March Madness is here.
Brackets are set and ready to be busted as the 68-team field gets set for competition which begins on Tuesday with the First Four, then moves on to first-round play.
There will be down-to-the-wire finishes, Cinderella stories and crushing defeats. Which side will your bracket come out on?
Every year, many people’s brackets are busted after the first couple of games. So without further ado, here are four potential first-round upsets that could help your bracket stay alive longer than Day 1.
No. 11 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 6 Villanova
Hard to imagine picking against the defending champs so early in the tournament, especially given Villanova’s impressive run through the Big East Tournament, but the Wildcats drew a tough matchup to start. This should be a pretty popular upset pick because of Saint Mary’s colossal win over Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament, but there is plenty to like about the Gaels. Saint Mary’s squad can score a ton behind Jordan Ford, and are exceptional at defending the 3-pointer. That could mean trouble for Nova.
No. 13 Northeastern vs. No. 4 Kansas
The Jayhawks are an NCAA Tournament staple, but this has been a relative down year for Bill Self’s team, A potential Sweet 16 game on home turf in Kansas City could also catch Kansas looking too far ahead of itself. The Huskies? They’re riding a seven-game winning streak that ran through the Colonial Athletic Conference tournament. But even more impressively, Northeastern shoots a lights-out 56 percent on 2-pointers and is 14th in the country from beyond the arc, converting on 39 percent of their treys. If the Huskies get hot, the Jayhawks could be heading home.
No. 12 New Mexico State vs. No. 5 Auburn
Auburn’s run through the SEC tournament was nothing short of impressive, as the Tigers easily dispatched of Tennessee to take the conference crown. But, War Eagle takes on a scorching hot Aggies team that won 30 games this season, including their last 19 contests. New Mexico rebounds a ton (38.4 boards per game) and keeps teams off the scoreboard (64.1 points against per game, 26th in the country), two things that bode well for their upset chances.
No. 12 Murray State vs. No. 5 Marquette
An intriguing matchup that includes a pair of star players — Ja Morant from Murray State and Markus Howard from Marquette. Either player is capable of going for 40 points on any given night. For Morant, a projected top-three pick in the NBA draft, this will be his biggest exposure to the big stage since becoming a star prospect. If he’s up to the challenge, he can lead the Racers to the second round.
Thumbnail photo via Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports Images