.
But on Sunday, the NCAA Selection Committee heeded our long-standing call to grant mid-majors tickets to the big dance and seeded its field with the likes of Middle Tennessee, Boise State and Saint Mary's. So we've still more of them to evaluate -- including a bunch who are live underdogs.
As backers of advanced metrics, however, we need to point out the committee continues to defy logic in the area of measuring teams' fundamental strength. Look, to the committee, and to those of you who write to tell us that margin of victory doesn't matter: Team A is better than Team B to the extent Team A can outscore Team B. That's pretty basic. And it means that as their number of possessions grows, Team A will reveal its superior quality by outscoring Team B by more points. That's just math. And it means that margin of victory is one of the two most important pieces of information you can have about a team, along with the strength of its opponents. Yet RPI ignores margin of victory. The committee may as well be working with stone knives and bearskins.
So as you check out our list of top potential upsets, keep in mind that they can result from teams playing like successful Killers or vulnerable Giants, or simply from simple over- or under-seeding. You can find a staggering seven of the top 19 BPI teams in the Midwest Region, where Louisville, the No. 1 overall seed, somehow ended up with the No. 3 team (Duke) as its 2-seed, and where Duke in turn could have to play the No. 13 team (Creighton) in the Round of 32. Michigan State (No. 10) might meet Memphis (No. 18) in the Round of 32, too.
Those kinds of imbalances can keep safe Giants (such as Pittsburgh) even safer, or pit dangerous Killers (such as Valparaiso) against tough draws, or keep Davids (such as Iowa State, a No. 10 seed) from ever facing Goliaths at least five seeds higher.
But the wackiness also creates lots of juicy opportunities for upsets. We'll break down every region in depth over the next two days -- the Midwest and West Monday and the East and South on Tuesday. For now, here are the 10 most likely upsets on the board, according to our spreadsheets.
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