First Round NCAA March Madness Upsets & Recap

First Round NCAA March Madness Upsets & Recap

First Round NCAA March Madness Upsets & Recap 800 600 OnTheStacks

ncaa march madness

By Spencer Ripchik

Selection Sunday is in the past, which means March Madness is in full swing

The college basketball season has been very chaotic with no true No. 1 team emerging. No. 1 Alabama is listed as the No. 1 overall team in the bracket but looked rocky at points in the season.

There has only been one No. 1 seed to lose in the most chaotic part of the bracket, the first round. The Crimson Tide, who played Texas A&M CC, were alright.

However, there are a bunch of other teams that are on upset watch in the first round with some of the picks from yesterday coming to fruition.

Here are a couple of upsets to take a look at before Day 2 of action tips off plus some of the upset picks recapped.

No. 11 Providence over No. 6 Kentucky

Two teams that have been up and down all season. No. 11 Providence and No. 6 Kentucky.

At the start of 2023, the Wildcats were on the bubble but found their stride toward the end of the season. Kentucky was upset by Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament and could be on upset watch again.

Providence has had a rough stretch of games and has lost four of its last five, so the Friars are in need of a bounce back game.

The Friars have two big wins over Marquette early in the season, so they are very capable of beating big teams. 

Providence plays on the back of Kentucky transfer forward Bryce Hopkins, who averages 16.1 points per game, so it’s a matchup against his former team.

Kentucky has been losing early in the NCAA Tournament the past couple of years and it could happen again.

No. 12 Drake over No. 5 Miami (FL)

The ACC has been all over the place this season and No. 5 Miami is one of the reasons why. 

The Hurricanes had the best record in the ACC this season but didn’t play well in the ACC Tournament, losing to Duke.

The reason why is Miami’s defense. The Hurricanes have no problem scoring but can tend to have a problem defending the rim.

The Hurricanes allow almost as many points as they put up and let up 72.1 points per game.

Drake is not a team to sleep on. Sophomore guard Tucker DeVries is an offensive weapon and almost shoots 40% from deep.

The Bulldogs are another hot team in the NCAA and have a ranked win earlier in the season over Mississippi State.

Miami also might not be entirely healthy with sophomore forward Norchad Omier’s health in question. If he’s not good to go, then Drake can strike against a shaky Miami defense.

No. 12 VCU over No. 5 St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s had a solid start at the beginning of the season with big wins over Gonzaga and San Diego State, but the past couple of games haven’t been kind to the Gaels.

Randy Bennett’s squad lost twice to Gonzaga at the end of the season and an odd loss to Loyola Marymount.

Like in the West Coast Conference finals, St. Mary’s can crack under pressure and did so in 2022 too, losing to UCLA in the second round.

VCU has been rolling and won the Atlantic 10 this year. The Rams’ bread and butter is their defense.

They allow just 62.9 points per game, which is the 23rd-best in the NCAA. St. Mary’s defense is also solid, so it should be a defensive battle. 

VCU and St. Mary’s average the same points per game, but the Rams are one of the best teams in the NCAA at forcing turnovers.

When the Gaels have lost this year it’s been because they cough the ball up. 

This should be one of the best No. 12-No. 5 games of the Tournament, but VCU could have the edge because of its ability to force turnovers and that St. Mary’s isn’t great in big games.

No. 13 Furman over No. 4 Virginia

Furman is one of the hottest teams in the NCAA Tournament of late, winning 14 of its last 15 games this season.

The Paladins are led by their guards and especially senior Mike Bothwell, who leads the team with 18 points per game. With him are junior Marcus Foster and sophomore J.P. Pegues, who both average over 10 points per game.

The offense is rounded out by senior forward Jalen Slawson to give Furman a senior one-two punch.

Virginia has been up and down this season with its methodical offense. The Cavaliers’ slow-paced offense makes them win if it’s a low-scoring game.

Furman averages the 11th-most points per game, so if this is a battle of offenses, the Paladins have more firepower.

What Happened?

This one was hit right on the money. With the clock winding down, Furman’s J.P. Pegues nailed a 3-pointer to give the Paladins the lead, which was the triple that picked up the win.

Senior forward Jalen Slawson led Furman with 19 points in the 68-67 upset victory.

The game was back-and-forth and the difference maker was the Paladins’ 3-point shooting. Virginia led in almost every stat but shot 16.7% from deep compared to Furman’s 35.7%. The Paladins knocked down 10 3-pointers in the win.

The Cavaliers’ struggles in the NCAA Tournament continue as they now have a 1-3 record against 13-seeds and up since 2018.

No. 12 Charleston over No. 5 San Diego State

A No. 12 seed over a No. 5 seed. There’s usually one of those every year and this could be the 2023 version.

No. 12 Charleston is hot off a CAA Championship and is 31-3 on the season. The competition the Cougars have faced off against hasn’t been great, but coach Pat Kelsey has his squad on a 10-game win streak.

The Cougars average 80.8 points per game, which is the 15th most in the NCAA, and it comes from a variety of scorers. Five Cougars average over 10 points per game.

San Diego State won the Mountain West over Utah State and is currently 27-6 on the season. However, the Aztecs’ losses are all in big games and the first round is a big game.

San Diego State lost to Arizona by 17, St. Mary’s and also lost to Arkansas. The other three losses are to other schools in the Mountain West.

The Aztecs have the defense, but the offense is lacking with only one player over double digits. If San Diego State can’t stop the Charleston offense then the Aztecs could be in trouble.

What Happened?

This one was close, but San Diego State held on, winning 63-57 to move on to the second round.

Charleston had the lead toward the end of the game and was looking like it had some momentum. However, the Aztecs made some big shots toward the end of the game, and when they were fouled, they made their free throws.

San Diego State was led by senior guard Matt Bradley, who finished with 17 points on 7-for-15 shooting.

The Aztecs face off against Furman on Saturday.

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