Bracket busters to look out for this NCAA Tournament season
The task of correctly picking an upset team is an art. Here are four teams from mid-major conferences to look out for when filling out your bracket.
1. Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders (30-4 overall)
Cue heavy breathing from MSU fans, the Blue Raiders are better than last season when they upset the Spartans as a No. 15 seed. With an RPI of 35, Middle Tennessee is led by JaCorey Williams and his 17.3 points per game. Just behind Williams is MSU slayer Giddy Potts with 15.8 points per game. They won the Conference USA with a record of 17-1. Key wins include: Vanderbilt by 23 points and UNC Wilmington by five points. Their only bad loss was to Georgia State by eight points.
The Blue Raiders are the No. 12 seed in the South and will play No. 5 Minnesota in the first round.
2. UNC Wilmington Seahawks (29-5 overall)
The Seahawks will play as the No. 12 seed in the East against No. 5 Virginia.
This season the Seahawks own an RPI of 27 and are led by C.J. Bryce at 17.6 points per game. The Seahawks have the 10th best offense in Division I men’s basketball with 85.2 points per game.
UNC Wilmington has won its last seven games and was the winner of the Colonial Athletic Association.
3. Winthrop Eagles (26-6 overall)
The Eagles defeated three teams with RPI’s inside of the top 100: Illinois, Furman and UNC Asheville. They will play as the No. 13 seed against No. 4 seed Butler Bulldogs in Milwaukee, Wis.
Winthrop is led by a dynamic duo of Keon Johnson and Xavier Cooks. Johnson leads the team at 22.5 points per game and Cooks has 16.3 points per game with 9.2 rebounds per game. The Eagles defeated Campbell 76-59 in the Big South Championship game.
4. Florida Gulf Coast University (26-7 overall)
Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles will be the No. 14 seed and face No. 3 seed Florida State Seminoles in Orlando, Fla.
Nicknamed “Dunk City,” the Eagles finished first in the Atlantic Sun Conference. They have one win against the RPI top 50, against UT Arlington.
They lost to MSU on Nov. 20, 2016, 78-77, however the game received attention for the end of the game shot clock error.