5 First-Round Upsets Waiting To Happen

March Madness wouldn’t be the madness without the upsets. Now obviously, upsets have a lower chance of happening on their own, but we know some are going to happen so let’s take a look at some of the matchups that could provide us the madness this year.

10 Maryland over 7 UConn

Maryland is pretty similar to UConn in terms of a team that likes to play slow and centered around a great defense. UConn’s offense runs with James Bouknight, when he missed time this year, they were a different team. Maryland has more options and look like a more complete team. They’ve been through the Big Ten gauntlet and came out with wins over Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Rutgers and Purdue. This should be a great game, but Maryland has the cards to win if they play it right.

10 Rutgers over 7 Clemson

Two top 20 defenses go at it here. Both offenses have struggled at times, but Rutgers has more options and better wins on the season (Illinois, Purdue, Michigan State, Maryland). Rutgers is the better team here. Most models give Rutgers around a 55% chance here.

12 Winthrop over 5 Villanova

The first reason here is to look to fade Villanova. Villanova is missing their first team all Big East point guard Collin Gillespie and his backcourt mate Justin Moore missed the Big East Tournament with a severe ankle spring. We haven’t yet heard if he’ll be able to play in this one. The other side of this upset is Winthrop. The Eagles are 23-1 and will give the Wildcats all they can handle. Chandler Vaudrin does it all for the Eagles and DJ Burns Jr took over the Big South Championship game. Although they haven’t faced any top teams this year, this is a team to take a hard look at against a team struggling to play without their team leader.

14 Abilene Christian over 3 Texas

Abilene Christian is 23-4, two of those losses to Arkansas and Texas Tech. They won their conference championship game 79-45. Both of these teams are top 30 defenses and Abilene Christian forces more turnovers than any team in the country! Texas is 236th in the country in offensive turnover percentage so this could pose a problem here. The Longhorns haven’t had much success in the NCAA Tournament in the past and they may have their hands full this year. Not to mention Abilene Christian does have a 7-foot center in Kolten Kohl who leads them in scoring at 12.3 points per game.

14 Colgate over 3 Arkansas

Both these teams like to play really fast, but Colgate has shown an ability to do it without turning the ball over this year. Only Iowa, Villanova and Wisconsin turn the ball over less often than Colgate in this year’s field. Colgate is 14-1 this year and haven’t played any non-conference games, which is another weird aspect to include in this weird season. Colgate can stay in the game with threes, they gave Tennessee all they could handle as a 15 seed two tournaments back and they’re back for more this year.

There’s plenty of other intriguing matchups as well. 11 Utah State vs 6 Texas Tech should be a defensive battle, 12 UC-Santa Barbara is another hot upset pick over 5 Creighton. Creighton has a lot going on with what’s going on with Coach Greg McDermott, if they’re not focused UCSB is can pull this upset. Creighton is coming off a 73-48 loss in in the Big East Tournament Final. 13 Liberty is another one to consider, but with 4 Oklahoma State playing well it could be tough to fade them. Liberty will live with the three-ball.

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