Free NCAA Basketball Tournament Picks: Round 1 Upset Selections

Willie Bee

Monday, March 14, 2016 12:54 PM GMT

We know they're coming because they always do this time of year. Upsets will once again be part of March Madness, and we've got a few NCAA basketball picks that fit the definition.

Among several definitions of the word upset according to Merriam-Webster are these: "to force out of its usual or proper position, to throw into disorder, to defeat unexpectedly." College basketball bettors and fans just call it March Madness, since the unexpected has become expected.

The Selection Committee charged with putting the NCAA Men's Tournament in its proper position, at least initially, has spoken and given us the Field of 68 for this year's event.  As we've learned in the past, however, the bracket is practically built to supply upsets on the hardwood which, of course, leads to a lot of upset stomachs either filling out brackets or once a giant is felled by a Cinderella.

No matter how anyone defines upset with regards to the tournament -- either a lower seed winning outright or an underdog at least covering the NCAA tournament odds -- we now have 52 potential upsets this week, beginning with the First Four games and continuing to the Field of 64 before, finally, the Sweet 16 get determined in weekend contests.

 

Seeded 11th, 'Zags Favored Vs. No. 6 Seton Hall
After such a nutty, topsy-turvy season, it was going to be impossible for the Selection Committee to set the bracket up. Still, they really screwed things up in the West Region where three of the top 6 seeds all come from the Big 12, something I've never seen before. At the same time, I'm excited about a potential 2nd-round battle between No. 3 seed Texas A&M and No. 6 seed Texas, a rivalry that was upset by all the conference realignment we've seen in recent years.

But will the Aggies and Longhorns advance past their Friday openers to give us a second matchup between the old foes this season? Texas A&M has been playing pretty good ball and should make it to Sunday, but I'm not sold on Texas who begins things with a clash against 11-seed Northern Iowa. There's definitely the potential for an upset there, and I will at least be taking the Panthers +5 points for my NCAA Tournament Picks.

One of the first games that caught my eye when the bracket was being rolled out on Sunday was another 6-11 matchup, this one in the Midwest Region between Seton Hall and Gonzaga. Alas, this one will only fit the definition of an upset should the lower-seeded Bulldogs win after Gonzaga opened as 1½ point chalk at 5Dimes. I do like Mark Few's club against the Pirates, despite the many times Gonzaga has messed up my previous brackets.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Gonzaga -1
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

All Four 9-Seeds Favored Against 8-Seeds
We heard throughout the crazy season this could finally be the year a No. 16 beats a No. 1.  I'd love to see it, but it ain't going to happen. I don't even see a chance for a 15 to beat a 2.  One 3-14 battle does strike my fancy, however, that being Thursday's collision between Utah and Fresno State.

The Utes were terribly inconsistent, save for a 9-game win streak towards the end that came to a halt with a pretty pathetic performance in the Pac-12 Tournament against Oregon. Fresno State, meanwhile, came on strong and toppled San Diego State in the Mountain West Championship. Give me Marvelle Harris and the Bulldogs plus the points, please.

Is it really an upset if a 9-seed beats an 8? Three of those matchups take place on Thursday, and two of them are on my list. Both Providence and Butler drew No. 9 seeds out of the Big East, and both are favored in their games against 8-seeds USC and Texas Tech, respectively. No, they won't be huge upsets given the seeding and the college basketball odds, but I do like the Friars and Bulldogs in each contest.

NCAA Basketball Upset Picks: Northern Iowa +5, Fresno State +8½, Butler -3 & Providence -2