The best part of the NCAA bracket other than seeing one for the first time in its pristine state is trying to forecast where the inevitable upsets will occur. They are the "can't-miss" part of the tournament, the games that envelop offices and living rooms around the nation. Other than the Olympics or the World Cup, when all of America pretty much pulls together to cheer for the nation's own athletes, I can't think of a much more singular experience in U.S. fandom than pulling for, say, a No.15 seed to beat a No.2.
With that in mind, here are my four upset picks for the first round of the tournament. (I don't count it as a real upset unless a double-digit seed wins -- no No.9 over No.8 games). Use them in your own brackets at your own risk. I stay away from online gambling for several reasons, but one of them is that I'd lose money at it:
1. No.14 Davidson over No.3 Marquette. Davidson has won 17 games in a row -- the longest win streak in the country -- and has much more size than your average mid-major conference champion in Jake Cohen and De'Mon Brooks, who has found his game just in time. Marquette is a serious team -- the Golden Eagles went 14-4 in the bruising Big East and love to grind it out. Don't be surprised if the final score is in the 50s. But if the Wildcats can make 35 percent or more of their three-point shots, they're going to surprise the country.
2. No.12 Oregon over No.5 Oklahoma State. Oregon was seeded too low to begin with and Oklahoma State once lost to Virginia Tech. Yes, that Virginia Tech.
3. No.13 New Mexico State over No.4 Saint Louis. I know Saint Louis is the class of the Atlantic 10. I know that conference was really good this year. For some reason, though, I just think this one is going to happen.
4. No.13 South Dakota State over No.4 Michigan. A team nicknamed the Jackrabbits? You've got to love that. Plus, guard Jackrabbit guard Nate Wolters can shoot the lights out.
If you've got a better upset pick, I'd like to hear it.
10 months ago