2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdown: Who is on Upset Watch?

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Today, we are going to take a look at seven teams that are on Upset Watch.

In order to be eligible for this prestigious list, you have to be a No. 5 seed or higher in danger of losing to a No. 8 seed or lower in the first weekend of the tournament.

So without further ado, here are the teams that you should be wary of taking deep in the tournament, because they may not be around all that long:

No. 2 seed Kentucky: No one in the NCAA tournament got a worse draw than Kentucky did this year.

No one.

Rated as the best No. 2 seed, Kentucky was slotted in the South Region, the same region that features North Carolina at the top. And if that wasn’t tough enough, the Wildcats are, in all likelihood, going to have to beat UCLA in the Sweet 16 to get to UNC. And if that isn’t difficult enough, Kentucky drew Wichita State in the second round, should the Shockers get past a Dayton team they’ve favored over by seven points.

Wichita State is the No. 8 team on KenPom. They are tough and well-coached and older than you think. They are beating the hell out of everyone these days, and it is the worst miss-seed we’ve ever seen in the NCAA tournament seeding that the Shockers are a No. 10 seed.

Kentucky has a serious gripe here.

But they can’t change it now. They can only hope they get through.

No. 2 seed Louisville: The Cardinals have had issues scoring this season, particularly on the nights where Donovan Mitchell isn’t hitting shots. If there is one this that both Michigan and Oklahoma State are capable of doing, it’s putting up points and putting them up in a hurry. Oklahoma State has one of the nation’s best point guards in Jawun Evans, while Derrick Walton and Michigan have been on a terrific run since Mid-January, which included a run to the Big Ten tournament title after a plane crash en route to DC.

No. 3 seed Florida State: The Seminoles are the most talented team in the country that I just don’t trust. I don’t want to call them selfish, but I don’t know if they realize that Jonathan Isaac is the team’s best player. I don’t think he realizes it all the time, and that’s a bad combination. FSU gets FGCU in the first round of the tournament in Orlando, and I think that FGCU will win that game.

RELATED: Power Rankings 1-68 | Duke deserved a No. 1 seed | Committee got bubble right

REGIONAL BREAKDOWNS: East | Midwest | South | West

No. 3 seed Baylor: OK, so this technically doesn’t fit the criteria I listed above, but I do think that the Bears get picked of before the Sweet 16. I think they’ve been figured out, and it would not surprise me in the least if SMU rolls over them to get to the Sweet 16. The Bears don’t have great shooting and they don’t have great guard play, and those are the two things that you look for in teams that make runs in the tourney.

No. 5 seed Iowa State: The Cyclones are caught up in the most exciting game in the first round of the tournament, as they square off with No. 12 Nevada. The Wolf Pack have quite a bit of talent on their roster. Cameron Oliver can make the NBA. Jordan Caroline went for 45 points in a game this season. Marcus Marshall is a monster. As good as Iowa State is, they are going to have their work cut out for them getting past Nevada.

No. 5 seed Virginia: It’s tough for me to put Virginia on this list because I think they are the worst possible matchup for No. 12 seed UNC Wilmington. The Seahawks want nothing more than to make a basketball game ugly, choppy, chaotic and fast-paced. They want to force turnovers and run their opponent ragged. Virginia? They are the best in the country at controlling tempo. They don’t make mistakes. My first thought was to flat out write off UNCW.

Except Virginia can’t score. They don’t have to normally, because their defense is good enough to hold just about anyone in check, but their issues this season lower their margin for error, just like the fewer possessions they play lowers their margin for error. I think Kevin Keatts gives the ‘Hoos a fight.

No. 5 seed Minnesota: The Golden Gophers get Middle Tennessee State in the first round. The Blue Raiders may actually be better this season than they were a year ago, and last year they pulled off the greatest upset in the history of the first round of the NCAA tournament in beating No. 2 seed Michigan State. They won at Ole Miss after leading by 29 points at the half. They beat Vandy by 23. They won at Belmont. They’re legit, and Minnesota better come to play if the are going to advance.

Bluiett back to Xavier for senior season

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Xavier lost one significant piece to the professional ranks this spring, but will return another.

Trevon Bluiett, the team’s leading scorer last year, announced via social media that he will be back to play his senior season with the Musketeers.

Chris Mack will return the bulk of a roster that struggled February only to make a run to the Elite Eight, but getting Bluiett for a final season makes the Musketeers especially dangerous. The 6-foot-6 Bluiett scored a team-high 18.5 points per game last year while also putting up 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per night. He shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range, the second-best mark on the team. His return, even with point guard Edmond Sumner going pro amid his ACL tear recovery, makes Xavier one of the top teams in the Big East heading into the 2017-18 season.

