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2024 March Madness Tournament Previews

Mar 18, 2024 EST

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You can’t have March without the madness.

Last year provided some unpredictable upsets. How many brackets had Purdue losing to Fairleigh Dickinson? How about No. 15 Princeton beating No. 2 Arizona and No. 7 Missouri?

Those types of results are what makes March the best time of year for so many sports fans. Everyone loves filling out a bracket and feeling confident in how it will do over the next few weeks. Then, everyone gets to collectively shred that bracket to pieces after the first weekend inevitably deals several massive upsets.

We are looking at some teams that could be primed for an upset, using betting odds, model projections and our Power rankings. We’re leaving out teams in the First Four since they’ve yet to officially set their matchup and earn odds.

The Basketball Investment Package is ready for another SOLID Run through March Madness. Last Season the Basketball Investment Package went 53-27-2 Overall in March Madness earning a $250 bettor close to $16,890.

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No. 9 TCU (-3.5) vs. No. 8 Utah State

Last year, Utah State was perhaps everyone’s favorite to pull off the upset. The Aggies came up short. Now, everyone’s turned on them as the most likely team to be upset in the first round, facing No. 9 TCU.

The Horned Frogs are the higher ranked team on KenPom at No. 33 with an offensive rating of No. 44 and defense at No. 31. The Aggies come in at No. 48 with ratings of No. 39 and 68 at offense and defense, respectively. Utah State was widely considered to be a bubble team before the bracket was filled out. That bubble might pop early in the tournament.

No. 11 New Mexico (-2.5) vs. No. 6 Clemson

This is going to be the favorite upset pick this year, perhaps by far. Richard Pitino’s squad struggled down the stretch of the regular season, but caught fire at the right time, sweeping through the Mountain West tournament to earn that automatic bid.

KenPom has the Lobos ranked as the No. 23 team in the country. That’s higher than 14 single-digit seeds, including No. 34 Clemson. New Mexico ranks as having the No. 23 defense, which could be a driving force behind a surprisingly deep run in March.

No. 9 Michigan State (-1.5) vs. No. 8 Mississippi State

A Tom Izzo-coached team as a No. 9 seed in March? That feels like it should just be a gimme. BetMGM has the Spartans as favorites over No. 8 Mississippi State, and the model sees them as the second-biggest favorites as underdog seeds behind only TCU at 57 percent.

Michigan State is considered by KenPom to be the No. 18 team in the country, which puts them as the highest team ranked below a No. 6 seed in the bracket. In fact, BYU (No. 16) is the only No. 6 seed higher than the Spartans, while Gonzaga (No. 15) and Wisconsin (No. 17) are the only No. 5 seeds above Izzo’s squad. Mississippi State is well respected by the system, but at No. 30, it’s hardly a surprise the Bulldogs are underdogs.

No. 10 Nevada (-1.5) vs. No. 7 Dayton

Dayton is back in March Madness for the first time since 2017, when it was also a No. 7 seed. The team also was a No. 7 seed back in 2016. What happened both years? The Flyers lost to No. 10 seeds. Nevada, which lost the First Four last year, will look to make it three straight occasions in which Dayton loses to a 10 seed during March Madness.

Of the upset picks, this is one of two games where the model and betting odds disagree. Still, it’s a toss-up on both sides of the coin. KenPom has Nevada as the No. 36 team in the nation compared to Dayton at No. 32, meaning there is little to separate these teams. If the Wolf Pack pull off the upset, their stellar defense likely will have something to do with it.

No. 11 Oregon (+1.5) vs. No. 6 South Carolina

The second straight pick where odds and model differ, this time the model sees the upset as ever so slightly more likely to happen. The Ducks earned an auto-bid by winning the Pac-12 tournament, while South Carolina came up short in the SEC against Auburn. Could the red-hot Ducks add a second straight loss to South Carolina’s schedule?

This is another clash where the two teams are not separated by much in KenPom’s rankings. South Carolina has the slight edge at No. 49, but Oregon is right behind at No. 55. The Ducks have likely faced a tougher schedule on their road to reaching this point, which could give them the edge against the Gamecocks.

No. 10 Drake (+1.5) vs. No. 7 Washington State

Drake has been riding hot. Since Feb. 7, the Bulldogs are 10-1, including sweeping through the Missouri Valley Conference tournament to earn an automatic bid to the dance. Washington State has been considerably colder, with losses in three of its past six games, including a defeat to Colorado in the Pac-12 tournament.

This game is nearly a toss-up as the Cougars are only 1.5-point favorites by BetMGM and 56.1 percent favorites by the model. KenPom again sees these teams as close, with Drake ranked No. 51 and Washington State at No. 42. Considering how stout the Bulldogs’ offense can be, they’ve got the chance to put on an offensive show, even though the Cougars’ defense will be a challenge.

No. 12 Grand Canyon (+4.5) vs. No. 5 Saint Mary’s

The Grand Canyon men’s basketball program is still new to Division I, having just joined in 2013. In that time, the Antelopes have made two appearances, both short lived, with losses in 2021 and 2023. But they’re back again and hoping some magic can help lift them past a Saint Mary’s team that has reached the Round of 32 in two straight seasons.

There’s no No. 12 seed with a higher KenPom ranking than Grand Canyon, which finished the year ranked No. 53. Saint Mary’s wasn’t too shabby itself at No. 20, but this is the kind of narrow gap basketball fans look for when it comes to picking out upsets in March.

No. 12 James Madison (+4.5) vs. No. 5 Wisconsin

This is going to be a popular 12-5 upset this year. Wisconsin had an emotional run to the Big Ten championship game before falling to Illinois. James Madison had a similarly stellar run, this time racing to the top of the Sun Belt to win the conference tournament in only its second year in the conference.

The Dukes are a balanced team with the No. 56 offense and No. 79 defense per KenPom, earning them a No. 59 overall ranking. Wisconsin has the No. 13 offense, but had issues on defense at No. 47, though those came with a difficult schedule. James Madison lost only three times all year and beat a pair of non-conference tournament teams in Michigan State and Akron. The Dukes are not to be underrated.

No. 13 Samford (+7.5) vs. No. 4 Kansas

After Purdue and Tennessee, the Midwest region appears to be prime territory for upsets, at least in the eyes of oddsmakers. Even Kansas, a seasoned March squad, is listed as only a 7.5-point favorite as a No. 4 seed over a No. 13 Samford program making its third-ever NCAA appearance.

The Jayhawks appear to be a bit more vulnerable this year than in the past. KenPom has Kansas as the No. 22 team in the nation, weighted down by a 65th-ranked offense. The Bulldogs might be at No. 81, but they can score effectively, coming in at No. 69. Kansas still certainly has the edge, but there’s a path to seeing an upset brewing here.

No. 14 Akron (+12.5) vs. No. 3 Creighton

Hey, we’ve got to get at least one long-shot in here, right? After all, a No. 16 seed and a No. 15 seed both won games last year. We’re not quite going to be so bold as to have one of those listed out, but the model sees no No. 14 seed or lower as having better odds of winning in their first-round clash than Akron.

This would be a stunner by all accounts. Akron sits at No. 116 in KenPom rankings, while Creighton is 105 spots higher at No. 11. The Zips have a solid defense that could possibly provide the Bluejays with some issues, and might be just the right recipe for this year’s biggest upset.

This Season we are more ready than ever and look to break all records. Net Wins, Net Profit and More!

Click Here for 2024 March Madness Special!

NEW: 1st Round March Madness Tournament Package!

NEW: 2nd Round March Madness Tournament Package!

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