Let’s be honest: None of us have any idea as to which double-digit seed is going to put together a run here in March. But, it’s almost a guarantee that at least one will. Let’s wildly speculate as to who that might be!
5) Florida Gulf Coast (26-7) – 14th seed in the West
FGCU is back, and have all the same plans of dunking on everyone like they did back in 2013, with the addition of talented guard Brandon Goodwin. Florida State is a good team, don’t get me wrong, but here’s hoping Dunk City can channel the magic that got them to the Sweet Sixteen four years ago. They’re going to be a trendy pick because they’re a good story, but that’s what March is about, right?
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 6, 2017
4) Vermont (29-5) – 13th seed in the Midwest
A #13 seed has been kind to the Catamounts before, back in 2005 when Vermont took down #4 Syracuse in the opening round. In addition to that, Vermont’s 21-game winning streak is currently the longest in the nation and come in as the unbeaten champions of the America East Conference. Purdue is a conference champ in its own right, but also one that stumbled in it’s Big Ten tournament opener against a (extremely hot and destined) Michigan team that went on to win the whole thing. Twenty-two of the last 23 teams to go unbeaten in conference play have won at least one game in the NCAA tournament, and I like Vermont’s chances of doing the same.
3) Princeton (23-6) – 12th seed in the West
Princeton won the first-ever Ivy League tournament, and like Vermont, are coming into the Big Dance with a lengthy winning streak and an unblemished conference record. But also like the Catamounts, I really like the opponent that the Tigers have to play. The Ivy League has also done well in the tournament as of recent, with Harvard winning a game in 2014, and Yale winning at 12-5 matchup in last year’s tournament. Notre Dame will be no easy out, but Princeton has a better-than-decent chance of continuing its 19-game winning streak.
2) Rhode Island (24-9) – 11th seed in the Midwest
The Rams would have likely found itself in a First Four game (or not in the Dance at all) had they not won their conference tournament, but beating VCU was big for Rhode Island. The Rams got a fortunate break in the seeding too. Rhode Island will play a very good Creighton team in round one, but it is the same Bluejays team that lost their All-American point guard Maurice Watson to injury earlier this season. If Rhode Island does find a way to knock off Creighton, they’ll likely end up seeing a Oregon team that just lost its best interior threat in Chris Boucher. The Rams are playing well and because of injury, their Cinderella path could be a bit more golden.
1) Middle Tennessee State (30-4) – 12th seed in the South
I feel like everyone is picking MTSU to beat Minnesota, but it feels like it is for good reason. The Golden Gophers are overseeded at #5, and only two teams (Gonzaga and Villanova) have fewer losses than the Blue Raiders do this season. Middle Tennessee State pulled off the upset last season, toppling #2 Michigan State as a #15 seed last year, and everyone knows that a #12 beats a #5 seemingly every year. I think they have the best shot to be this year’s Cinderella.
In case you were wondering, the Wall Street Journal ran a model and compared it to some other-well known analytics sites to try to predict what upsets might be in store.