Four Corners: Pick your best NCAA first-round bracket buster

March 18, 2010

Riding the Grizzlies
Kevin Van Valkenburg

Baltimore Sun

You know what Cinderella is wearing this week? Maroon and silver. Seriously, you can have your trendy upset picks like Murray State, Cornell and Siena. I'm riding with Montana.

You know why? Anthony Johnson. Did you see the Big Sky championship? Of course you didn't. The only people watching it east of the Mississippi were gambling addicts and insomniacs. Johnson hung 42 points on Weber State to rally the Grizzlies from a 20-point halftime deficit. He played better than anyone during championship week. Late in the game, the Wildcats were sending three guys at him and Johnson still couldn't be stopped. He was scoring from everywhere.

New Mexico is soft when playing outside "The Pit." New Mexico played four nonconference road games this season and lost to Oral Roberts. I think can hear Steve Alford cursing at Johnson already.

kvanvalkenburg2@tribune.com

Watch out, Vols
Houston Mitchell

Los Angeles Times

It seems a No. 10 seed always beats a No. 7 seed in the first round, and this year it will be No. 10 Missouri over No. 7 Clemson in the East Region.

But the big first-round upset will be No. 11 San Diego State over No. 6 Tennessee in the Midwest Region. The Volunteers are only 2-5 against teams in the RPI top 50, while San Diego State steamrollered through the Mountain West tournament, defeating regular-season champion New Mexico in the semifinals.

Also look for No. 11 Old Dominion to upset No. 6 Notre Dame in the South. Old Dominion has an RPI of 27, 22 spots higher than the Irish.

hmitchell2@tribune.com

Count on Siena – again
Andrew Carter

Orlando Sentinel

Start with Siena.

The Saints are the No. 13 seed in the South Region and drew a favorable draw against fourth-seeded Purdue, which still is attempting to rebound from the loss of star forward Robbie Hummel. Siena has history on its side - it beat Vanderbilt two years ago as a No. 13 seed, and the Saints also won last season as No. 9 seed, beating Ohio State.

The Saints didn't do much out of the MAAC, but they finished 17-1 in the conference and cruised to the league title. They have a lot of players who can score consistently - four average 13.6 points or more.

Outside of Siena, look at No. 12 Cornell, the champion of the Ivy League. The Big Red received a tough draw against Temple, a strong No. 5. While Cornell is a popular upset pick, no Ivy League team has won a tournament game since Princeton in 1998.

acarter@tribune.com

San Diego State clickin'
Shannon Ryan

Chicago Tribune

Tennessee is making its fifth straight NCAA tournament appearance. San Diego State doesn't need to feel jittery about its rare trip. The No. 11 Aztecs, who last made the tournament in 2006, match up well with No. 6 Tennessee and have the ability to outrebound the Vols, which could be the difference in their upset bid.

Freshman Kawhi Leonard averages 9.9 rebounds and grabbed a Mountain West tournament-record 21 to win the title against UNLV. The Aztecs outrebound opponents by nearly seven per game. This could be crucial in neutralizing Wayne Chism, a 6-9 forward/center who averages 12.5 points and 7.1 rebounds.

The Aztecs have won nine of 10. The Volunteers still are smarting from a 29-point loss to Kentucky. They won't feel any better after a first-round loss.

sryan@tribune.com

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