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Top 10 Most likely First Round upsets in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament

Publish Date: 03/13/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Top 10

The NCAA Tournament is known for its upsets, and this season may have the most upsets in history. If you watch the conference tournaments, you will understand that talent is much greater and distributed more evenly than before. Today we look at the top ten most likely upsets in round one. If you want to bet on these games, you will want to find the best betting sites to bet on all of the March Madness games.

10) No. 11 Providence Friars vs No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats

John Calipari’s Wildcats lost to Saint Peter’s last year in a 15 over-2 upset that rocked the NCAA tournament. Kentucky has the nation’s top rebounder in Oscar Tshiebwe (13.0 RPG) and has not reached the NCAA tournament’s second round since 2019.

The best way to get Providence is to follow in the footsteps of the Peacocks. They were ranked last year among the teams that shot the least number of 3-pointers per match, but Kentucky could stop them (9-for-17 shooting from 3). Providence doesn’t shoot many three-point shots, but they make them at a rate above average. The Friars have not played well as late though, going 4-6 in their last ten games.

Video: Vanderbilt vs #23 Kentucky Basketball Game Highlights, 2023 SEC Tournament Quarterfinal

Vanderbilt vs #23 Kentucky Basketball Game Highlights, 2023 SEC Tournament Quarterfinal

9) No.13 Kent State Golden Flashes vs No.4 Indiana Hoosiers

In late November, With just 2 minutes and 59 seconds to go, the three by Kent State’s VonCameron tied a game at Alabama at 41-41. In the first half, the Golden Flashes had a 10-point advantage. They lost 49-44. They led Gonzaga by four points with 3:41 remaining before they lost 73-66 to the Bulldogs.

These competitive performances were not accidental. In their 11 last games, the Golden Flashes have a record of 10-1. Sincere Carry (17.3 ppg) is the best player on a team that ranks amongst the top 30 in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. This could pose a problem for a first-round opponent. The Hoosiers have issues at guard, if Jalen Hood-Schifino has a big game the Hoosiers win if he doesn’t…..

Video: Kent State Men's Basketball MAC Tournament Championship vs. Toledo 3.11.23

Kent State Men’s Basketball MAC Tournament Championship vs. Toledo 3.11.23

8) No. 13 Iona Gaels vs No. 4 UConn Huskies

Iona won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for the third time under coach Rick Pitino and the sixth time since 2015-16. It should not be surprising: The Gaels won 14 consecutive games and held opponents to 60 points or less nine times.

The Gaels are able to defend. The Huskies are second in rebound margin (plus-9.1) with a frontcourt that includes Adama Sanogo, a 6-foot-9 forward, and freshmen Alex Karaban and Donovan Clingan. This Iona team is a well-coached veteran team that seems primed to pull an upset.

Video: Marist vs Iona Basketball Game Highlights, 2023 MAAC Championship

Marist vs Iona Basketball Game Highlights, 2023 MAAC Championship

7) No. 12 VCU Rams vs No. 5 Saint Mary’s Gaels

Since the start of the season, the Rams have shown remarkable improvement and even more so in the last month. Adrian Baldwin Jr., a dynamic guard, is an unusual combination of interior defense and steals. The Gaels are a strong defensive team in their own right. VCU has a history of pulling upsets in March madness; with that being said, I would still favor the Gaels but not by much.

Video: Dayton vs VCU Basketball Game Highlights, 2023 Atlantic 10 Championship

Dayton vs VCU Basketball Game Highlights, 2023 Atlantic 10 Championship

6) No. 11 Nevada Wolf Pack vs No. 6 TCU Horned Frogs

It’s something we have seen many times. The selection show shows us a team on the bubble. They then go for a run to reach the second weekend.

Nevada is a team that fits this description. However, the Wolf Pack’s priority will be to get past Arizona State in the First Four. Our model predicts that Nevada will make it to the round of 64. Nevada keeps the turnovers low and rebounds the ball well.

