March Madness Upset Predictions & Picks: NCAA Bracket 2023
Another unpredictable NCAA Tournament has produced a very unexpected Sweet 16. Which Cinderella teams will continue to win? Here are the best March Madness upset predictions based on the top college basketball odds.
A No. 15 seed has reached the Sweet 16 for the third straight season. The Princeton Tigers will attempt to do what the St. Peter’s Peacocks did in 2022 and advance to the Elite 8.
But the Tigers aren’t the only lower-seeded team remaining. There's also the Florida Atlantic Owls, the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Michigan State Spartans, and the Creighton Bluejays.
Without a dominant team in the tournament this season, every school feels vulnerable to an upset. Each of the remaining No. 1 seeds face a tough matchup, with the Houston Cougars taking on the Miami Hurricanes, and the Alabama Crimson Tide battling the defensive-minded San Diego State Aztecs.
Here are our best March Madness upset predictions (pick confidence is based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
Check out our March Madness picks and predictions, and our March Madness odds.
March Madness upset predictions
Kansas State ML vs. Michigan State (+115 via Caesars Sportsbook) ⭐⭐⭐
Our first upset prediction is far from bold. The third-seeded Kansas State Wildcats are 2-point underdogs against the seventh-seeded Spartans.
This is not new territory for the Wildcats. They were 3-point underdogs during their second-round contest against the Kentucky Wildcats despite being the better seed in that matchup too.
Though the Wildcats are a Power 5 team, they don’t garner the same respect as other schools from similar conferences. It’s not surprising to see the Wildcats as underdogs yet again while facing a second Blue Blood team in as many games. But should they be? Absolutely not.
The Spartans have taken advantage of their opponents' sloppy play over the first two games. While some of that can be chalked up to great defense, there's also been some bad offensive play. That was the case with the Marquette Golden Eagles during their loss.
The Wildcats recorded just eight turnovers against Kentucky, and they boast arguably the most impressive player in the tournament. Markquis Nowell has recorded 44 points, 23 assists, eight rebounds, and six steals over two games. Between him and Keyontae Johnson, the Wildcats will prove too much for the Spartans and advance to the Elite 8, when they'll finally be favored.
San Diego State ML vs. Alabama (+280 via DraftKings Sportsbook) ⭐⭐
The Crimson Tide are the best team in the country, but this is a terrible matchup for them. The San Diego State Aztecs are a physical squad that plays incredible defense and prevents their opponents from getting any type of rhythm offensively. They’re allowing just 54.5 points per game, and they've held seven consecutive opponents under 70 points.
Only one team has broken 80 against their defense in 2022-23, and that was the Arizona Wildcats all the way back in November. The Crimson Tide average over 82 points per game, but they'll struggle to hit that number in this contest.
But can the Aztecs score enough to actually win? They put up 75 against the Furman Paladins during the Round of 32, but that was their first 70-point performance since Feb. 25. But they won’t need to hit 70 if their defense can hold the Crimson Tide's offense. The offense will need to just do enough to keep the game close.
The Aztecs are a hard team to prepare for because of their defense, and because they don’t boast a dominant scorer. That may sound like a problem, but it actually could be a huge benefit, as the Crimson tide won’t be able to eliminate just one player. Matt Bradley is the only player averaging over 10 points per game for San Diego State, but 10 Aztec players average over 4.0.
The depth and physicality of the Aztecs will help the team overpower the Crimson Tide.
Check out our March Madness Final Four odds and March Madness MVP odds.
Miami ML vs. Houston (+260 via DraftKings Sportsbook) ⭐⭐⭐
The spread for this game makes no sense. The Hurricanes have suffered just one seven-plus-point loss in 2022-23 way back on Nov. 20. The spread won’t stay this large, so get in as quickly as possible.
The Hurricanes can pull off the victory too. They don't get rattled. They came out flat against the Drake Bulldogs and trailed by eight points with just 4:30 remaining. Yet they found a way to pull out the victory. They built a 13-point first-half lead against the Indiana Hoosiers, then watched it vanish early in the second half. But they got it together and ended up blowing the Hoosiers out.
This is a team with a lot of experience in Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller, as well as big-time shotmakers like Nijel Pack and Wooga Poplar, and a dominant presence on the glass from Norchad Omier. The Hurricanes like to score, but they can also play the gritty style the Cougars will pursue.
The Cougars are a quality squad, but the school's defensive performance against the Auburn Tigers wasn't as good as the numbers suggest. Houston did hold the Tigers to just 23 points on 4-of-24 shooting in the second half. But Auburn also earned plenty of opportunities from the free-throw line while missing 17 attempts.
The Canes are the 18th-best free-throw shooting team in the country, and their offense is much more consistent than the Tigers' unit. If they can get to the line, the Hurricanes can easily win this game.
Check out our March Madness MVP picks and predictions.
Here are our best March Madness betting sites:
- FanDuel: No Sweat First Bet Up to $1,000 | Read our FanDuel Review
- Caesars: Earn Up to a $1,250 Bet Credit | Read our Caesars Review
- DraftKings: Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets | Read our DraftKings Review
- PointsBet: Earn Five Second-Chance Bets Up to $50 Each | Read our PointsBet Review
- BetMGM: Get a Bonus Bet of Up to $1,000 | Read our BetMGM Review
(21+. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER)
* Bonuses not applicable in Ontario.
- Best Online Sportsbooks | Best Sportsbook Promos (U.S. only)