Busting Brackets

10 teams vulnerable to be upset in the first round of March Madness

There is an elite tier of college basketball this season, but it's an exclusive club. If your team is on the outside of that five or six-team group, then they could be vulnerable to a Round of 64 exit in the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari
Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari / Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA TODAY
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3. Iowa State. 25-7 (13-5). . . . . . Net: 9 Projected Seed: 2. 461

Iowa State finished second to Houston in the Big 12 with 13 wins, but the Cyclones also finished second to the Cougars in adjusted defensive efficiency and turnover margin. The Big 12 has the two best defensive teams in the country, but the difference between Kelvin Sampson’s team and T.J. Otzelberger’s is revealed on the offensive end. 

While Houston is led by Jamal Shead with support from LJ Cryer, Emanuel Sharp, and an athletic front court, Iowa State leads heavily on Ames Iowa native Tamin Lipsey, who scored 12.5 points and 4.8 assists in his first-team All-Big 12 season. Houston’s offense finished the regular season 13th in adjusted efficiency while Iowa State checked in at 70th. 

The Cyclones have an excellent defense and a great distributor but don’t have any true bucket-getters. The defense could carry them, but if Iowa State isn’t forcing turnovers, it will struggle to score and the Cyclones shoot under 70% from the free-throw line, so a lead in a close game isn’t necessarily safe.