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Northwestern State vs. Florida: Why Gators Need to Be Wary of Upset

Mar 16, 2013; Katy, TX, USA; Northwestern State Demons guard Gary Stewart (44) drives the ball in the first half against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks during the championship game of the Southland Conference tournament at the Merrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Siegal-EismanFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2013

When the NCAA tournament comes around every March, people around the country get excited for the games to begin. At the end of the tournament, a champion is crowned and cuts down the nets. Since the tournament's beginning in 1939, there have been major upsets that shock many people with unexpected victories.

It's not called March Madness for nothing.

Last night, No. 14 seed Harvard knocked off No. 3 seed New Mexico, which was one of the biggest upsets of the tournament.The Harvard win just shows that upsets can happen at any time. It just takes one team playing better in one game to beat a high seeded opponent.

The game between No. 14 seed Northwestern State and No. 3 seed Florida could be another upset that most people around the country don't predict. The Demons are an excellent offensive opponent who score a lot of points and run the ball quickly down the court.

Here are three reasons why the Gators need to be wary of an upset.

 

Northwestern State's high-powered offense may surprise.

The Demons rank first in the country with 81 points per game this season. The reason they rank so high is because they are a fast-paced team that pushes the ball down the court for easy buckets. Northwestern State rushes the ball down the court before the opposing teams' defenses can get set.

There are four players on the Northwestern team that average double-digit points per game. DeQuan Hicks leads the way with 14.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. His 6’7’’ size has made him a tough matchup for opponents. If this game turns into a high-scoring game instead of an offensive battle, then the Demons can upset the Gators.

 

Rebounding will be crucial to the upset.

The Demons are also a very good team at grabbing boards. They rank 13th in the nation with 39.3 rebounds per game. This is one of the main reasons why the Demons won 23 games this season. On the other side, the Gators rank 158th in the rebounding category. If the Demons can do a good job of boxing out Patric Young and Will Yeguete, then they can earn the second-round victory. 

 

History could repeat itself.

The Demons have only made two NCAA tournament appearances in their history. In those two appearances in 2001 and 2006, the Demons won their opening round games against Winthrop and Iowa. Fourteenth-year head coach Mike McConathy was at the helm of both of those upsets. Will this year be their third NCAA tournament win in three appearances? It certainly could be. 

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