March Madness upset predictions 2021: Underdogs most likely to bust your bracket in the first round

Everybody desires to win their March Madness bracket pool, however if you cannot take house the massive prize, the subsequent most gratifying factor is looking a first-round upset. Even when you choose 10 underdogs to the second round and just one advances, you possibly can nonetheless gloat about that choose each March for the subsequent decade. Obviously, the bragging rights improve as the seed will get larger, however even calling a 7-10 upset in the NCAA Tournament appears like an accomplishment.

Simply put, it is extra enjoyable to choose upsets. If you stare at your bracket lengthy sufficient, you possibly can persuade your self that just about each recreation is a toss-up. Of course, the larger seed is far more likely to win in the first round, however going out on a limb with just a few daring picks is what March Madness is all about.

How do you determine which underdogs to truly pull the set off on? There are quite a lot of methods, from looking at advanced stats to listening to the experts to merely guessing, however one underutilized methodology is taking a look at the Vegas odds. 

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You usually hear some variation of “Vegas knows something we don’t” when individuals are speaking about video games. That often refers to a degree unfold being smaller or bigger than anticipated. If two seemingly disparate groups have only a three-point unfold, that often tells you Vegas thinks the recreation shall be comparatively shut. That would not all the time occur, after all — top-seed Virginia was a 20.5-point favourite over 16-seed UMBC again in 2018 — nevertheless it’s nonetheless a great tool when looking for upset picks. 

With that in thoughts, beneath we provide up a few of the most notable level spreads for double-digit seeds, beginning with the lone double-digit favourite, Rutgers.

MORE: Get your printable NCAA Tournament bracket here

March Madness upset predictions 2021

Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook

No. 10 RUTGERS (-1) vs. No. 7 Clemson

A ten-seed beating a 7-seed is not actually that massive of an upset, nevertheless it nonetheless appears like one if you take a look at your bracket and see a double-digit seed in the second round (or past). Rutgers being favored is not a shock, as these groups are each in the “mediocre” camp, no less than so far as event groups go. The Scarlet Knights are ranked thirty fourth on in contrast to Clemson at 42, and TeamRankings has Rutgers barely larger in its energy rankings. 

Overall, that is just about a toss-up, however given the chance that extra individuals choose the 7-seed than the 10, it is a uncommon scenario the place there’s worth in going with the favourite. You can read more about this matchup here

MORE: Break down every matchup with TeamRankings Predictor Tool

No. 10 VIRGINIA TECH (+1) vs. No. 7 Florida

Here’s one other 7-10 recreation that is a digital toss-up. Virginia Tech has performed simply three video games since Feb. 6 — two of which it misplaced — so you possibly can’t actually say the Hokies are “hot” or “cold.” They are rested, although. Florida is 5-5 in its previous 10 video games, so it is also fairly lukewarm. Ultimately, this seems like a forgettable recreation, however because you’re making an attempt to win you bracket, you don’t need to get it mistaken.

Vegas sees this as a nail-biter, and regardless of each and TeamRankings favoring Florida by pretty comfy margins, this can be a respectable alternative to steal a recreation on most individuals in your pool. 

No. 10 MARYLAND (+2.5) vs. No. 7 UConn is far larger on UConn than Maryland, so it’s kind of stunning Vegas sees this as one among the closest first-round matchups. TeamRankings breaks it down fairly favorably for UConn, too, as you possibly can see beneath. Once once more, although, Vegas clearly sees one thing we do not.

As we mentioned earlier than, no 7-10 final result would actually be a stunning upset, however that is one other scenario the place most individuals in your pool will in all probability default to UConn, particularly in the event that they do any analysis. That offers you a chance to choose up a recreation on most of your pool in a contest that may likely come down to a basket both method.


