NCAA Bracket 2011 Predictions: 5 Best Chances for a First-Round Upset

paul fergusonCorrespondent IMarch 14, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Kemba Walker #15 and Roscoe Smith #22 of the Connecticut Huskies celebrate late in the game against the Louisville Cardinals during the championship of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

That time of year has come, when people skip work and flock to sports bars around the country to watch the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

March Madness is perhaps the greatest time of the year, where anything can happen, and "Cinderella teams" look to take the magical journey through March, en route to a Final Four.

Perhaps the most memorable "Cinderellas" as of late was George Mason who, as a No. 11, made it to the Final Four before being defeated. The most notable, however, was probably Butler who made a dramatic march all the way to the NCAA championship game last year. The Bulldogs were defeated by Duke, after a half-court shot rimmed out just short of winning the National Title. 

The 2011 brackets are now out, and people around the country are starting to fill out their brackets. The trendy thing to do, in this day and age, is to root for the underdog, so people love picking upsets in the NCAA tournament. 

There will always be an upset in the NCAA tournament, and you should always have a few on your bracket. 

Here are my Top Five chances for an upset in the first round of games.

5. No. 10 Florida State over No. 7 Texas A&M

For the majority of the season, Texas A&M has been ranked in the Top 25. They have won the majority of the games they were expected to win and lost most of the games they were expected to lose.

They have a good shot at winning this game, and in all honesty, are probably the favorite. However, Florida State is still hurting from the conference tournament loss against Virginia Tech. 

Was the ball still touching Derwin Kitchen's hand when he shot it?  I am still not sure. One thing I am sure of is that Florida State will be playing with a chip on its shoulder and looking to recover from the loss. 

The Aggies enter the tournament on a skid, having lost three of their last five. 

Go with Florida State to avenge their loss against Virginia Tech and upset the Aggies.

4. No. 12 Richmond over No. 5 Vanderbilt 

Richmond captured its first Atlantic 10 title with a 67-54 win over Dayton. They come into the NCAA tournament riding the hot hand of Atlantic 10 MVP Kevin Anderson. 

Harper was the team's leading scorer with 17.9 ppg and rebounder with 7.8 rpg during the regular season, while Anderson averaged 16.4 ppg and led the team in assists.

Overall, the Richmond Spiders are averaging 70.2 points per game and allowing 61.0, the 23rd best mark in the nation. 

Vanderbilt fell in the semis of the SEC Tournament and have just not impressed me this season. 

Richmond is a team led by seniors and full of confidence.

Look for them to pull off this upset in a classic No. 5 vs No. 12 matchup. 

3. No. 11 Missouri over No. 6 Cincinnati 

The Missouri Tigers are known for playing the fastest 40 minutes in basketball. Essentially, this means that they will press and trap you all over the court as well as get out on the fast break and beat you in transition.

Missouri's style of play is hard to prepare for if you are not used to it, and this will lead to their upset of the Bearcats. 

Cincinnati tries to grind people into submission with relentless defense and a slow and steady offensive approach. They, however, will not be able to do this against the Tigers, and who should win in a fairly close game. 

Look for Mizzou to pull off the upset. 

2. No. 13 Belmont over No. 4 Wisconsin 

The Badgers were one of the best teams in the nation at times in 2010-11, as Bo Ryan's offensive and defensive schemes produced another strong season in Madison. Led by point guard Jordan Taylor, and post Jon Leuer, they have a two strong stars who can carry this team. 

They will face some problems in Belmont, however. Belmont is the trendy upset pick in this year's tournament—and for a good reason. They play a unique four-man out offense that is difficult to prepare for, and Wisconsin struggled down the stretch. 

Belmont has 11 players who can play effectively and will wear down Wisconsin to pull out a very close one in the end.

Go with Belmont over Wisconsin.

1. No. 12 Utah State over No. 5 Kansas State

The Utah State Aggies are the most under-seeded team in this year's tournament. With a record of 30-3, the Aggies have been one of the best teams in the country. 

Yes, Frank Martin's Wildcats made the Elite Eight last year, and they have star guard, Jacob Pullen, who is one of the best players in the country. Yes, the Wildcats have been playing great basketball as of late and some even have them making the Final Four.

Not so fast.

The Aggies will come into the game offended by the seed given them by the selection committee and will be playing with a vengeance. They're focused and determined, a fact that can make up for their lack of overall talent.

Look for Utah State to pull off the upset over the undisciplined Wildcats.

Upset that won't happen, but I can see happening: If you are looking for a reach in the first round, Princeton is a possibility to upset Kentucky. Princeton has an offense that is difficult to prepare for if you have not seen it. I believe they will give Kentucky a scare in the first round, but UK will pull it out in the end. 


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