March Madness Upset Picks: Top 3 Predictions for Upsets in Round of 64
March Madness Upset Picks: Top 3 Predictions for Upsets in Round of 64
In the NCAA tournament, there are a few higher seeds who are favorites so for the purpose of this article, all upsets will be considered betting underdogs. I have pinpointed three teams including a 13 seed, who I believe can all pull upsets in round one.
Creighton vs San Diego St
Creighton got off to a rocky start this year as they actually struggled in games vs Kennesaw St and Arkansas Pine Bluff, but they have finally hit their stride. They are 9-3 over their last 12 games against Big East competition including very impressive wins over Marquette (By 11), Providence (By 27), and narrow wins over Uconn and St Johns by a bucket.
They very nearly took down Villanova in the Big East championship game as well as they actually had a lead with 4 minutes left in the game but couldn’t hold on. Creighton has been very hot and cold this year as their offense has been very hit or miss this season. On the year, Creighton is currently ranked 124th in adjusted offensive efficiency, 305th in offensive turnover percentage, and 314th in 3-point shooting as a team so they have struggled with turnovers and knocking down outside shots.
Where they have excelled on offense is from 2-point range as they are 39th in the country on offensive 2-point percentage as they shoot 53.9% from 2-point range. Creighton has a lot of size and length and think they will cause a lot of problems for SDSU on the offensive end. Creighton’s main scoring threats have been D2 transfer Ryan Hawkins and Duke transfer, Alex O’Connell.
Overall, Creighton has played the tougher schedule and they are playing better basketball at the moment, so I have to give them the nod here. I think this will be an extremely close game, but I simply don’t see SDSU pulling away and winning this game by multiple possessions. Creighton is an extremely well-coached team who runs more efficient offense than SDSU and I think that will be the difference in this contest. My lean for this game is Creighton +2.5/ML and to the UNDER 120 as my final score prediction would be 57-54 Creighton.
- Lean: Creighton ML +120 (Bet $100 to win $120)
Marquette vs UNC
Marquette is a team who got off to a very solid start this season with wins over Illinois, Ole Miss, and West Virginia. They then cooled off a bit as they lost six of their next nine games with only one of those games being by six points or less. To be honest I am very surprised Marquette even made the tournament, let alone as a nine seed. They have played very poorly over the last month and a half as they are 4-6 over their last 10 games including losses to DePaul, Butler, and three losses to Creighton this season.
Marquette did notch two impressive wins over Villanova both times they played which is probably why they made the tournament. The Big East was a war of attrition this season and Marquette was basically right in the middle of the pack. Marquette is a team who plays at a very fast pace as they are fifth in the nation in lowest average time of possession at 15.2 seconds per touch.
They were fairly solid on offense as they rank 66th in offensive effective FG%, 61st in 2-point%, and 62nd in overall adjusted offensive efficiency. Defense is probably the strong suit of their team however as they are ranked 46th in defensive efficiency, 39th in defensive effective FG%, and 40th in defensive 2-point percentage. The team that most resembles North Carolina that Marquette played this season is probably either St Johns or Illinois who Marquette had solid success against in both games.
This was one of the more difficult games to handicap but I think Marquette has a slight edge in this game. UNC really struggled away from home this season as they were just 1-4 on a neutral court this season and got blown out in nearly all of those games. Their only win was in the first round of the ACC tournament against a Virginia team who struggles to score. Marquette is the better defensive team and UNC has played much better in an underdog role this season.
I think Marquette will thrive in the underdog role here so my lean for this game is MARQUETTE +3/ML and think OVER 151 has some value as I think this will be a 83-78 type of game with how fast each team plays on the offensive end and think Marquette can pull the upset here.
- Lean: Marquette ML +150 (Bet $100 to win $150)
Illinois vs Chattanooga
This is a very interesting matchup and I think Illinois got a very tough draw here. Illinois comes into this game with a record of 22-9 but they have struggled over the last two months of the season. They are just 9-6 over their last 15 games including losses to Maryland, Rutgers, and Indiana.
They also nearly lost to Penn St, Iowa, Michigan St, and Northwestern so they are fairly lucky to have their record where it is today. Illinois has been solid offensive team this season as they are ranked 23rd in offensive efficiency, 47th in effective FG%, 35th in offensive rebounding%, and 40th in 3-point shooting.
Kofi Cockburn is a first-team All-American and the undisputed best player on this Illinois team who will need to have a big game for them to advance. Cockburn is an absolute load on the inside and I’m not sure there is a more physically imposing big man in the country than him.
The positive thing for Chattanooga is that they have highly touted high school prospect and Kansas Transfer, Silvio De Sousa on the inside to defend Cockburn. Illinois has also been solid on defense this season, but they have struggled with forcing turnovers as they are ranked just 325th in defensive turnover%.
They have defended the paint very well as they are ranked 28th in defensive 2-point% and are slightly above average at defending without fouling. I think Illinois could be in trouble here as Chattanooga is a very solid defensive team with a ton of experience. They also have an elite offensive player in David Jean Baptiste who nailed a 40 foot 3-pointer at the buzzer in the SoCon Championship game to send his team to the big dance.
Chattanooga comes into this game as champions of the SoCon, and they have been a very consistent mid-major all season. They are 27-7 on the season and haven’t lost a game by more than 11 points all season so they don’t get blown out very easily. Chattanooga has been a very good defensive team as they are ranked 36th in defensive 3-point% but have struggled to defend the paint as they are ranked just 272nd in defensive 2-point% this season.
Illinois is a team who has actually heavily relied on the 3-point shot for offensive production as 36.5% of their offense comes from 3-pointers which is 56th in the nation. Only 46.1% of Illinois’s offensive production comes from 2-point baskets which is 304th so the fact that Chattanooga isn’t the best at defending the paint may not come back to hurt them.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Mocs are ranked 58th in adjusted offensive efficiency, 48th in offensive rebounding%, 41st in 2-point%, and are a middle of the pack 3-point shooting team ranked at 153rd. Chattanooga defeated Furman in SoCon play this year three times which is extremely hard to do given how well Furman was playing at the time and I think the Mocs of Chattanooga got a favorable matchup. Illinois can be very inconsistent with turnovers and ill-advised threes and if they aren’t knocking down shots, I think the door is wide open for Chattanooga to pull an upset here.
I think Chattanooga can keep this game close throughout with their ability to defend at a high level. Illinois isn’t playing their best basketball and Chattanooga is long and athletic enough to keep them at bay. The main concern for Chattanooga is obviously defending Cockburn in the paint but if he gets in foul trouble for any point of the game, that advantage is gone and think the Mocs will take advantage of their opportunities. My strong lean for this game is CHATTANOOGA +8 -106 and my final score prediction for this game is 67-65 Chattanooga so I’d sprinkle on the ML as well and I also slightly lean to the UNDER 136.5.
- Lean: Chattanooga +8 (-106) (Bet $106 to win $100)
Joey has spent the last 6+ years betting on sports with a focus on basketball and baseball. Basketball is his main focus, and not many people know more about mid-major basketball than him. Whether you need advice on a Saturday night primetime game or a Tuesday night back-alley SWAC/MEAC game, Joey is your man.