Giant Killers: West upset picks


West | Midwest | South | East

Last night, we fired up the Giant Killers model to pump out the 10 most likely upsets in the opening round. But now it's time to go deeper. Much deeper.

For each of the four regions, we'll break down the six games with Giant Killers implications. (Reminder: A Giant Killer is a team that beats an opponent seeded at least five spots higher; check out our full methodology for more details.)

We have also sorted the games into four categories: Best Bets, Worth a Long Look, Not Completely Crazy and Stay Away. It's important to remember that we're dealing with probabilities here. No upset is a given -- if it were, it wouldn't be an upset in the first place. And even a game with a 10 percent chance of going in favor of the underdog means that one out of every 10 times, the underdog should win.

Instead, we can give you the likelihood of an upset, based on rigorous statistical analysis that merges a team's base power rating with our GK "Secret Sauce" -- the statistical similarity between potential Giant Killers and historical Davids, as well as Giants and their predecessors who were slain. By coming up with a rating for every team, we are then able to compute an upset percentage for each matchup.

What you choose to do with that information is up to you, and should probably depend on how many points you receive for picking an upset in your pool. But keep checking back with us as we hit the Midwest and West today and the East and South on Tuesday, and look ahead to future rounds on Wednesday.

West Region

Here is our look at the West Region, leading off with an old GK favorite showing favorable odds in its matchup with a Pac-12 Giant.


No. 11 Belmont Bruins (Giant Killer rating: 45.8, on a scale of 0 to 100 percent estimated chance of beating a generic Giant) versus No. 6 Arizona Wildcats (Giant rating: 70.5)

Upset chance: 46.8 percent

It's no secret that statheads love the Bruins. We made them a Best Bet last season. And we've been writing about Kerron Johnson since he led the nation in steal percentage as a sophomore in 2010-11, when we told readers to bet the ranch on Belmont -- at least until the Bruins drew an extremely tough opponent.