Correctly making March Madness upset predictions might be the most satisfying part of playing in an NCAA Tournament pool. Deciding which upset picks to make for the 2023 NCAA Tournament won’t be easy, but knowing the history of lower seeds in March Madness can improve your chances of finding winners.
Upset predictions for March Madness brackets should always include teams seeded No. 10, No. 11 seeds and No. 12. With a 104-68 record against No. 7 seeds in NCAA Tournament history, No. 10 seeds win their first-round matchup at a 39.5% clip. No. 11 seeds pull off the upset against No. 6 seeds 37.5% of the time. The No. 12 seeds are usually among the popular upset picks, beating No. 5 seeds in one-third of their March Madness matchups.
No. 13 over No. 4 upsets aren’t as common, but they’ve been occurring more and more. In three of the last five NCAA Tournaments, at least one No. 13 seed has advanced to the second round.
One team isn’t necessarily better than its opponent simply because it’s seeded higher in March Madness. Betting odds are a much better indication than seeding of how opponents will perform against one another.
Let’s take a look at some March Madness upset predictions to make in the first round of your 2023 NCAA bracket.
No. 10 vs. No. 7 Upset Pick: Utah State over Missouri
No 10 Utah State is seeded lower than No. 7 Missouri, but the odds favor the Aggies to advance. Utah State is a 1.5-point favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook over Missouri in their first-round game. The Aggies are 26-8. Utah State won seven straight games by at least nine points before losing to a good San Diego State team in the Mountain West Championship Game.
Both Utah State and Missouri average close to 80 points per game. It should be a high-scoring affair. With five players who average double-digit points per game, the Aggies have the offensive firepower to pull off the upset.
No. 11 vs. No. 6 Upset Pick: Providence over Kentucky
In all but one NCAA Tournament since 2000, at least one No. 11 seed has beaten a No. 6 seed. There are a few reasons to believe that Kentucky will be the team that helps that trend continue. Kentucky suffered a first-round upset last year as a No. 2 seed, John Calipari’s team last won an NCAA Tournament game in 2019. The Wildcats have lost two of their last three games. Four of Kentucky’s last five losses have come against teams that were left off the March Madness bracket.
Providence has two double-digit scorers who were part of last year’s team that reached the Sweet 16. Kentucky is only a 3.5-point favorite.
No. 12 vs. No. 5 Upset Pick: Drake over Miami
Despite finishing first in the ACC regular-season standings, Miami is primed for a March Madness upset. The Hurricanes are only 2.5-point favorites. Miami is 2-2 in its last four games. Senior Norchad Omier was Miami’s leading rebounder in 25 of 31 games before he played just one minute in the team’s last contest because of an ankle injury. It’s unknown if Omier will return against Drake.
Drake won the MVC Championship over a week ago, giving them plenty of time to rest up for the first round. The Bulldogs are 13-1 in their last 14 games. They rank 23rd in the country in defensive efficiency.
No. 13 vs. No. 4 Upset Pick: Kent State over Indiana
The Hoosiers are only slight 4.5-point favorites. On its way to winning the MAC Championship, Kent State pushed multiple national championship contenders to the limit. NCAA Tournament favorite Houston barely held off Kent State 49-44, and the Golden Flashes had a chance to tie the game with 13 seconds left. Kent State had a four-point lead on Gonzaga with a little more than three minutes remaining before the Bulldogs escaped with a victory.
Indiana might not be so lucky to survive a scare. The Hoosiers are 4-4 in their last eight games. Kent State ranks 20th in defensive efficiency. There are 95 teams that score more points per game than Indiana.