Best Upset Picks For March Madness 2023

Basketball down the hoop in a match / Markus Spiske

Basketball down the hoop in a match

Alex Sharp, Contributor

With March Madness starting on March 16th, many students across America are on the edge of their seats looking towards their respective schools for results. The NCAA Men’s basketball tournament is one of the most highly anticipated and historically loved sports events of every year, and 2023 will be no different. With many of the classic “Blue Blood” teams such as Kansas, Duke, and Kentucky competing, as well as first-time overall 1-seed Alabama and the revived Marquette program, there are many, many schools that can be crowned champion. Unfortunately, Minnesota is not participating for the third year in a row, and with only three tournament appearances in the last decade, University of Minnesota Senior George Merkt is not surprised.”We can barely recruit in-state talent, and lost most of our best players to the transfer portal.” Those players that he is referring to are none other than Marcus Carr of the 2-seed Texas and Gabe Kalscheur of the 6-seed Iowa State, two teams capable of winning the championship. But the question that remains on everyone’s mind this March is – who are the best upset picks? Making a perfect bracket is nearly impossible, but with some insights, your choices can be quite accurate. My pick for the strongest upset team is 10-seed Utah State, and there is data to back it. First of all, their round-of-64 game against 7-seed Missouri is being played in Sacramento. I’ll call that a home court advantage. Secondly, they have been shooting 40% from three this season, which is the highest percentage in the country. Now, Utah state’s defense is ranked fairly low, especially in transition. But with their confidence from behind the arch and the tournament environment, the Utah State Aggies will be sure to step their defense up against SDSU. Another solid upset pick is 13-seed Kent State over 4-seed Indiana. One of the strongest defensive teams in the country, Kent State has held both Gonzaga and Houston to single digit losses this season, two high seeds this year. Although Indiana is favored and has the leadership of veteran Trayce Jackson-Davis, Kent State’s affinity to hold good teams to close games is an important and decisive quality of good NCAA tournament teams. We’ll take another look here at a 13 and 4 seed matchup in Virginia and Furman. In fact, there’s something special about the 13-4 matchup. In the past four tournaments, 12 out 16 matchups between 4 and 13 seeds were decided by single digits, and last year, all four. This year should be no different. Furman has hovered around top 10 in the nation for points per game with 82.1. They are lead by the Southern Conference player of the year Jalen Slawson, who shot 54% from the field this season. Virgina will certainly be a tough team to beat, but if anyone can do something about it, it’s the strong Furman offense. Now – the moment you’ve all been waiting for – who is the strongest pick to win the tournament. In my eyes, it’s Kansas, Texas, or Alabama. Two of the strongest teams in the tournament, 1-seeds Kansas and Alabama, have high-powered and lethal offenses that have run the NCAA this season. Both teams spent a significant portion of the year in the top-5, with Alabama spending almost every week in the top-3. Kansas led the NCAA in quad-1 wins this season with 17, and had the highest strength of schedule of any team in the NCAA. WIth that being said, Texas beat them by 20 points in the Big 12 championship. To me, that kind of loss may not be a fluke. If you’re looking for a sneaky pick for champion this year, Texas could be your choice. Their strong defensive efficiency is an asset to be reckoned with in a tournament where every basket truly matters. Next year, we can hope for an appearance by the Gophers, but for now, we just have to sit back and enjoy as March Madness unfolds.