The Round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament offers up some of the most exciting basketball of the year, with smaller schools getting their chance to spoil the party for the perennial powerhouses.
Last year, five No. 11 and No. 12 seeds staged stunning Round of 64 upsets, joined by the No. 14 Mercer Bears, who shocked the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils with a 78-71 win while pegged as 12.5-point underdogs. Here is a look at a few games with upset potential in this year’s Round of 64 . . .
No. 12 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (+6.5 at Bodog) over No. 5 Utah Utes
Stephen F. Austin will look to play spoiler for the second straight year after knocking off VCU last season as a 12-seed. The Lumberjacks are 28-1 SU in their last 29, winning by double-digits in their last nine. The Utes, meanwhile, have struggled to find wins of late, going 4-4 SU in their last eight, and 3-6 ATS in their last nine, and have posted just two SU wins this season, 1-1 ATS, against March Madness-bound teams.
No. 10 Davidson Wildcats (+2.5 at Bodog) over No. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes
The Wildcats had a 10-game SU win streak stopped with a 93-73 beating by VCU in the Atlantic 10 Tournament semi-final, but have been consistently strong all season, going 22-6 ATS, and have been strong performers as underdogs, 5-4 SU and 7-2 ATS. The Hawkeyes are enjoying a solid 6-1 SU stretch, 5-1-1 ATS, but looked flat in their Big Ten Tournament semi-final loss to the 4-14 Penn State Nittany Lions, recalling their dismal mid-season stretch of just four wins in 10 games, SU and ATS.
No. 12 Wofford Terriers (+7.5 at Bodog over No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks
The Terriers enter the NCAA Tournament riding an impressive eight-game SU win streak, 6-2 ATS, including five victories by double-digits. With this year marking Wofford’s fourth March Madness appearance in the last six years, expectations are higher. The Terriers have averaged almost 73 points per game in their last eight, overcoming early-season production problems. That could be trouble for Arkansas, who have seen their Top-20 offense sputter in their last two outings.
No. 14 Georgia State Panthers (+9 at Bodog over No. 3 Baylor Bears
The Panthers earned a March Madness berth with their first Sun Belt Tournament championship, extending their current SU win streak to five games. The squad has dropped two straight ATS, but with the return of injured leading scorer Ryan Harrow to the lineup, Georgia State cannot be taken lightly. The Bears are just 6-5 SU in their last 11 as favorites, are a mediocre 5-5 ATS in their last 10, and just 1-3 ATS in their last four as favorites of more than eight points.
The NCAA Tournament provides lesser-known schools with the chance to play Cinderella on college basketball’s biggest stage. Over the past two years, five No. 12 seeds and three No. 11 seeds have defied the odds, scoring some of the biggest upsets in March Madness history. The stage is set once again for the underdog to prevail at the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
No. 12 Harvard Crimson (+3 at Bodog) over No. 5 Cincinnati Bearcats
Harvard was the first team to secure a March Madness berth this year. They enter the tourney riding an eight-game winning streak SU (6-2 ATS), and will be looking to play spoiler for the second straight year after knocking off New Mexico as a No. 14 seed a year ago. Cincy enters the tourney 3-3 SU in their last six, 1-4 ATS in their last five.
No. 12 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (+6.5 at Bodog) over No. 5 Virginia Commonwealth Rams
The 26-8 Rams (18-14 ATS) have been ranked in the middle of the pack all season. They were on a 6-0 run (SU & ATS) before being upset 65-61 by unranked St. Joseph’s in the A-10 title game. VCU will be playing their fourth game in a week when they face SFA, who have not lost since November, dominated in their 68-49 win over Sam Houston in the Southland Tournament title game, and own the 10th-best road defense in the nation (62.13 PPG).
No. 12 North Dakota State Bison (+3.5 at Bodog) over No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma was strong down the stretch, going 5-1 SU (6-0 ATS). But the young Sooners were asleep at the switch in their 78-73 loss to Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals. The Bison, winners of their last nine SU, have strength inside and out, and are stacked with seniors who are looking to end their collegiate careers on a winning note.
No. 11 Nebraska Cornhuskers (+3.5 at Bodog) over No. 6 Baylor Bears
Baylor clawed back into the national rankings with their gutsy win over Oklahoma, but were outclassed by Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament final. The Bears were 6-0 SU prior to their loss to Iowa State, but are a mediocre 9-8-1 ATS as favorites this season. Baylor is 3-1 SU in their last four versus Nebraska, but only 1-3 ATS. The Cornhuskers may be due for a win over a familiar foe.
No. 11 Dayton Flyers (+6 at Bodog) over No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes have lost three of their last six SU (0-6 ATS), and came out flat in a 72-69 loss to Michigan in the Big Ten semifinals. Ohio State will need to find their early season form, during which they won 15 straight SU (8-6 ATS) to hold off a Dayton team that won as a No. 11 seed in their last March Madness appearance in 2009. The Flyers are 10-2 SU (8-4 ATS) in their last 12 and 2-1 SU against nationally-ranked teams this season.
No. 9 Villanova (+4.0) over No. 8 North Carolina
UNC finished the season on an 8-2 SU run, but has an 0-5 SU record in its last five games against ranked opponents. Villanova isn’t ranked, but it is a quality team featuring two players in Ryan Arcidiacono and Mouphtaou Yarou that are capable of getting hot and leading the team to an upset here in the Round of 64 and maybe even against No. 1 Kansas.
No. 12 Oregon (+3.0) over No. 5 Oklahoma State
Playing relentless defense and getting balanced scoring across the board, Oregon is exactly the type of team you hate to draw in the first round. After ending the regular season in a slump, Oregon rallied to win the Pac-12 (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) and looks to be geared up for a nice run in the tournament.
No. 11 Belmont (+4.5) over No. 6 Arizona
After starting the season off on a 14-0 run, Arizona turned out to be pretty pedestrian down the stretch with a 5-5 SU and 4-6 ATS record over its last 10 games. Belmont enters the game with six straight wins (3-3 ATS), and as a great 3-point shooting team going up against Arizona’s shaky offense, should be able to put up enough offense to give Arizona a run.
No. 12 California (+3.0) over No. 5 UNLV
A mix-up by the NCAA selection committee landed Cal this virtual home game played in San Jose. Cal finished the season on a low note with two losses but was 7-0 SU and 5-1-1 ATS in its previous seven games including wins over Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon. A favorable crowd could get Cal back on track and make them a serious threat to UNLV.
No. 15 Iona (+14.0) over No. 2 Ohio State
Looking for a home run upset? This could be it. Obviously a team like Iona would have to catch Ohio State sleeping for an outright upset. However, if Ohio State comes in over-confident after winning the Big Ten Tournament and gets caught looking ahead, Iona has the offense (second in the nation averaging 80.7 PPG) to pull off a stunner.