No. 11 UTAH STATE (+4.5) vs. No. 6 Texas Tech

The Aggies had been one among the final groups in the event, however successful six of their remaining seven video games helped them into the dance. Vegas thinks they’re going to cling tight with Texas Tech, likely due to Utah State’s stellar protection (ranked eighth in’s adjusted defense metric). Both groups wrestle taking pictures from deep, so this may very well be an actual rock struggle. In that form of grind-it-out recreation, the defensive-minded underdog all the time has an honest shot. 

TeamRankings overwhelmingly has all “win odds” components in Texas Tech’s favor, however that is not stunning for a 6-11 matchup. However, it is clear from even their numbers that Utah State has a superior protection. This one might go both method, so even when you choose Texas Tech, you in all probability don’t need to choose the Red Raiders going additional than the second round.

No. 12 GEORGETOWN (+4.5) vs. No. 5 Colorado

Georgetown’s unlikely run to the event thanks to a Big East championship actually stunned many, however now that the Hoyas are in they usually’re taking part in effectively, individuals are prepared to leap aboard the bandwagon. The reality they’re taking part in a Pac-12 group that is not a natioinal energy in all probability has bettors driving this line down, however both method, this shall be a preferred 12-5 upset choose (not as in style as Winthrop, who’s a 6.5-point underdog, over a banged-up Villanova, however nonetheless in style). 

Should it’s? Well, would not suppose the groups are notably shut, rating Colorado seventeenth and Georgetown fifty fifth. TeamRankings appears to like the Hoyas somewhat extra, however not a lot. This is extra about going with the “hot” group, and Vegas no less than expects it to be shut. 

No. 13 LIBERTY (+7.5) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma State

There are in all probability extra individuals predicting Oklahoma State to make the Final Four than lose in the first round, however make no mistake — Liberty will put up a struggle. The Flames completed tied for tenth in the nation in three-point share (38.8), and any underdog that may fill it up from deep generally is a drawback in the event. 

Oklahoma State is the superior team and has a one-man wrecking crew in freshman Cade Cunningham, however this recreation having only a 7.5-point unfold would possibly shock some individuals. If you are in a giant pool and want to make a daring choose or two, this can be a good alternative to zig whereas everybody else zags. 

No. 13 OHIO (+7.5) vs. No. 4 Virginia

This unfold is perhaps extra about Virginia than Ohio. Most of Virginia’s group is in quarantine after optimistic COVID checks inside the progam. At greatest, the Cavs may have a barely thinned-out roster after per week of simply digital practices; at worst, Virginia will withdraw from the event. A center choice — one or two stars out after per week of no follow — can be in play. Either method, Ohio has a bonus. 

Ohio has a legit offense that may put factors on the board in a rush (14th in points per game). If Virginia is undermanned, then a Bobcats victory would not be a giant shock. Vegas sees this as a comparatively shut 4-13 recreation, so keep on high of the information out of Charlottesville and choose accordingly. 

No. 14 ABILENE CHRISTIAN (+9) vs. Texas

A nine-point unfold is not precisely slim, however something lower than 10 in a 3-14 recreation is considerably notable. Abilene-Christian is understood for having a strong protection (thirtieth in‘s adjusted protection metric), nevertheless it’s additionally an environment friendly three-point taking pictures group (tied for 21st at 37.7). The 3-and-D underdogs are all the time harmful in March. Texas is not notably nice at one factor — simply usually strong and well-coached — so it would not actually have something to “fall back on” if issues go south early. 

Obviously, selecting the Longhorns is the safer play, nevertheless it’s not loopy to choose the Wildcats when you’re in a giant pool and want some differentiation. 

No. 14 COLGATE (+9.5) vs. Arkansas

Colgate is all offense, all the time. The Raiders had been fourth in average margin of victory this 12 months (17.7) and third in three-point percentage (40.2). The Hogs can get after it on protection and play with a strong tempo on offense, so Colgate will not have the opportunity to run throughout them like they are a Patriot League group, nevertheless it’s straightforward to think about a state of affairs the place the Raiders merely by no means appear to miss and pull off an upset. 

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