Video: Nevada vs Fresno State Basketball Game Highlights 2 24 2023

Nevada vs Fresno State Basketball Game Highlights 2 24 2023

5) No. 12 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles vs No. 5 Duke Blue Devils

The Oral Roberts coaching staff struggled mightily to schedule significant conference opponents this season. Now the Golden Eagles will face no less a blue-chip name than Duke.

ORU was turned away by power conference programs that didn’t fancy facing a scorer as prolific as Max Abmas. Nor did those potential opponents want much to do with 7-foot-5 Arkansas transfer Connor Vanover. The Golden Eagles own the nation’s lowest turnover percentage, and the Blue Devils don’t record many takeaways. Oral Roberts easily controls the pace of this game.

Video: North Dakota State vs Oral Roberts Basketball Game Highlights, 2023 Summit Championship

North Dakota State vs Oral Roberts Basketball Game Highlights, 2023 Summit Championship

4) No.13 Furman Paladins vs No.4 Virginia Cavaliers

Slow-paced defensive teams are more likely to be upset because of their preferred tempo. Virginia ranks 360th in KenPom’s tempo metric and has been playing very poorly down the stretch.

Furman, Furman’s first round foe, hasn’t been to the dance in over 30 years. However, the Paladins are well-versed with the SoCon Tournament and have had many successful runs in it the past few years. According to KenPom, the Paladins are the 33rd most efficient offense in the country and will be able to put the ball in play long enough to beat the Pack Line defense to advance to Round 32.

Video: Furman men's basketball team on Selection Sunday

Furman men’s basketball team on Selection Sunday

3) No. 12 Charleston Cougars vs No. 5 San Diego State Aztecs

The Cougars did not achieve a record of 31-3. 12 seed by being lucky, this is an outstanding team. Charleston uses a deep rotation led by Head Coach Pat Kelsey. Charleston plays at maximum intensity for the entire 40 minutes.

Brian Dutcher’s team is well-known for its intensity; the Aztecs are the favorite. This is a mid-major team that excels at offensive rebounding. SDSU did a good job on defense in Mountain West play. Charleston played a decent schedule and is a dangerous team for anybody to play.

Video: EXCITING ENDING, CAA CHAMPIONSHIP UNC Wilmington vs Charleston!

EXCITING ENDING, CAA CHAMPIONSHIP UNC Wilmington vs Charleston!

2) No.13 Louisiana Ragin Cajuns vs No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee was ranked highly at the start of this season and started off well. Over the last half of the season, the Vols have struggled. Louisiana is a team that struggled for the middle part of the season, but they finished strong.

They are taking on a Tennessee team that has struggled down the stretch. Jordan Brown, a Nevada transfer who averaged 19.4 points per match this season, is leading the Ragin’ Cajuns. Since Orlando is not a long drive, Louisiana will be represented.

Video: Sun Belt Championship: South Alabama vs. Louisiana | Full Game Highlights

Sun Belt Championship: South Alabama vs. Louisiana | Full Game Highlights

1) No. 12 Drake Bulldogs vs No. 5 Miami Hurricanes

Drake is on an incredible run, winning 16 out of its last 18 games. This includes a 26-point win in the Missouri Valley Conference title match against a good Bradley team. The Bulldogs are 44th in adjusted defensive efficiency and 25th in turnovers. This will make it crucial to hold onto the ball against a Miami team scoring 79.4 points per contest.

The Hurricanes will still need to closely monitor the status of their starting forward Norchad Omier who was injured in the ankle just 1:06 into the Hurricanes’ ACC semifinal loss against Duke. Drake handled Mississippi State 58-52 earlier in the year and this team looks primed to make a splash during March Madness.

Video: Drake vs Bradley Basketball Game Highlights, 2023 Missouri Valley Championship

Drake vs Bradley Basketball Game Highlights, 2023 Missouri Valley Championship

Summary

I feel confident that 4 or 5 of these upsets will occur, and I am sure an upset or two not listed here will also happen. That’s what makes this the most remarkable sports tournament in the world. It’s one and done, and you have to just survive and advance.

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