8 Potential First Round Upsets to Watch for in the 2018 NCAA Tournament

There are several teams who could wreck your bracket early in this tournament

The 2018 NCAA Tournament bracket has been released and instantly everyone across America is scurrying to the internet to find out about some of these teams that they have never seen and probably couldn't find on the map.

 

There are several common threads among the squads that make this list — veteran players, good coaches, a fearless attitude and a style that is potentially hard to prepare for. You can eliminate the No. 16s and the No. 15s as this is a very strong group of No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. I will say this though — Penn is a lot better than your typical No. 16 seed.

 

13 Marshall over 4 Wichita State (East Region)

I like the Shockers and think they could make a run if they get past this one. We know how deep they are and how veteran of a group they have. Gregg Marshall knows how to get his team focused in tournament play. Marshall is an intriguing bunch as the Thundering Herd have the athleticism to compete with a lot of teams in the country. Jon Elmore is an incredible shooter and Ajdin Penava is a very good big man. The Conference USA Tournament champs can fill it up and we've seen Wichita State struggle with the more athletic teams on their schedule.

 

13 College of Charleston over 4 Auburn (Midwest Region)

Charleston was one of my five mid-major teams to watch before the conference tournaments and they took care of business in the CAA. The Cougars have a big three of Grant Riller, Joe Chealey and Jarrell Brantley. If they can improve on the defensive end, they can frustrate an Auburn team that isn't 100 percent without Anfernee McLemore. The Tigers have the guard advantage in this one, but they've lost three of four and four of their last six.

 

12 New Mexico State over 5 Clemson (Midwest Region)

Clemson has lost five of its last eight and has shown at times that the offense isn’t the same without Donte Grantham. The Tigers scored less than 60 points in four of those defeats. They've got some size and some balance, but the Aggies also play some great defense of their own. Senior guard Zach Lofton got some tourney experience with Texas Southern last year and you know New Mexico State head coach Chris Jans will have this team ready.

 

12 Murray State over 5 West Virginia (East Region)

Ironically, West Virginia made this article last year when the Mountaineers opened against Bucknell. The Racers beat Wright State and played Middle Tennessee and Auburn tough already this season. Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year Jonathan Stark won't get enough publicity but he's someone that West Virginia will definitely have to contend with. The Mountaineers are such a mixed bag and if you get them on the right night, they can't shoot and the defense doesn't force turnovers.

 

12 Davidson over 5 Kentucky (South Region)

This will not gain me any friends in Big Blue Nation, but I think Davidson has what it takes to pull off an upset here. The Wildcats from the Atlantic 10 have Peyton Aldridge and Kellan Grady as well as respected head coach Bob McKillop and that's enough to wreak some havoc. Kentucky is hot right now, but we've seen this before where the SEC Tournament champs play really well and then the rug gets pulled out from under them. Davidson won't be intimidated and the long the other Wildcats stay close or maintain a lead against UK, we might see a young team get frazzled.

 

11 San Diego State over 6 Houston (West Region)

I'm not as big a Houston guy as a lot of people, but the Cougars closed well down the stretch with Rob Gray leading the way. This also is a team that although undersized can rebound with the best of them. I absolutely love what the Aztecs did down the stretch and think they could be a real threat here. San Diego State won nine in a row and did so by clamping down on the defensive end. With Trey Kell healthy and Malik Pope on target, they have five double-digit scorers. Watch out for the Mountain West champions.

 

11 Loyola (Chicago) over 6 Miami (South Region)

The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament champions already have a road win against Florida on their resume and play good enough defense to drag this matchup with Miami into a rock fight. The country will get to know the Ramblers' duo of Clayton Custer and Donte Ingram, who lead the team in scoring. The Hurricanes are one of the toughest teams in the country and Chris Lykes is going to develop into an awesome player. Head coach Jim Laranagga knows about upsets this time of year, so he'll have his team ready, but don't expect a ton of points and in tight games like this, the underdog always has a shot.

 

11 St. Bonaventure/UCLA over 6 Florida (East Region)

I mean come on... I get two teams for the price of one here, right? I really do think the winner of this one can beat Florida. The Bonnies have arguably a top-five backcourt in Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams. Their problem is injuries to Courtney Stockard and some of their frontcourt players in the Atlantic 10 Tournament bear watching. UCLA's Aaron Holiday is incredible and Thomas Welsh is a very good big man. I think either team can beat an inconsistent Gators team that has seen their offense come and go

 

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

 

(Top photo courtesy of @DavidsonMBB)

Event Date: 
Sunday, March 11, 2018 - 20:02

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