There are several good reasons to pick at least one No. 11 seed over a No. 6 seed in your NCAA tournament bracket this week.
- It's fun.
- No. 11 seeds have won seven of 12 meetings in the past three years.
- Since 2010, No. 6 seeds have won at least three of the matchups in a tournament just once.
- Every tournament since 2005 has featured at last one upset of a No. 6 seed.
- Have you seen Maryland lately?
About that last point: The Terps, who play Thursday night, are 4-6 in their past 10 games. They lost to a not-fresh Northwestern team in a de facto home game in the Big Ten Conference tournament Friday. We still don't know what bad spirits were unleashed by that big, Ark of the Covenant-looking Under Armour crate.
Even against a Xavier team that ended the season with a worse 10-game slide, that has beaten only DePaul and Butler since early February, that lost a potential first-round NBA draft pick to a season-ending injury, Maryland does not inspire confidence in the general public.
In ESPN's Tournament Challenge, among No. 6 seeds as of Tuesday night, 85.3 percent of players have picked Southern Methodist to beat Providence or Southern California, 80.1 percent have picked Cincinnati to beat Kansas State or Wake Forest, 61.9 percent have picked Creighton to beat Rhode Island, and 57 percent have picked Maryland to win.
On Yahoo's Tourney Pick'em, the faith is similarly lacking. The Terps are picked in just 56.6 percent of brackets, behind Creighton (58.1), Cincinnati (77.4) and SMU (78.2).
Recent history does Maryland no favors. Seton Hall was the least popular No. 6 seed on ESPN last season, just edging these Terps (56.8 percent) in bracket picks. The Pirates proceeded to lose by 16 to a Gonzaga team that advanced to the Sweet 16.