With NCAA tip-offs mere hours away, I'm going out on a limb to highlight some of my favorite upset picks for the first round. "Favorite" upset predictions are kind of like "favorite" stocks in brand new IPOs--they're good for an adrenalin rush and some fun speculation, accompanied by the knowledge that they could also crush your portfolio like a cockroach. Same thing here, except your bracket is at stake. (Fortunately, in both cases there are ways to hedge your losses.)
But enough NCAA upset pick philosophy, here's what I've got.
Smart Upset Picks
#11 Kansas State beats #6 USC. The K-State Wildcats are better than their seed implies, and in the war of the League-bound prep stars, Michael Beasely will edge out O.J. Mayo and show why he deserves POY honors over Tyler Hansbrough. An upset is all the more likely if K-State's x-factor, Bill Walker shows up--he and Mayo played together in high school and might actually be the real rivalry here.
#10 Davidson beats # 7 Gonzaga. Davidson is the owner of the nation's longest current winning streak (22) and they're playing just 100 miles from home in Raleigh, NC, while the 'Zags will have to travel 2,000 miles. It's a good bet to say the streak goes to 23.
Solid Upset Picks
#12 Temple beats #5 Michigan State. This is that proverbial 12/5 upset special. Temple poses match-up problems for the Spartans, and Michigan State has been anything but consistent this season.
#9 Oregon beats #8 Mississippi State. The Ducks need redemption after an underachieving Pac 10 season.
#9 Texas A&M beats # 8 Brigham Young. A&M has several NBA-caliber players, and they've stopped underachieving just in time for NCAA play.
#10 Arizona beats #7 West Virginia. You might not know that the Wildcats are loaded, but they'll play to their talent level for at least one NCAA game.
Risky Upset Picks
#13 Siena beats #4 Vanderbilt. The Siena Saints have won six straight, while the Commodores have lost three of their last five. Confidence is the key ingredient that allows little teams to become giant slayers.
#11 Kentucky beats #6 Marquette. Billy Gillespie and the Wildcats have some things to prove. A good upset pick if you have the guts.