Three Upsets We Could See in the First Round (2022 March Madness)

Mar 15, 2022 - 4:54 PM

With March Madness here, it’s 68 teams’ opportunity for glory. Only one will find themselves cutting down the nets at the end, but there are always several stories that get you excited throughout the tournament.

One consistent story is when a lower-seeded team gets hot and makes a run like Loyola Chicago, Wichita State, or a George Mason. Whoever it is this year starts with that first upset, and here are three teams that can do that.

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No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 13 Vermont (Tip: Thursday, 9:20 p.m. ET, TNT)

Arkansas got a scare in the first round last year when they led No. 14 Colgate by three going into halftime as a third seed. Thankfully they made adjustments by applying a full-court pressure that subdued the Raiders for the 85-68 win.

Vermont plays a very similar style to that Colgate team, and if they don’t remember, they could be one and done. The Catamounts are an excellent shooting team as they were third in effective field goal rate at 57.3% and were 65% shooting from around the rim. Pay attention to senior forward Ryan Davis as he will play a significant factor in this game he can shoot from long range, score in the paint, block shots, and out-rebound the opposition on both ends of the floor. He could be a hero to cap off Day 1.

No. 6 Alabama vs. No. 11 Notre Dame/Rutgers (Tip: Friday, 4:15 p.m. ET, TNT)

We’ve seen before where the 11-seeded play-in team wins in the first round. It could have to do with the fact that, unlike the 16th seed play-in, the teams are more evenly matched, and their opponents are at a disadvantage in preparation.

When Alabama is hitting their shots, they are dangerous, but we’ve seen a few examples of when they get cold, it can turn ugly. This is a team that lives and dies by the three as they attempt a sixth-highest 30 shots from behind the arc per game, but they’re hitting just 30%, good enough for 308th. In a one-and-done situation, if your shooting is off, pack your bags, so Alabama will undoubtedly be rooting for Rutgers, who’s allowing 34% from three. 

No. 5 Houston vs. No. 12 UAB (Tip: Friday, 9:20 p.m. ET, TNT)

Houston is one of the better teams in advanced statistics as they’re fourth in adjusted efficiency margin, according to KenPom. While this team has a fantastic starting five, their lack of depth coming off the bench could hurt them if this game stays close.

The guy to watch for in this game is one the nation’s top scorers Jordan “Jelly” Walker. Houston’s Jamal Shed has done well at the perimeter replacing Marcus Sasser, but with Walker averaging 20 points per game and 40% from three, it will be challenging for even nation’s top defense to hold him down. Walker doesn’t just pose a threat when he has the ball is in his hands, 40% of the Blazers’ points are scored when he’s on the floor. If the Cougars concentrate too much on neutralizing him, it could open up opportunities for the rest of the team.

The Cougars have failed when tested with an 0-4 record against quad one teams. You also have to be nervous for Houston if this game comes down to free throws, as they’re hitting just 66.8 percent from the charity stripe, and that could be the difference.

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