One of the most fun things to do in March Madness is pick the upsets. Everyone’s bracket is bound to be busted at some point, but if you called a 14 to beat a 3 or a few 12-5 upsets and have the receipts to back it up, you will earn a few nods of approval and the title of ‘basketball guru’ around your office. We’re here to help and below you’ll find some upsets to watch out for on Thursday and Friday. All lines are courtesy of offshore sportsbook BetDSI.
#14 Vermont Catamounts +388 vs. #3 Florida State Seminoles
It’s been a while since the Seminoles were last upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but they nearly lost as a No. 3 seed in both 2012 and 2017. FSU beat St. Bonaventure by just three points in 2012 and knocked off Florida Gulf Coast by six points two years ago.
Scoring has been a consistent problem for the Seminoles. Even though this is traditionally one of the most athletic teams in the country and they play very good defense, FSU’s offense is terribly mediocre. The Seminoles have an effective field goal percentage of 50.7 percent, which puts them in the middle of the pack, and they can’t hit the three if they fall behind.
Vermont has been in this position before. The Catamounts have only won one NCAA Tournament game in their history, but everyone in The Green Mountain State will remember TJ Sorrentine’s deep triple to help lead Vermont past Syracuse in 2005. This might be Vermont’s best team since then. They are in the top half of the country in most offensive categories, and they don’t turn the ball over. The key will be making sure FSU doesn’t steamroll them on the glass, but if they can do that, they are in prime position to pull off the upset.
#11 Belmont Bruins +145 vs. #6 Maryland Terrapins
The Bruins showed they belonged in March Madness after a comfortable win over Temple on Tuesday night, and they have a great chance to pull off the upset here and keep it rolling. Belmont should not have been forced to play in the play-in game given their resume this season, but failing to get the OVC’s automatic bid after losing to Murray State in the conference title game left them on the bubble.
This team can get easy buckets. Belmont has the third-best effective field goal percentage in the country, and the Bruins don’t turn the ball over.
Meanwhile, Maryland ended the season on a sour note and those are usually the teams you want to stay away from come tournament time. The Terrapins are one of the youngest teams in the country, and they might just be out of gas. They are 6-7 in their last 13 games and have lost to Illinois, Penn State, and Nebraska.
#12 Murray State Racers +155 vs. Marquette Golden Eagles
Ja Morant is the only thing you need to know about this pick. Morant is certain to be a top ten pick in the NBA Draft in a few months, and he is one of the most exciting players in the country. He can consistently get off his own shot, and Marquette wasn’t a great defensive team this season. Shaq Buchanan is another player to watch on the Racers, and he is one of the better defensive players in the country.
#12 Oregon Ducks +107 vs. Wisconsin Badgers
The Ducks won their way into the NCAA Tournament by winning the PAC 12 Championship Game, and now everyone is jumping on the Oregon bandwagon. They would have likely been a Top 20 team this season if they had Bol Bol for the entire year, and it took some time for them to put it together once he was ruled out for the season.
This game is being played in San Jose, and Wisconsin has not been that reliable of a team. The Badgers do play very good defense, but there isn’t a reliable scorer on the roster aside from Ethan Happ.
#13 UC Irvine Anteaters +177 vs. Kansas State Wildcats
UC Irvine was the best school you didn’t hear of this season. A lot of people might pick them when they find out their mascot is the Anteater, but this is a team that went 30-5 and ended the season with 16 straight wins. They beat other tournament teams like Saint Mary’s and Montana and they are the best team in the country at defending two-pointers, allowing opponents to hit just 40.6 percent of their twos. I think they have a great shot of beating Kansas State and the winner of Oregon/Wisconsin to make the Sweet 16.
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