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March Madness 2022: Ranking The Five Top-Three Seeds That Are On Upset Alert in Round 1

Sizing up which top-three seeds are vulnerable to being upset in the very First Round of the 2022 NCAA March Madness Tournament.
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March Madness 2022: Ranking The Five Top-Three Seeds That Are On Upset Alert in Round 1

Welcome to March, and welcome to MADNESS! On Sunday, the full 68-team bracket was officially unveiled for the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Affectionately known as “March Madness”, the NCAA Tournament delivers year in and year out in terms of excitement, nail-biting finishes, and, of course, upsets! The unpredictability of 68 teams playing in a single-elimination format never fails to deliver some shocking results.

The 2021-22 college basketball season has been set apart by a heightened level of competition and parity all across the country. From the extra year of eligibility offered to student-athletes to the advent of the transfer portal, multiple factors have created an extremely level playing field. While there are well over 20 “good” teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament bracket, it’s hard to make a case that there is even a single “great” team.

The absence of any true juggernauts or championship favorites could very well lead to one of the wildest tournaments ever. No one is safe in March Madness, not even some of the top seeds in the bracket. The following article looks at five top-three seeds in the bracket who are on upset alert in the very first round.  

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Five Top-Three Seeds on Upset Alert in Round 1

Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin may have split the Big Ten regular-season championship, but the Badgers were one-and-done in the conference tournament. Further complicating the team’s outlook is the health of Big Ten Player of the Year, Johnny Davis. Although he played in Wisconsin’s loss to Michigan State in the conference tournament, he was dealing with a lower-body injury coming into the game. Will he be fully healthy by the time the Badgers’ First Round NCAA Tournament game rolls around later this week? Furthermore, does Wisconsin have enough supporting depth to overcome any limitations Davis might have?

Quality guard play is everything in the month of March. In addition, one cannot underestimate the value of experience when it comes to tournament play. Patriot League Champion Colgate has an abundance of each of those things. It was just last year that the Raiders nearly sprung a First Round upset of Arkansas as a 14-seed. Pretty much the entirety of that cast is back in the Big Dance again this season and ready to shake things up. Each of the team’s top-three scoring guards is a senior. Scoring is no issue for Colgate either, as they rank 79th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency with an average of 108.3 points per 100 possessions. After coming so close to slaying a giant last year, could the second time be the charm for the Raiders?

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Purdue Boilermakers

Sticking with the theme of Big Ten vulnerability, 3-seed Purdue is our next top-three seed on upset alert. After all, the conference got a whole squadron of teams into the Big Dance last year too, only to all bow out early on. Matt Painter’s Boilermakers were one of them, losing to North Texas in the very first round. Although Purdue is a top-15 in both the College Basketball NET and KenPom this season, prolonged stays in the NCAA Tournament haven’t exactly come in bunches. 

This year, Purdue will clash with 14-seed Yale in a First Round matchup. Ah, yes, the Ivy League is back in the dance! The Bulldogs actually sprung an upset over a much higher-rated Princeton team in the Ivy League Tournament Final to reach March Madness. Then again, Yale certainly has the goods to be a thorn in Purdue’s side. The Bulldogs bring solid shooting percentages and a strong defensive efficiency ranking to the table. What Yale will cede in terms of size, they can make up for in the form of a savvy and experienced backcourt.

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Auburn Tigers

Bruce Pearl’s Auburn team may have won the SEC regular-season title, but it was far from a pretty close to the year. The Tigers lost two of their final five games to Tennessee and a Florida team that didn’t even make the NCAA Tournament. The same sentiment rings true, albeit undeservingly so, for Texas A&M, who ensured that Auburn only made a one-and-done appearance in the SEC Tournament. Drawing the 2-seed in the Midwest Region might seem safe on paper, but the Tigers clearly have some things to figure out ahead of their First Round matchup.

Speaking of said Round 1 game, Auburn will face Jacksonville State out of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Like the Tigers, JSU also backed its way into the bracket. Thanks to Bellarmine being ineligible for the NCAA Tournament as they continue their transition to Division I, the Gamecocks will represent the ASUN despite losing in the conference tournament semis. That being said, the Gamecocks bring plenty of experience and three-point shooting with them to the dance. The ASUN has sprung its fair share of March Madness upsets in the past as well, with Florida Gulf Coast’s run to the Sweet 16 as a 15-seed being the most famous.

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Tennessee Volunteers

Many people felt that Tennessee got jobbed based on the fact that they only are a 3-seed in the March Madness bracket. After all, Rick Barnes and the Volunteers did just win the SEC Tournament title. Defense has been Tennessee’s calling card all season long. Entering the tournament, they rank third in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom with an average of only 86.2 points allowed per 100 possessions. Where the Vols can get into trouble is on the offensive end. Scoring droughts were a problem at times throughout the season.

In the First Round, Tennessee will take on Big South Tournament Champion Longwood. In fact, this marks the first-ever appearance in March Madness for the Lancers’ program. Longwood throttled perennial conference powerhouse Winthrop in the tournament title game to secure their spot in the field. This will be only the second Quad I opponent that Longwood has faced all season, but they did win four of six Quad III games. With an experienced and talented backcourt, the Lancers cannot be written off entirely.

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Texas Tech Red Raiders

Look, just so we’re clear, Duke should not be a 2-seed. However, the committee not only overseeded the Blue Devils but also gave them a favorable draw, including a First Round game against CSU Fullerton. Thus, we are forced to argue for the final 3-seed, Texas Tech, as potentially being on upset alert. Despite the departure of coach Chris Beard, the Red Raiders continued to be a powerhouse in the Big 12. With tons of talent and added experience coming over via the transfer portal, TTU could very well make a run to the Final Four in March Madness.

But what if they didn’t? Well, the first team with a shot to prevent Texas Tech from going anywhere in the bracket is Montana State. The champions of the Big Sky Conference are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996. Despite some of the metrics working against them, the Bobcats do have a whole lot of chemistry and toughness. They also have plenty of tournament experience as an underdog after reaching the Big Sky title game last year as a 5-seed. In fact, Montana State was a betting underdog even this year as a 1-seed! With Xavier Bishop leading a core of upperclassmen atop the depth chart, perhaps the Bobcats can pull off the unthinkable in Round One of the NCAA Tournament.

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Henry has had a passion for sports that few can match for as long as he can remember. What started out as a five-year-old taking interest in the New York Jets and their green jerseys has since become a full-fledged career as a writer and sports betting analyst. His coverage primarily includes the NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR, college football, and college basketball. In 2020, he ranked among the top-10 most accurate experts ATS in the BettingPros NFL season contest. You can follow Henry’s sports work on Twitter and other social media platforms @HankTimeSports.


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