The 5/12 matchup is a popular upset special in the NCAA Tournament, but if it happens this year, don’t call it an upset – at least not in the South region.
“I think Middle Tennessee State is better than Minnesota,” bracketologist Dave Friedman said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I’m not high on Minnesota. I think they’re way, way over-seeded. I think Middle Tennessee, 35 RPI, 17 road-neutral wins – I think they’re way under-seeded. I just think they’re the better basketball team.”
No. 5 Minnesota (24-9) plays No. 12 Middle Tennessee (30-4) on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.
As for No. 1 seeds who could be upset early, keep your eyes on the left side of your bracket.
“I think Gonzaga could get knocked off before the Elite Eight, (but) it wouldn’t surprise me if Villanova was upset,” Friedman said. “The reason for that is two-fold. I think there’s some decent teams (in their region), and if this wasn’t 2017, if we didn’t just watch Villanova win the national championship last year, wouldn’t we be having the conversation about, ‘Well, the Big East isn’t a Power Five conference. We don’t really know how good those schools are’? Because Villanova won last year, we assume they’re as good as the teams in the Pac-12 and the ACC, but this is a different year, and I think the jury is really out on the Big East.”
Friedman likely would have picked Oregon (29-5) to win the national championship, but Chris Boucher’s season-ending injury changes things considerably. With Boucher out, Friedman is now rolling with Arizona (30-4).
“Lauri Markkanen is Dirk Nowitzki,” Friedman said. “He’s unbelievable. Since (Allonzo) Trier has come back, they’ve really kind of got a leader and a sense about them. I think it’s time for Sean Miller. They check every box.”