One guy’s Cinderella selection is another guy’s bracket buster. These four programs will likely leave more than a few crumpled NCAA tournament bets and bracket pools on the ground when March Madness is all said and done with.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
South Dakota State Jackrabbits +50,000 (25-9 SU, 16-13-0 ATS)
The Jackrabbits drew a No. 13 seed and a date with No. 4 Michigan (-11) in the second round, giving college basketball fans one of the best head-to-head scoring matchups in the tournament: Nate Wolters vs. Trey Burke.
South Dakota State nearly knocked off Baylor in the opening game of last year’s tournament and scored a win over New Mexico this season. The Wolverines aren’t playing their best ball right now, having covered the spread just twice in their last 10 games.
Bucknell Bison +20,000 (28-5 SU, 2-4 ATS)
Bucknell was tabbed as a No. 11 seed out of the Patriot League and has a favorable matchup with No. 6 Butler in the second round. The Bison are paced by one of the best big men in the country, Mike Muscala, who averages 19 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.
Behind center Andrew Smith, the Bulldogs don’t have much in terms of size and could be exposed down low by Muscala. Not only that, but the 6-foot-11, 239-pound senior can stretch the defense with his 3-point range. Beyond Butler, the Bison could run into an undersized Marquette team or Davidson in the Round of 32.
Iowa State Cyclones +10,000 (22-11 SU, 15-13-0 ATS)
The Cyclones can run any team in the country out of the gym with their guard-heavy lineup and Notre Dame is cut from a similar cloth. While the Irish are bigger than ISU, they rely heavily on their guard play and can easily get sucked into a track meet.
Iowa State can break games wide open with its 3-point shooting, which is evident by its 20-4 over/under record. If the Cyclones can get past Notre Dame, they would meet Ohio State or Iona in the Round of 32. Beyond that, ISU’s high-powered offense could carry it to meetings with New Mexico, Harvard, Arizona or Belmont in the Sweet 16.Florida Gulf Coast Eagles +100,000 (24-10 SU, 4-0 ATS)
Mismatches in style are what make the NCAA tournament great, and the No. 2 vs. No. 15 meeting between Florida Gulf Coast and Georgetown is that to the extreme. The Eagles average more than 73 points per game behind a quick-fire scoring attack, compared to the Hoyas’ methodical Princeton offense.
Georgetown has the edge in size and big-game experience but Florida Gulf Coast already has a victory over another No. 2 seed – defeating Miami 63-51 in November – and took on Duke, VCU, and Iowa State in non-conference play this season. It’s not crazy to think the Eagles can upset the Hoyas. Two No. 15 seeds advanced last March.