One thing that all sports and college basketball fans love is Upsets. Cinderalla riding through the tournament and slaying the giants. I love it, you love it, America loves it. So, what do most upsets have in common? I have a few things to watch out for in regards to upsets, and also how that applies to the foe that Baylor wishes to vanquish; Nebraska.
1. Experience - This is the #1 thing for me, and what I look for in upset picks. Is it an experienced team. Is it a team that has played together for a few years with 2-3 seniors at least in the major rotation. The one advantage mid-major and under schools have over some of the upper division teams is the ability to grow and play together. With kids leaving school early, highly rated recruits not getting time and transferring away, a lot of BCS teams have tons of turnover. The small conference schools can take a 5-man class and let it grow together to make one glorious run.
Nebraska - they are an incredibly young team. 4 sophomores in the lineup, just 1 senior. Very dependent on transfers, with two of their best players coming to NU that way.
2. Great Guard Play - While great might not be a need, stable and steady is. You have to have a guy that can control the game on offense for you. Look for a team with a good/great point guard that is seeded lowly, and watch out for them. The point guard position is still the marquee one in college basketball. They have the ball most of the time, and make the engine go.
Nebraska – Point guard has been an issue for the Cornhuskers this season. They have started a sophomore and a freshman player recently. Tai Webster has received more minutes this year, but has played minimal minutes the past 2 games. He has struggled this year with turnovers and has made just 1 shot in the last 6 games, and 2 in 11 games.
3. One low-post monster – Against bigger and more athletic teams, you need a guy to do the dirty work on the glass and make sure that there isn't a layup line underneath the basket. It can be your best player, or just a solid starter that plays a tremendous game. Usually, height is not where these guys make their way, but just brute strength or excellent positioning, so it helps to be a senior going against an underclassmen.
Nebraska – The Cornhuskers have solid size at the 3, 4, and 5 spots on the court. Their best rebounder is Leslee Smith, who at 6-foot-8 and 255 pounds easily classifies as a brute. Also, as a Junior, he is a little older. But Smith doesn't start for NU, Shavon Shields does and is stretch-4. Their main weapon down low is sophomore Walter Pitchford who is one of the best defensive rebounders in the nation. This is an area that Nebraska has plenty of possibilities.
4. Three-Point shooting – A three-pointer is the game changer in college basketball. You get hot from behind the arc, you can beat any team. It works best when it is not just 1 guy for the favorite to take away, but a collection of guys that can just get going. Plus, at a neutral court, everytime one of those pesky shooters nails a 3, the crowd gets a little happier. It is at its purest form, the ultimate crowd pleaser.
Nebraska – You want shooters? Nebraska has them all over the court. They have 7 players making more than 30% of their 3-point attempts. They have three main guys to watch out for though in Terran Pettway, Ray Gallegos, and Walter Pitchford. Even better for Nebraska, that is their shooting guard, small forward, and center. That is an excellent combination and if more than 1 of those guys gets hot, the Bears could be in trouble.
5. That Swagger – You can call it the "It-Factor". That certain look or feel of a team that right when it steps out onto the court, you know they are going to give it their all. This is the intangible,; the David in the little man looking to slay goliath.
Nebraska – Hard to call a Big-10 team a huge underdog, but Nebraska probably qualifies. This is a team with zero NCAA wins in their history. They have been a basketball wasteland for pretty much their entire history. The best comparison for them might be the Baylor Bears from 1960 till the day that Scott Drew showed up in Waco. But do they have that swagger? Well, Nebraska has won 10 of their past 12 games, but did lose a huge lead to Ohio State in their last game.