Giant Killers: West upset picks

Region holds 2012 tourney's best bet for an early upset

Updated: March 13, 2012, 6:31 PM ET
By Peter Keating and Jordan Brenner | ESPN Insider
Davidson WildcatsJeremy Brevard/US PresswirePast darling Davidson has been battle tested in 2011-12.

Upset picks in the South | East | West | Midwest

As we promised in the Giant Killers blog, on Monday we begin detailed breakdowns of all the first-round games with GK implications.

Now that we all have brackets in hand, it's time for a detailed look at how our Giant Killers statistical model sees NCAA tournament matchups. We'll go region by region, and, as we did in 2011, we will sort potential upsets into four categories: Best Bets, Worth a Long Look, Not Completely Crazy and Stay Away. These names should be pretty self-explanatory -- Best Bets have a decent chance to win outright and Stay Aways are likely to lose no matter what. But we can't tell you exactly how to fill out your brackets, because that depends on how heavily your particular pool rewards upsets. The more points you score when underdogs win, the more you should be willing to pick high-risk teams.

In case you've forgotten, a Giant Killer is a team that beats an opponent seeded at least five spots better and doesn't come from a BCS conference. Other teams -- Gonzaga, Butler, BYU, Temple and Xavier -- are excluded because of their historical success. (Check out our methodology for a full explanation.) Our model generates statistical ratings that compare potential Giant Killers to past Davids as well as all Giants to the Goliaths who were slain. Those ratings enable us to predict the chances of an upset in each matchup.

We now move on to the West, where we find our best bet for an early upset.


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.