Giant Killers: Midwest upset picks

Memphis, Oklahoma State among teams that should be worried

Updated: March 20, 2013, 8:26 AM ET
By Peter Keating and Jordan Brenner | ESPN Insider

UPSET ODDS BY REGION

West | Midwest | South | East

Last night, we fired up the Giant Killers model to pump out the 10 most likely upsets in the opening round. But now it's time to go deeper. Much deeper.

For each of the four regions, we'll break down the six games with Giant Killers implications (reminder: A Giant Killer is a team that beats an opponent seeded at least five spots better; check out our full methodology for more details).

We have also sorted the games into four categories -- Best Bets, Worth a Long Look, Not Completely Crazy and Stay Away. It's important to remember that we're dealing with probabilities here. No upset is a given -- if it were, it wouldn't be an upset in the first place. And even a game with a 10 percent chance of going in favor of the underdog means that one out of every 10 times, the underdog should win.

Instead, we can give you the likelihood of an upset, based on rigorous statistical analysis that merges a team's base power rating with our GK "Secret Sauce" -- the statistical similarity between potential Giant Killers and historical Davids, as well as Giants and their predecessors who were slain. By coming up with a rating for every team, we are then able to compute an upset percentage for each matchup.

What you choose to do with that information is up to you, and should probably depend on how many points you receive for picking an upset in your pool. But keep checking back with us as we hit the Midwest and West Monday, the East and South on Tuesday and look ahead to future rounds on Wednesday.

Midwest Region

The Midwest Region is stacked. You've read about it, listened to talking heads scream about it and maybe even tweeted about it. And it's true. As we mentioned last night, seven of the top 19 teams in the BPI somehow landed in this region.

But even with so many talented squads at the top, upset opportunities abound, starting with our model's second-likeliest pick for the opening round.

BEST BET

No. 6 Memphis Tigers (59.4 Vulnerability Rating on a 100-point scale) vs. No. 11 Saint Mary's Gaels (51.1 Giant Killer Rating on a 100-point scale)

Upset chance: 67.5 percent

There's something about Saint Mary's. The Gaels may not have shown it in three losses to Gonzaga, but they carry all sorts of traits that are historical markers of Giant Killers (to say nothing of guard Matthew Dellavedova, who actually is a historical Giant Killer).


To see the most likely upset picks in the Midwest region and get access to all of Insider's NCAA tournament tips and tools, sign up today.

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.

Jordan Brenner | email

ESPN The Magazine contributing writer
Brenner writes for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN Insider. He covers the NBA and college basketball.