Bluiett himself is enough to keep Xavier relevant in the league, but when he’s coupled with the likes of returners JP Macura, Sean O’Mara and Quentin Goodwin, plus a recruiting class featuring two four-star prospects, it’s not difficult to see a path for Mack’s group to a place where they can compete with the likes of Villanova and Seton Hall atop the league.

Welsh and Holiday returning to UCLA

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UCLA sustained some major, though expected, attrition from its roster this spring. On Tuesday, the Bruins announced a pair of significant contributors that will be back.

Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday will both return next season to the UCLA program, according to the school.

Welsh, a 7-foot center, averaged 10.8 points and 8.7 rebounds as a senior last year for the Bruins. He shot 58.5 percent from the floor and blocked 1.2 shots per game, and decided to declare for the NBA Draft without an agent before ultimately deciding to return to Westwood.

“Thomas has worked hard all spring,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “We supported him testing the NBA waters and are excited to have him returning for his senior year. He simply continues to develop each and every season.

“Thomas will be one of the top centers in college basketball next year and, undoubtedly, has a great chance to be a first-round pick in next season’s draft.”

The 6-foot-1 Holiday averaged 12.3 points and 4.4 assists last season while sharing a backcourt with Lonzo Ball, whose departure, along with those of TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton will leave UCLA with a very different look next season. The positive results, however, may not fluctuate too significantly with Welsh and Holiday coming back to play alongside two five-star recruits, Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands, as well as Lonzo’s younger brother LiAngelo.

West Virginia’s Macon forgoing final year

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West Virginia’s attempt to dethrone Kansas atop the Big 12 took a bit of a hit Tuesday.

Elijah Macon, a 6-foot-9 forward, announced his decision to forego a fifth year in Morgantown in order to pursue a professional career.

“First things first I would like to say thank you Bob Huggins and Erik Martin for believing in a young 15-year-old boy growing up from the Southside of Columbus, OH losing my mother and still having you guys push me to be the man I have become,” Macon said according to the school. “I can do nothing but thank you for all you and Mountaineer Nation (have) done for me. Unfortunately, I will not be returning for my senior season at WVU and instead sign with a(n) agent and play professional basketball. Thank you guys for all the love and support!”

Macon wasn’t a major contributor for the Mountaineers last season, averaging 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 16 minutes per game, but he was an experienced and tough player who was well-versed in Huggins’ style and demands. Given the pace that the newly-fashioned Press Virginia plays at, depth is also paramount for them as a program.

Macon’s departure, though, may have been expected or at least partly anticipated by West Virginia. The Mountaineers signed five players in its most recent recruiting class, putting them one over their allotment of 13, so something had to give. West VIrginia will stay have interior depth, anchored by junior Esa Ahmad, so the loss of Macon is one they likely can weather, even if it may take some time to acclimate the newcomers.

“Elijah is in the process of completing classes during this summer school period that ends June 2 and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in August,” Huggins said in a statement released by the school. “I respect his decision to become a professional basketball player and to go make money to support his family. He had a great four years with us, and we wish him nothing but the best.”

Key returning to Alabama for sophomore season

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Alabama’s top scorer is returning to school.

Braxton Key has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will be back with the Tide for his sophomore season, the school announced Tuesday.

“I spoke to coach Avery (Johnson) just over a week ago and informed him of my decision to withdraw my name from the NBA Draft and return to the University of Alabama for my sophomore season,” Key said in a statement. “I made that official when I sent my paperwork to the NBA league office Monday morning. I want to express my appreciation to my teammates, Coach Johnson and the entire coaching staff for giving me their full support while I went through this process.

“I am excited for the future of the Alabama basketball program and looking forward to getting to work as we prepare for next season. Roll Tide and Buckle Up!”

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the field as a freshman. He gives Alabama four returning starts to pair with one of the country’s highest-regarded recruiting classes, headlined by five-star guard Collin Sexton. The Tide will also have an eligible Daniel Giddens, who previously transferred in from Ohio State.

Key didn’t seem likely to stay in the NBA draft, especially after he wasn’t invited to the combine, but his ultimate decision is a huge one for Avery Johnson as he looks to break through in his third season in Tuscaloosa with his first NCAA tournament appearance. 

Report: Justin Jackson to return to Maryland

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Maryland forward Justin Jackson is expected to return to school for his sophomore season, according to a report from FanRag Sports.

Jackson is an intriguing talent, a 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan that shoots 44 percent from three. But he’s also still developing his offensive game and consistency on the defensive end of the floor, which is why he was projected as a second round pick in this year’s draft.

With Jackson back in the fold, Maryland is a borderline top 25 team. They lost Melo Trimble to the professional ranks, but that’s something that Mark Turgeon has prepared for. With a sophomore class that also includes highly-regarded point guard Anthony Cowan and sharp-shooter Kevin Huerter, the Terps have a promising season ahead of them.