Giant Killers: Round of 32 upsets

Could Indiana, Duke, Kansas or Louisville fall short of the Sweet 16?

Updated: March 20, 2013, 12:25 PM ET
By Jordan Brenner and Peter Keating | ESPN Insider


West | Midwest | South | East

You didn't think we'd leave you hanging, did you? Sure, opening-round upsets garner the most attention, and we've devoted plenty of time, numbers and words in the pursuit of this season's Cinderellas. But there's a healthy lineage of Giant Killers doing damage in the round of 32, especially those who weren't eligible in the first round.

Whoever emerges from the 7-10 and 8-9 matchups will take a shot against a top team (assuming all the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds advance). So let's look at those hypothetical round-of-32 clashes and see if there are more GKs lying in wait.


No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers versus No. 8 NC State Wolfpack or No. 9 Temple Owls
Upset chances: 9.2 percent versus NC State; 7.9 percent versus Temple

The Hoosiers are our model's safest Giant with a 95.5 rating, and neither the Wolfpack nor the Owls has the chops to challenge that standing. Indiana grabs tons of offensive boards (39.7 percent, sixth in the country), its Victor Oladipo-led defense forces gobs of steals and the Hoosiers scorch the nets from deep (41.1 percent). In other words, they play the high-variance game better than most Giant Killers.

NC State, by contrast, hardly ever shoot 3s (just 23.7 percent of attempts) and struggles to force steals, while the Owls are even less effective as a GK, particularly given their poor offensive rebounding. If you're looking for an 8/9 winner to advance to the Sweet 16, there are better options out there.

Jordan Brenner | email

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