Evaluating The 5 Trendy Upset Picks In The First Round Of The 2017 NCAA Tournament

Upsets are the lifeblood of the NCAA Tournament, and it what makes the first few days of March Madness particularly great. Everyone likes to find those sleeper teams they pick to win a game or two in their bracket, and there are a few matchups that have become the trendy upset picks. Here are the five most popular upset picks in this year's bracket:

(10) Wichita State Shockers over (7) Dayton Flyers 
It's really a shame that these two teams have to play each other so early, but what we get is the best game of the first round. Many metrics projected Wichita State to be a five or six-seed in the tournament, and they were definitely deserving of a much higher seed than what they got. KenPom.com ranks the Shockers No. 8 in the entire country as they are in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They have a history of tournament success, have won 15 straight games and are one of the deepest and most balanced teams in the country.

It will not be a shock (pun intended) if Wichita State wins. In fact, they're the favorite. But I'm picking Dayton. The Flyers have a veteran team with many of the same players that led them to the Elite 8 three years ago and have wins over several tournament teams (Rhode Island (twice), VCU, Vanderbilt, East Tennessee State, Winthrop) this year.

As for Wichita, their metrics are great, but they don't have a single win over another tournament team. In fact, 24 of their 30 wins came against teams that finished outside the top 150 in the RPI. This game will be a toss up.

(12) UNC-Wilmington Seahawks over (5) Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia really struggles to score, ranking 312th in points per game (66.6). A lot of that has to do with the slow pace they play, but they also don't have a single player who can consistently create their own shot and can be consistently relied on to give them offense. While they try to slow the game game, UNCW wants to speed the game up. 

Wilmington nearly upset Duke in the first round last year, and they have been waiting to make their mark in this year's tournament. They're extremely balanced with four different players averaging at least 12 points, and their top three scorers are all guards, led by 6-foot-5 sophomore C.J. Bryce (17.6 ppg). That versatility will spread Virginia's pack-line defense out as much as they can, and their efficiency (Wilmington leads the nation in fewest turnovers per possession) will keep the Cavaliers from creating opportunities off their defense.

It will be a close game, and Virginia has struggled in close games because of their inability to score. I think that means UNCW takes this one.

(12) Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders over (5) Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Blue Raiders wrecked a whole lot of brackets last year by upsetting Michigan State as a 15-seed last year, and return almost everyone from that team. Junior Giddy Potts (15.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is a star, but their best player may be Arkansas transfer JaCorey Williams, who is averaging 17.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg. They are talented, proven (No. 35 RPI) and experienced.

Minnesota is a quality team that is good in a lot of areas, but they don't have anything they can hang their hat on. They're also one of the most inefficient offensive teams in the tournament field, ranking 81st in adjusted offense by KenPom.com. That, and their tournament inexperience, has them ripe for the picking for an upset.

(11) Rhode Island Rams over (6) Creighton Blue Jays
Rhode Island needed to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament just to earn a bid, and now that they're here, they're a very, very dangerous team. The Rams are on an eight-game winning streak, finally displaying all of the ability that had them ranked in the preseason top 25. They're also finally healthy, which is the biggest reason behind this surge. 

Creighton has one of the best players you've probably never heard of in big man Justin Patton (13.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg), but they just haven't been the same since losing star point guard Maurice Watson Jr. They're a team that has become more reliant on the three-pointer, and I think that plays right into Rhode Island's hands. I see them winning by a pretty good margin.

(14) Florida Gulf Coast Eagles over (3) Florida State Seminoles 
There is a lot of steam behind FGCU pulling off this upset, and for good reason. Florida State has been inconsistent and disinterested on defense at times this year, and the Eagles boast a quality mid-major team. They have a lot of offensive firepower, but they don't have a lot of size. At 6-foot-9, Demetris Morant and Antravious Simmons are the two tallest players in their rotation.

On the flip side, Florida State is the second tallest team in the country with an average height of 6-foot-7. That size will deter FGCU from attacking the rim and force them to the perimeter, where they shoot just 33.9 percent from three-point range (219th in the country).

I don't see an upset happening here, but it is entirely possible that Florida State puts up a dud - they've done it a few times this year.

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Related Topics: NCAA Basketball, NCAA Tournament, NCAA March Madness, March Madness, 2017 NCAA Tournament