2017 March Madness First Round Upset Betting Picks

Posted by Peter Boysen on March 13, 2017 in

Why do they call the NCAA men’s basketball tournament March Madness? Because every year there are teams that either come in from the mid-major conferences and knock off a contender or low seeds that start a journey much farther into the bracket that anyone had expected — and that craziness starts in the first round. Take a look at our upset picks for the opening rounds — and don’t forget to look at all of our March Madness odds and matchups for this week’s games in other sports as well.

2017 March Madness First Round Upset Betting Picks

Middle Tennessee State over Minnesota

Remember Giddy Potts? The Middle Tennessee State star who led the Blue Raiders to a huge upset win over Michigan State last year, when MTSU was a 15-seed? Well, he’s back, and he brought his whole team with him. Potts put up 30 points in the Conference USA title game, and the team is even deeper with Arkansas transfer JaCorey Williams, who leads the squad in scoring at 17.3 points per tilt. They take on a Minnesota team that middled along in the Big Ten but is one of those teams that benefits more from their conference affiliation than from their own accomplishments as a squad.

Florida Gulf Coast over Florida State

That crazy dunkfest that took FGCU to the Sweet 16 three years ago is back and more vigorous than ever. Florida State has a strong roster but floundered late, both in ACC play and in the conference tournament, leaving them ripe for a big upset.

East Tennessee State over Florida

ETSU forces turnovers on 22 percent of their possessions — so more than one out of every five possessions starts with an opponent turnover. That’s #19 in the nation. They also have a stellar guard in T.J. Cromer, who nails down an average of three shots from downtown per game and averages 19.1 points per contest.

Vanderbilt over Northwestern

A nine-seed knocking off an eight-seed isn’t that much of an upset, but it still counts. Northwestern is happy that they simply made the tournament for the first time in the school’s 78-year history, while Vanderbilt rolled all the way to the SEC semifinals until Arkansas was simply too quick for them. They won’t have that same problem with Northwestern.

VCU over St. Mary’s

I think St. Mary’s gets a free pass in a number of ways, simply by being the second-best school in the West Coast Conference. They get trounced by Gonzaga when they play them — and they don’t play anyone else who is that difficult. VCU doesn’t have that same high-pressure D they had under Shaka Smart, but they still have more athleticism in their guards and more hustle on the boards.