March Madness upset predictions 2021: Which 12 seed is most likely to win in first round?

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Let’s begin right here: It’s not loopy to choose a number of 12-over-5 upsets in your bracket. It’s not loopy any 12 months, and it’s particularly not loopy this 12 months. 

First, some historic numbers, beginning with the 1985 event (when the sphere expanded to 64 groups):

35: years not less than one 12 seed pulled off an upset
13: years not less than two 12 seeds pulled off an upset
5: years three 12 seeds pulled off an upset
5: years no 12 seeds pulled off an upset

That’s unbelievable, proper? On the general seed checklist, groups on the 5-seed line are ranked 17-18-19-20. On that very same seed checklist, groups on the 12 seed line are ranked 46-47-48-49. That’s an enormous distinction in high quality of groups. At least, it looks as if it might be. And but, in the 40 years of an expanded bracket, 12 seeds have truly received 35.7 p.c of their video games (50-90).

15 vs. 2 | 14 vs. 3 | 13 vs. 4 | 12 vs. 5

Now, let’s take a look at the 12-vs-5 matchups in the 2021 event. 

12 Winthrop vs. 5 Villanova, South Region

FanDuel odds: Villanova -6, o/u 141

Why this might occur: Look, nothing’s sure in the NCAA Tournament. Especially upsets. The ones that appear like apparent upset picks usually wind up with the upper seed profitable in a blowout. That mentioned, this matchup has just about each single factor you’d search for when selecting an upset. 

Let’s begin with Winthrop. The Eagles are 23-1, which is loopy spectacular, they usually’re taking part in their finest basketball of the season. Here are the profitable margins for Winthrop in the Big South event: 29 factors, 21 factors, 27 factors. The Eagles’ level guard, Chandler Vaudrin, is the lively NCAA chief in profession triple-doubles (eight). Big man D.J. Burns, a former four-star recruit who transferred from Tennessee, scored 22 in the Big South title sport, on 11-of-12 capturing from the sphere. Winthrop runs waves and waves of gamers out regularly — 11 gamers common 11 minutes or extra, however Vaudrin is the one one above 25 per sport — permitting them to drive the tempo and put on groups down. Especially groups coping with damage points (trace, trace). 

And then, there’s Villanova. The Wildcats have been in the 1/2-seed dialog for a very long time, however they don’t seem to be now what they as soon as have been. They’ve performed 4 video games in the previous two-plus weeks and misplaced three of them. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is nonetheless an unbelievable participant able to taking on a sport, little doubt. But senior level guard Collin Gillespie, who averaged 14.0 factors and 4.6 assists per sport and shot 37.6 p.c from 3-point vary, is out with an damage. Justin Moore, who’s averaging greater than a dozen factors, has been coping with a painful ankle sprain. And even when Gillespie and Moore mixed to play 70 minutes at Butler, the Wildcats misplaced on the highway by a dozen. Let’s simply put it this fashion: Most coaches would favor that their workforce is taking part in nicely and absolutely wholesome heading into the NCAA Tournament, and Villanova checks neither of these bins.  

12 Georgetown vs. 5 Colorado, West Region

FanDuel odds: Colorado -4.5, o/u 138

Why this might occur: I haven’t regarded on the numbers, however I’m comparatively assured that there has by no means been a time {that a} “power” convention workforce received its league championship sport by 25 factors and wound up as a 12 seed. And the factor is, that’s most likely the precise seed for the Hoyas, who’re simply 13-12 and had to win all 4 BET video games simply to climb over .500 for the first time since they have been 1-0. But who in their proper thoughts would need to face a workforce that’s taking part in like Georgetown is proper now? 

Look, Colorado is strong. The Buffaloes had received six in a row — together with two Ws towards an excellent USC workforce — earlier than falling to Oregon State in the Pac-12 title sport. But they’re able to hiccups; the Buffs misplaced video games this 12 months to three Pac-12 groups that didn’t even sniff at-large bids (Washington, Utah and California), and may need been a bit overseeded at a 5. 

MORE BRACKET PICKS: DeCourcy (Gonzaga) | (*12*) | Fagan (Gonzaga)

12 UC Santa Barbara vs. 5 Creighton, West Region

FanDuel odds: Creighton -6.5, o/u 139

Why this might occur: Creighton has been an odd workforce this season. There are video games after they look Elite Eight-good — like after they beat Villanova by 16 on Feb. 13 — and video games after they appear like they’re utterly misplaced on the courtroom — just like the Big East title sport, after they misplaced to Georgetown by 25 factors. That hit-or-miss nature is not an ideal trait for a workforce in March, to say the least. And will the awful comments by coach Greg McDermott play a job in distracting the workforce when they need to be targeted solely on the subsequent sport? It’s unimaginable to know for sure, after all, however it’s not unimaginable for that to be the reality. 

And, yeah, UC Santa Barbara is legit. They have been 4-3 at one level early in the season, having dropped back-to-back video games at UC Irvine on the finish of December. Since then, they’re 18-1, and the 18th win was in the Big West title sport towards, you guessed it, UC Irvine. UCSB received that one by 16 factors. They’re balanced, with guard JaQuori McLaughlin main the best way at 16.2 factors per sport on 40.4 p.c capturing from past the 3-point arc. Forwards Amadou Sow and Miles Norris mix to common 23.3 factors and 12.1 rebounds. 

12 Oregon State vs. 5 Tennessee, East Region

FanDuel odds: Tennessee -7.5, o/u 133

Why this might occur: I feel this is the least likely 12-over-5 upset in this 12 months’s bracket, however don’t utterly rely out the Beavers. They chewed up three Pac-12 at-large groups — UCLA, Oregon and Colorado — in the course of the league event to earn the Pac-12’s auto bid. They wouldn’t have made the NCAA Tournament with out it. They love to decelerate the tempo, and that works from time to time in March. Oregon State was 315th in adjusted tempo this 12 months, with a mean of 65.4 possessions per sport. 

Tennessee is actually strong, although. The Vols play a deliberate model of basketball, too — they’re 233rd in tempo, at 67.3 — so controlling the tempo isn’t an enormous benefit for Oregon State. And the Tennessee protection is tenacious; the Vols are fourth in adjusted defensive effectivity (87.0). Those sorts of squads are troublesome to upend in March. 


Which 12 seed is finest guess for an upset?

If you’ve gotten this far, I’m selecting Winthrop. The mixture of how good the Eagles are and Villanova’s current accidents/struggles makes that a straightforward choose. 

If you’re trying on the odds — and also you’re not Han Solo — Georgetown is most likely your finest guess; the unfold in that sport is the smallest (4.5) of any of the 12/5 matchups. 

If you solely choose Pacific Coast time zone groups to win video games, then by all means go together with Oregon State over Tennessee. 

If you’re a believer in potential workforce chemistry points being an issue, you would do worse than selecting Creighton to lose its opener. 

As for a rating, from most likely to least likely: Winthrop, Georgetown, UCSB then, lastly, Oregon State. 

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