Top five upsets of the first round

March 17, 2004, midnight | By Vivek Chellappa | 16 years, 10 months ago

Which teams can pull 'em off?

Every year, pundits pound out the possibilities of which little-known Cinderella teams can upset the established programs. The Gonzaga's and St. Bonaventure's of the world captivate the country with their carefree attitudes as they beat programs with million-dollar coaches and budgets. Silver Chips Online breaks down the top upset possibilities for the early rounds of the 2004 NCAA tournament.

Upset #1: Manhattan (12) over Florida (5)

Florida was ranked #1 in the country early in the season, but Florida's youth caught up to the team, as the Gators struggled mightily in the middle of the season, needing a big finish to end 9-7 in their conference. Florida did well in the SEC tourney by getting to the finals. They will face a veteran Manhattan squad led by Luis Flores, who was third in the nation this year in scoring with 24 points per game (ppg). Their starting lineup boasts three seniors, but the team has little balance. Aside from Flores, and forward Dave Holmes, who averages 13 ppg, the team has very few offensive threats. Manhattan may be able to catch Florida off-guard and take advantage of the Gator's overt lack of experience.

Upset #2: Louisville (10) over Xavier (7)

Louisville started the season with wins over Florida, Kentucky and Cincinnati, however, the team soon dropped drastically because of injuries, including coach Rick Pitino's one game absence due to a medical problem. The injured players have returned, and Rick Pitino, who has built up the Louisville program quickly in just a short tenure, will have his troops ready to play. Xavier is no pushover; the team handed St. Joe's its first loss of the year. Xavier also had some great wins against Cincinnati, and has won 9 of its last 10 games. However, Xavier's frontcourt is very weak and inexperienced, with two starting freshmen that only average a combined 12 ppg and 6.6 rebounds. Louisville star forward Francisco Garcia, who has averaged 21 ppg over the last five games, should be able to carry his team to the upset victory.

Upset #3: Pacific (12) over Providence (5)

Providence enters the tournament limping, having lost its last two home games, and after a disappointing quarterfinal exit from the Big East tourney to a lowly Villanova team. The Friar success revolves around its defense – the team is 10-1 when it holds opponents under 60 points. Providence has one of the tournament's best player in junior forward Ryan Gomes who averages 19 ppg and 9 rebounds. Pacific, the Big West champion enter the tournament on a fifteen game winning streak. The team relies on balanced scoring with senior point guard Miah Davis and sophomore forward Christian Maraker leading the charge. The game will be low-scoring the entire way, and a late shot by either team will be the difference. Pacific's deep bench gives them a good shot to pull off the upset.

Upset #4: Arizona (9) over Seton Hall (8)

With the seeding so close, this prediction is not much of an upset. Both teams have excellent offenses, with Arizona averaging 88 points a game. Coach Luke Olson's experience (42-24 NCAA tournament record) should make up for his team's lack of experience. Seton Hall is a very well rounded team but the team does not have either the defense to slow down Arizona or the offense to keep up. Also, Seton Hall coach Louis Orr has never coached a team in the NCAA tourney.

Upset #5 Utah (11) over Boston College (6)

Utah enters the tournament after switching coaches in late January due to former coach Rick Majerus stepping aside for health reasons. Under interim coach Kerry Rupp, Utah didn't lose a step, finishing 9-3. The team relies on guard Nick Jacobson and forward Andrew Bogut for offense, but has a weak bench. Utah will have to stay out of foul trouble for the entire game, and Jacobson will have to carry the team to a victory. If Utah can use its speed to get BC in foul trouble, Utah can upset BC. Boston College's strength lies in its three forwards, who average 40 points between them. They have several qualities wins against Providence, N.C. State and Syracuse, but BC's guards may be overmatched against Jacobson, who shoots 45 percent from the 3-point line.

Final Four Predictions:

Kentucky, Wake Forest, Mississippi St., Stanford

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Vivek Chellappa. As Vivek beings his final year in Blair, several new hobbies draw his attention: his passion for standup comedy and making lists with only one real piece of information. Vivek has recently developed a strong liking for the works of Mitch Hedberg, Dave Chapelle and … More »

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