5 Predicted 1st Round Tourney Upsets Today
Purdue is on fire after winning the Big Ten Tournament Championship, but Northern Iowa presents an interesting matchup. Northern Iowa was my pre-selection Sunday choice for being the Cinderella team of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. UNI's 7'1 center Jordan Eglseder and star 6'8 forward Adam Koch put up 10+ points per game and 5+ rebounds each. The Northern Iowa Panthers resemble a Big Ten team both in size and in style of play. This is the worst time to play Purdue, but I would still keep this game on your upset radar.
#11 VCU vs. #6 UCLA (9:50 EST)
UCLA couldn't have possibly landed a tougher draw then the VCU Rams. Senior gaurd Eric Maynor is the best unknown player in all of college basketball. Maynor averages 22.4 PPG and 6.2 assists per game. As you may remember, Maynor led VCU over Duke in 2007 (that game was also an #11 seed vs. #6 seed). Maynor along with Sophomore forward Larry Sanders are both future NBA Draft picks. 6'10 Sanders 11.3 point per game, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks a game. UCLA got a raw deal receiving a 6 seed after finishing 2nd in the PAC 10 and compiling a 25-8 record, and will have an early exit in the tournament, possibly today.
#12 Western Kentucky vs. Illinois (9:55 EST)
An Upset minded and battle tested Western Kentucky team will give all it has against a short handed Illinois squad. Illinois will be without guard Chester Frazier for Thursday's game against Western Kentucky. Frazier led the team in assists (5.3), steals (1.4), and minutes (33.2), and was second in rebounds per game with 4.8. WKU was a Sweet 16 game last season and could make another appearance if Junior guard A.J. Slaughter can continue his success from the regular season (15.8 PPG, 3.1 Rebounds, 3.6 Assists, 1.3 Steals per game). WKU was undefeated at home this season (14-0) and beat the overall #1 seeded Louisville Cardinals. WKU will upset Illinois.
#10 Maryland vs. #7 California (2:55 EST)
An 18-12 regular season record for Maryland won't impress anyone, but some of the teams they beat in the ACC and non-conference clearly shows the Terps ability. Maryland has beaten Wake Forest, North Carolina, Michigan, and Michigan State. Guard Greivis Vasquez could be a tournament hero if Maryland can make it into the Sweet 16. Vasquez averages 17 points a game, is a great free throw shooter (87.7%), and can take a game over by himself. On February 21st, Vazquez put up 35 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists to lead Maryland over North Carolina. California has lost 4 of it's last 6 games and looks like easy prey for Maryland in the first round.
#10 Michigan vs. #7 Clemson (7:10 EST)
This should be a great first round match-up. The #10 seeded Michigan Wolverines will come out on top of the Clemson Tigers, that's a guarentee. Michigan has wins against Duke, UCLA, Purdue, and Minnesota. #21 Clemson is 4-6 in their last 10 games, including 2 unexplainable losses to 10-18 Virginia. Clemson is an overrated team from the ACC, and will take a first round exit compliments of the Wolverines.
Any others? Be sure to leave comments after these games are completed and my choices are proven correct or terribly wrong. Happy March Madness!