My upset pick for Thursday’s slate of games is the 11 seed San Diego State Aztecs over the 6 seed Tennessee out of the SEC. The Aztecs come into this game with a lot of momentum after winning the Mountain West title, which included wins over New Mexico and UNLV, who are both tournament teams. Many believed the Aztecs were snubbed in last year’s NCAA tournament, therefore they put all doubters aside this season as they went on to win 25 games this season and are probably playing this game with a chip on their shoulder. State is led by forward Kawhi Leonard, who is averaging nearly a double-double per game. Leonard could pose a problem for Tennessee’s frontcourt.
On the other side, Tennessee comes into this game as the only team in the nation to have beaten both 1 seeds Kansas and Kentucky this season. I think their seeding is a little forgiving and the inconsistent play of the Volunteers will be something to look for in this matchup. This team has the weapons to make it to the Final Four, but are also very vulnerable to lose a first-round game to a team like San Diego State. I think this Tennessee team will be looking past the Aztecs into their potential second-round game or even another meeting with the Jayhawks from Kansas, which will therefore lead to their upset and going back to Knoxville empty-handed with no tournament wins.
– John Thomas