NCAA Tournament

Wichita State headlines weak class of underdogs, potential upsets

In 2015, The Daily Cardinal predicted that No. 14 Georgia State would upset No. 3 Baylor. In 2016, we predicted that No. 13 Hawaii would upset No. 4 Cal. Which upsets are likely to happen this year?

Image By: Graphic by Thomas Valtin-Erwin through Tableau Public

After a head-scratching 2016 NCAA Tournament slate wherein nine supposed underdog teams were projected to be favorites in the first round by The Daily Cardinal Calculator, the selection committee likely heard the complaints of The Daily Cardinal.

Last year, six of the seed-underdogs that The Daily Cardinal identified as First Round favorites went on to win. Nearly half of the seed-upsets in the First Round were correctly predicted by the Calculator.

Only one “underdog” is expected to win its first-round matchup this season, per the Daily Cardinal Calculator. But while, last season, the underdog with the best chance to win (Cincinnati) was given a 68.4 percent chance of advancing, Wichita State appears massively under-seeded as the 10-seed in the South Region.

The Daily Cardinal’s predictive rating system gives the Shockers an astonishing 78.7 percent chance to upset No. 7 seed Dayton in the First Round. The underdog with the next best chance to survive is No. 10 seed Oklahoma State with a 46.8 percent chance to topple red-hot Michigan.

Just nine of the 44 underdog seeds in this year’s bracket have a better chance of winning than would be expected for an average team of that seed. Virginia Tech, a 9-seed, drew the worst matchup; the Hokies will face off with No. 8 seed Wisconsin in the First Round and have just a 21.5 percent chance to win.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers came into the Big Ten Tournament as one of hottest teams in the country, but an injury to guard Akeem Springs has set back the No. 5 seed in the South. They will be favorites in the first round, but have just a 61.7 percent chance to best Middle Tennessee.

The Blue Raiders already have one massive tournament upset over a Big Ten team under their belts, having famously beaten No. 2 seed Michigan State in 2016, laying waste to millions of brackets. They’ll have a significantly better chance to advance out of the First Round this year. 

See below for an interactive graphic of all the underdogs' chances of winning compared to average.

Check out the Daily Cardinal's full NCAA Tournament Preview package here.

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