Every year there are trendy upset picks when the NCAA Tournament bracket is revealed. This season, Liberty is near the top of the list by many as being one that is capable to make a splash on the national stage in the Big Dance.
Sporting News calls Liberty the best bet of a lower seed to reach the Sweet 16. “The Flames have won 12 straight games heading into the Big Dance, and this program is 82-16 over the last three seasons,” they stated. “Liberty pulled a 5-12 upset in 2019, and they have the guard play necessary to make a run with Darius McGhee and Chris Parker. Liberty is one of six teams in Division I that averaged fewer than 10 turnovers per game. That. efficient play could easily lead to an upset. That style could make it interesting against Oklahoma State and the winner of Tennessee-Oregon State. This is one 4-13 upset we like.”
That’s not the only national publication jumping on the Liberty bandwagon. ESPN calls Liberty over Oklahoma State one of the 10 most likely first round upsets in this year’s tournament, giving the Flames a 26% chance at the upset.
“Liberty would have been a little better off if it could have matched up against a team that matched the Flames’ slow pace, but it’s still a dangerous first-round foe,” the article stated. “Darius McGhee leads an efficient Flames attack that ranks in the top 10 in 2-point and 3-point field goal percentage, per KenPom. And Liberty takes care of the basketball, too. This is a tough draw for the Cowboys.”
The NCAA Tournament first expanded to 64 teams in 1985 and a 13 seed has won at least one game in 26 different tournaments. Also, four times, multiple 13 seeds have won games doing so in 1987, 2001, 2008, and 2018. A 13 over 4 upset has happened in each of the past two tournaments, including the two times in 2018.
13 seeds are 29-111 all-time in the first round with a winning percentage of 20.7%. 13 seeds are 6-2 in games decided by one point. Liberty will hope to improve those numbers slightly on Friday when the Flames take on No. 4 seed Oklahoma State. The game is scheduled to begin at 6:25 pm and will be televised on TBS.