Upsets go hand-in-hand with the first round of the NCAA Tournament, as there have been some great ones over the years. They are part of what makes March Madness fun for fans and more profitable for savvy bettors. Last year there were eight first-round upsets, not including No. 9 Wisconsin’s win over No. 8 North Carolina. There are bound to be more this year, just as there are every March.
Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there has been an average of 6.2 first-round upsets, per NCAA.com, whose analysis does not include 8 vs. 9 games. The two first-round upsets in 2007 were the fewest over this span, and a whopping 10 in the 2016 version of March Madness are the most.
Of course, knowing upsets will happen is one thing; predicting which ones will occur and betting them successfully at your favorite sportsbooks is another.
2022 March Madness Upset Alert
These should all be great games, but do not be shocked if a few of these underdogs pull out a win in the first round:
No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 15 Jacksonville State
Spread: Auburn -15.5
Auburn has a championship-caliber defense, which will make scoring a challenge for Jacksonville State. However, it’s hard to trust the Tigers’ offense to hold up its end. In a loss to Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament, Auburn shot 30.4 percent from the floor, 25 percent from three-point range, and 61.1 percent from the free-throw line.
No. 4 Providence vs. No. 13 South Dakota State
Spread (BetMGM): Providence -2.5
South Dakota State enters the Tournament riding a 21-game winning streak. As a middling defensive team, Providence could have trouble keeping up with the No. 2 scoring offense in the country. The Friars’ slow pace of play could cost them should they fall behind early.
No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 12 Indiana
Point spread: Saint Mary’s -3
Saint Mary’s is a giant killer, closing out the regular season with a big win over Gonzaga. However, the Gaels face an Indiana team coming off a red-hot showing in the Big Ten Tournament followed by a 66-58 win as 4.5-point favorites over Wyoming on Tuesday.
A play-in (First Four) team has won a first-round game in nine of the last 10 years.
No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech
Point spread (BetMGM): Texas -1.5
The Hokies won the ACC Tournament in dominant fashion against the mighty Duke Blue Devils in the championship game. Texas continued its late-season slide by losing to TCU in its Big 12 Tournament opener, giving the Longhorns five losses in their last nine games.
No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 13 Chattanooga
Point spread (DraftKings): Illinois -7.5
Illinois struggled down the stretch and was one-and-done in the Big Ten Tournament, losing to Indiana. Chattanooga is a solid team that plays well on both sides of the court. If the Illini stumble out of the gate, it would not be too surprising to see Illinois fall.
Other Potential First-Round Upsets
The following games belong on our March Madness upset alert as well. These are contests where an upset is possible, but the underdog will need a few things to go its way for it to happen:
- No. 6 LSU (-4) vs. No. 11 Iowa State
- No. 7 Ohio State (-1) vs. No. 10 Loyola-Chicago
- No. 4 Arkansas (-5) vs. No. 13 Vermont
Also read: March Madness bracket tips | March Madness sportsbook bonuses | Six-figure bets at DraftKings | NCAA Tournament first-round betting lines | Futures odds for all 68 teams | Women’s tourney odds | How to read March Madness odds