March Madness: 7 Potential First-Round Upsets to Watch in 2019

These teams are ones that could make some noise on Thursday and Friday

Every year there are a bunch of upsets in the NCAA Tournament, but the key is trying to find them. The things I like to look for are the squads that struggled down the stretch playing teams that have nothing to lose and are on a win streak themselves. A superstar would be nice and a veteran head coach who will navigate these 40 minutes well are also things to consider. Let's take a look at some upsets to consider in the first round on Thursday and Friday.

 

East Region

 

No. 14 Yale Bulldogs

Opponent: No. 3 LSU (Thursday)
Record: 22-7 (Ivy League champs)

Why?: LSU's been dealing with a ton with all this Will Wade news. The Tigers have won five of their last six entering this one, but if there are any developments during the week, who knows if it will affect them. Yale is a veteran bunch with balanced scoring and victories over some Power 5 schools already. The Ivy League always seems to represent itself decently. 

 

No. 12 Liberty Flames

Opponent: No. 5 Mississippi State (Friday)

Record: 28-6 (Atlantic Sun champs)

Why?: Liberty plays the pack-line defense (one of the signatures of South Region No. 1 seed Virginia), which is tough for some teams to crack, especially on their first attempt. The Flames have some really good guards and a center in Scottie James that can be tough to handle. Mississippi State has lost three of its last five and I'm not exactly a huge fan of head coach Ben Howland. Will the Bulldogs have the patience on offense to find an open shot against the Flames' D?

 

West Region

 

No. 12 Murray State Racers

Opponent: No. 5 Marquette (Thursday)

Record: 27-4 (OVC champs)

Why?: Murray State's Ja Morant is worth the price of admission. His duel with Marquette's Markus Howard will be one of the best of the tournament. This will be an upset on a lot of people's lists so therefore it may not be as chic. Morant has a ton of talent around him and the Racers are oozing confidence. Howard's wrist injury will be something to watch.

 

No. 10 Florida Gators

Opponent: No. 7 Nevada (Thursday)

Record: 19-15
Why?: There seems to be a little something off with Nevada. Three of the Wolf Pack's four losses total have come in the last month or so. They are uber-talented, but it seems somewhat like they would want to play a finesse game which Florida won't let them do. The Gators have won seven of their last 11 games. I like Mike White as a head coach and think Florida gets the win here.

 

South Region

 

No. 13 UC Irvine Anteaters

Opponent: No. 4 Kansas State (Friday)

Record: 30-5 (Big West champs)

Why?: These two teams are somewhat mirror images of each other. They both play great defense and have plenty of scorers. We'll see what the status is of Kansas State senior forward Dean Wade. The first-team All-Big 12 selection missed the conference tournament with a foot injury. The Anteaters have great balance and in a game that may not see a ton of points, the underdog gains confidence the longer they hang around. I love UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner.

 

Midwest Region

 

No. 13 Northeastern Huskies

Opponent: No. 4 Kansas (Friday)

Record: 23-10 (CAA champs)

Why?: Northeastern's Vasa Pusica is a very good player that should be able to make a name for himself in this one. He's a really good guard who was hurt earlier in the year. Bill Coen is an underrated coach and this team from the CAA won't be intimidated by Kansas. The Jayhawks aren't deep and have flaws that could be exposed in this one.

 

No. 10 Seton Hall Pirates

Opponent: No. 7 Wofford (Thursday)

Record: 20-13

Why?: It is really weird to be typing that Seton Hall could upset Wofford. I'm taking nothing away from the Terriers but right now they are the hunted instead of the hunters. Myles Powell had a great Big East Tournament for the Pirates and has the opportunity to steal a game or two by himself. Wofford is very good, but if Powell goes off, then an upset could happen here.

 

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

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