Upsets to Consider so your March Madness Bracket isn’t Busted


The 2019 NCAA Tournament Bracket

Jacob Chaimovitch, Editor

March Madness is upon us. Another year of submitting brackets and tearing your hair out regarding who moves on, who falls early, and who wins it all. One big factor in a busted bracket is the Upset. An upset is a lower seed defeating a higher seed. In the Round of 64, the most upsets occur frequently and famously. Take the 16 UMBC victory over 1 Virginia last year or 2 Michigan State’s fall to 15 Middle Tenn in 2016 as a few examples. Here are three upsets to consider penciling in and three to go against the underdog.

Upset that will happen: 12 Oregon over 5 Wisconsin

The 2019 Pac-12 champion Oregon Ducks have been talked about over and over again for ‘stealing’ a bid from someone by getting an automatic bid by winning the tournament in the first place. However, they didn’t get there by accident at all. They cruised past Washington State and Utah to get to the Pac-12 semis. After an overtime slugfest with Arizona State (we’ll get to them soon), the Ducks thumped the Washington Huskies to become the Pac-12 champs. Their top scorer and rebounder, Bol Bol, has been outstanding this season. They look to take advantage of a Wisconsin Badgers team that hasn’t gotten much going since wins against Michigan and Maryland.

Upset to avoid: 12 New Mexico State over 5 Auburn

Don’t count on New Mexico State to pull off the upset here. Their history in the First Round is not spectacular. The last time they won in the first round was 1993. They aren’t exactly playing a walk-in-the-park team either. The Auburn Tigers won the SEC championship after mowing through Tennessee, a 2 seed in the tournament, in the championship game. They’ve been red hot recently and are likely the reason Tennessee is not a 1 seed. A valiant effort by the Aggies but expect a one-sided affair.

Upset that will happen: 11 Belmont over 6 Maryland

This depends on a few things happening. For starters, Belmont needs to win against Temple on Tuesday during the First Four. They are certainly capable of doing this and, if they get there, are capable of defeating a weak Maryland team. Belmont defeated projected 3rd overall pick Ja Morant and Murray State near the end of January and went 16-2 in conference play. While I don’t have them going further in the bracket, Belmont could make a run in the tournament and can certainly beat both Temple and Maryland in the span of two days.

Upset to Avoid: 13 Northeastern over 4 Kansas

This seems like an obvious thought to have: Don’t pick against Kansas. But, I legitimately spent a good 10 minutes thinking about who to pick in this match up. Kansas collapsed against Iowa State in the Big XII championship, losing by 12. Going 12-6 in conference play and losing to unranked teams like West Virginia, Texas, and Kansas State have made the Jayhawks look more vulnerable than usual for a First Round upset. The question becomes: Can Northeastern pull off the upset? The answer becomes: No. Northeastern’s only match against a ranked team was a thumping at the hands of Virginia Tech. The Huskies just don’t have the firepower to dance with a big name school like Kansas.

Upset that will happen: 12 Murray State over 5 Marquette

This is going to be fun. Of all the first round matches, this is the one I am the most excited for. Ja Morant is set to be the third overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, right behind Duke’s Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. Morant is balling, and so is Marquette’s Markus Howard. While Howard is averaging more points this season – 25.0 PPG to Morant’s 24.6 – Morant is averaging 10.0 assists per game, way more than Howard’s 4.0 APG. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index has Marquette with a 66.5% chance to win. That won’t happen. Expect a slugfest between two offensive firepowers and expect Murray State to earn a spot in the Round of 32.

Upset to avoid: 6 Buffalo over 11 Arizona State

The Sun Devils win their First Four match up against St. Johns. Let’s get that out of the way. But, they fall to Buffalo. This match could truly swing either way if and when Arizona State wins and moves to face Buffalo. The Bulls finished the season at 31-3; only Houston had the same record as them. Ending the season ranked 15th in the nation by the Selection Committee, they blew past the Mid-American Conference and marched into a 6 seed in the NCAA bracket. While Buffalo is hoping Arizona State falls in the First Four like last year, it’s likely that they will have to take down an Arizona State team that found its stride before falling to Oregon in OT in the Pac-12 semis. Expect a great match up, but Buffalo should get the upper hand.