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NCAA Tournament Upset Watch: Gonzaga, Duke Among Vulnerable High Seeds

03/18/2013 11:36 am ET | Updated May 18, 2013

While being on one of the top four lines of seeding in the NCAA Tournament is helpful, it doesn't mean a team is invulnerable. Last year, for the first time ever, two No. 2 seeds, Duke and Missouri), lost in the first round. It's never easy to pick a massive upset like that, but you should be prepared as you're filling out that bracket.

Here is a look at six high seeds on upset alert during the first weekend.

Michigan State (3)

Not the best draw for Tom Izzo's club. Valpo, its first-round opponent, is battle tested and extremely well coached with Bryce Drew. Assuming it does advance, Sparty has a potential nightmare opponent in Middle Tennessee State, who should beat St. Mary's in the play-in game, and Memphis as well. The Blue Raiders are almost a carbon copy of the Spartans: a junior- and senior-laden club that can rebound (30th in offensive rebounding rate, per Ken Pomeroy) and defend (21st in adjusted defensive efficiency).

Gonzaga (1)

The Zags are one of my picks to reach the Final Four, but a potential second-round matchup looms with either Pittsburgh or Wichita State, two extremely capable teams. Pitt, as usual, is very tough in a one-game format because of how it defends and rebounds. Wichita doesn't have one go-to guy, but is a highly balanced unit that can beat anybody on a given night. The Zags haven't played anybody other than St. Mary's since the non-conference and this will be a wake-up call in the round of 32.

ncaa tournament upsets

Mike Krzyzewski's Duke Blue Devils face immediate danger in this year's NCAA Tournament

Duke (2)

Watch out, Blue Devils. Creighton, a dangerous 7 seed, looms in the second round. Doug McDermott might be the best player in the country, and Creighton, which has an exceptional coach in McDermott's dad, will grind out Duke in the half-court for 40 minutes. Duke has lost just once with Ryan Kelly, but gives up an average of nearly 20 points per game or more versus the BPI top 100.

Kansas State (4)

K-State has been a nice story this season with first-year coach Bruce Weber, but it's in serious danger right off the bat. La Salle, which should beat Boise State in the First Four, spreads teams out with a brutally quick four-guard lineup. The Explorers are 5-1 on the season in games decided by three points or fewer.

Marquette (3)

This is a tough matchup for Davidson (14), but De'Mon Brooks and 6-foot-10 Jake Cohen, the two-time Southern Conference Player of the Year, are both terrific and highly capable of taking over this game. Davidson has won 17 straight and is no stranger to the tournament with head coach Bob McKillop, a proven winner at this level. Marquette plays very physical, Big East-style basketball and can overwhelm the smaller Davidson guards, but this is going to be close.

New Mexico (3)

After it beats Harvard in the first round, the Lobos (a team I really like, by the way) face either Arizona or Belmont in the round of 32. Belmont, which I'm picking in the upset over Arizona, is a team that will spread a team out for 40 minutes and force the defense to stop the three. If New Mexico, which loves to run, suffers a subpar shooting night, this could be one of the biggest upsets of the first weekend.

Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report.