Five potential Round of 64 upsets:

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Five potential Round of 64 upsets:

Luke Lusson, Reporter

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(11)Rhode Island beating (6)Creighton: Coached by defensive-minded Danny Hurley, the Rhode Island Rams enter the tournament fresh off an Atlantic 10 title and have won 10 of their last 12 games. On the other hand, Creighton is without key player Maurice Watson Jr. due to a season ending injury. The junior point guard was huge for the Blue Jays prior to his injury and he may see his team struggle in this matchup against the tough Ram defense.

(12)Middle Tennessee beating (5)Minnesota: This one will not come as too much of a surprise considering all the hype that Middle Tennessee has been getting after their thrilling upset over Michigan State a year ago. However, the hype is well deserved as the Blue Raiders return two key players from last year’s squad in Reggie Upshaw and Giddy Potts, who were the two leading scorers in last year’s tournament win over Michigan State. Also, Middle Tennessee now has JaCorey Williams, a 6’8″ transfer from Arkansas who leads the team with 17.3 points per game and was awarded Conference USA player of the year. This Middle Tennessee team is undoubtedly better than the Cinderella story team we saw last year, which may put fifth-seeded Minnesota in some trouble.

(12)UNC Wilmington beating (5)Virginia: UNC Wilmington comes into the tournament as one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the entire field. The Seahawks average a whopping 85.2 points per contest and are in the tournament for a second straight year. Last year, they led Duke at halftime in the round of 64, but couldn’t hang on as they lost 93-85 in a shootout. This year, UNC Wilmington will not have to worry as much on the defensive end as they take on a Virginia team that prides itself on defense, not offense. Ultimately, UNC Wilmington’s high-powered offense has the capability of leading them past Virginia in this game.

(11)Xavier beating (6)Maryland: Xavier comes to the tournament in following a roller coaster of a season, but they have hung in there in the tough Big East Conference despite the injury of Edmond Sumner. The Musketeers pose the biggest problem with their incredible height and tough play down low, combined with the balanced scoring from Trevon Bluiett (18.1 PPG). I think these factors will give Maryland, a young team who has dropped six of the last 10 games, some trouble in this matchup.

(14)Iona beating (3)Oregon: I know this one may sound crazy, but we’ve seen crazier things happen in the month of March. As a matter of fact, a 14 seed has knocked off a three seed in each of the past four NCAA tournaments. The Iona Gaels are a stellar offensive team that come in scoring 80.5 points per game and hit 39.7 percent of their three-point attempts. On the other side, Oregon lost their key big man, Chris Boucher, to a season ending injury in the PAC-12 tournament. This will definitely help the Gaels, who are a bit undersized and struggle down low against bigger teams. The keys for Iona in this matchup will be to defend Oregon from three-point range and slow down superstar Dillon Brooks. I think they’re up for the challenge.

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