NCAA Tournament Picks: Predicting Four Possible First-Round Upsets

David Lawrence

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 1:36 PM GMT

Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2015 1:36 PM GMT

The NCAA tournament is such a popular event because everyone (but the fan base of the losing team) loves it when a small school pulls the huge upset on one of the first two days. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four big college basketball betting upset possibilities (one from each region):

East: Albany Over Oklahoma
Oklahoma is certainly a favorite on the NCAA Tournament odds, but Albany has played tough as a 16 seed in past NCAA tournaments against Connecticut (several years ago) and Florida (last season). The Great Danes have absolutely nothing to lose, but as shown by their number 14 seed, they are better this year than they have been in past NCAA tournaments. The Great Danes are playing with house money, and they are going to be extremely aggressive in this game. Oklahoma, which struggles to shoot the ball at times and has a lot of streaky players, could go cold from the field and allow Albany to stay in this game until the final four minutes or so. At that point, all bets would be off. Albany could realistically pull this one out.


South: Stephen F. Austin Over Utah
There has been no doubt about it: Utah has played average basketball over the past month. The Utes haven’t won any game against a team ranked above them. They have struggled to win even against middle-of-the-road teams in the Pac-12. Utah couldn’t even hold off Oregon for second place in the Pac-12 regular season and second place in the Pac-12 tournament, too. Utah has been stuck in a rut and shows no real signs of getting out of it. Stephen F. Austin won last year in a 12 seed-5 seed upset. There’s no reason why the Lumberjacks can’t do the exact same thing this time. This should be a game that goes down to the wire, one way or another.


Midwest: Northeastern Over Notre Dame
There’s something to be said for a team making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 24 years. Northeastern is going to be so excited to play in this game, and Notre Dame has a history of playing poorly in the NCAA tournament, at least in terms of failing to play up to its seed. Notre Dame is a third seed this year, so the Irish would be going against history if they made it out of the first weekend of the tournament. Northeastern’s Quincy Ford had a stellar performance in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship game. This is a dangerous team, and Notre Dame does not have enough of a reputation to be thought of as a team that will easily win this game.


West: Harvard Over North Carolina
This is a clear upset possibility (and likely a good bet on the college basketball spread). Harvard has won in the first round as a double-digit seed in each of the past two NCAA tournaments. The Crimson were a number 14 seed and beat third-seeded New Mexico two years ago. They were a number 12 seed and beat fifth-seeded Cincinnati last year. Harvard could certainly beat an up-and-down North Carolina team in this game. The Tar Heels do not shoot well on three-pointers. If they’re cold, Harvard could pull the surprise that wouldn’t feel like much of a surprise so back them with your NCAA tournament picks.

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