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Wayne Staats | | March 16, 2023

VCU, Providence and Furman are favorite upset picks for the 2023 NCAA men's basketball tournament

The longest perfect March Madness bracket ever (we think)

When looking for upset picks in the first round of the 2023 NCAA men's tournament, No. 11 Providence, No. 12 VCU and No. 13 Furman were among the most popular at each of their seed lines for Men's Bracket Challenge Game players. We defined upset as teams five seeds lower or worse — so for the first round that means starting with No. 11 vs. No. 6.

Here's how the numbers break down for each seed:

16 vs. 1

Matchup Upset pick percentage
No. 16 Howard vs. No. 1 Kansas 3.37
No. 16 Texas A&M-CC vs. No. 1 Alabama 2.58
No. 16 FDU vs. No. 1 Purdue 2.36
No. 16 Northern Kentucky vs. No. 1 Houston 2.14

Nothing all too notable here, as these numbers are rather similar to 2022's. However, it's interesting to note that the most-picked 16 seed is the one going against the defending champion. Oddly enough, the same thing happened last year, when Norfolk State was the most popular 16 facing reigning champion Baylor.

15 vs. 2

Matchup Upset pick percentage
No. 15 Colgate vs. No. 2 Texas 7.41
No. 15 Vermont vs. No. 2 Marquette 5.60
No. 15 UNC Asheville vs. No. 2 UCLA 4.42
No. 15 Princeton vs. No. 2 Arizona 4.13

Colgate stands out here, as the Raiders' percentage is better than the most-picked 15 last year (Jacksonville State at 4.41 vs. Auburn). This is Colgate's fourth consecutive tournament appearance, with the program getting a 14 or 15 each time. The Raiders are 0-3 in this streak of tournament bids, though they lost to No. 3 Wisconsin by only 7 last year.

Oh, and if you're wondering about where Saint Peter's landed, the Peacocks were picked to beat No. 2 Kentucky on only 3 percent of MBCG brackets — the third-lowest mark for No. 15 seeds. And we all know what happened next.

14 vs. 3

Matchup Upset pick percentage
No. 14 UCSB vs. No. 3 Baylor 10.35
No. 14 Montana State vs. No. 3 Kansas State 10.17
No. 14 Kennesaw State vs. No. 3 Xavier 7.39
No. 14 Grand Canyon vs. No. 3 Gonzaga 4.67

Last season, Colgate led the 14 seeds at nearly 14 percent, so the most-popular 14 isn't as well-liked this year. No 14 seed won in last year's tournament, but Abilene Christian upset Texas in 2021.

13 vs. 4

Matchup Upset pick percentage
No. 13 Furman vs. No. 4 Virginia 25.62
No. 13 Kent State vs. No. 4 Indiana 19.02
No. 13 Louisiana vs. No. 4 Tennessee 13.23
No. 13 Iona vs. No. 4 UConn 11.31

Here's where you'll see a noticeable rise in upset selections. All four 13 seeds are getting at least 10 percent, though none are reaching last year's South Dakota State (38.36 percent).

No 13 seed came away with a win last year, but there had been three consecutive NCAA tournaments with a winner: Buffalo and Marshall in 2018, UC Irvine in 2019 and Ohio and North Texas in 2021.

12 vs. 5

Matchup Upset pick percentage
No. 12 VCU vs. No. 5 Saint Mary's 37.57
No. 12 Charleston vs. No. 5 San Diego State 33.33
No. 12 Oral Roberts vs. No. 5 Duke 25.22
No. 12 Drake vs. No. 5 Miami (Fla.) 23.04

Here we go. Last March Madness, "only" two No. 12 seeds topped 20 percent. This time, all four cross that mark. Two are even in the 30s, led by VCU at 37.57 percent. These four teams know how to win, too, as they average 28.75 wins between them.

In a fun twist, the 12 seeds went 2-2 last year in the first round, but the wins came against the two least-picked 12s (New Mexico State at Richmond).

11 vs. 6

Matchup Upset pick percentage
No. 11 Providence vs. No. 6 Kentucky 34.58
No. 11 Pitt vs. No. 6 Iowa State 33.77
No. 11 NC State vs. No. 6 Creighton 30.14
No. 11 Arizona State vs. No. 6 TCU 15.18

The 11s are looking very similar to the 12s. Last year, two 11 seeds were at the 50-percent marker: Michigan and Virginia Tech. In the end, Michigan advanced, as did Iowa State (28.12 percent to beat LSU). Remember, the Pitt and Arizona State selections could also come from people who thought Mississippi State and Nevada would win in the First Four but didn't change their picks before brackets locked.

Historically, No. 11s are where Cinderella can be found in the Final Four — 2011 VCU and 2021 UCLA have even gone from the First Four to the Final Four.

2023 March Madness live streams, TV times, schedule (All times Eastern)

Thursday, March 23 (Sweet 16)

Friday, March 24 (Sweet 16)

Saturday, March 25 (Elite 8)

Sunday, March 26 (Elite 8)

Saturday, April 1 (Final Four)

Monday, April 3 (National championship game)

2023 NCAA tournament final scores, highlights

Tuesday, March 14 (First Four in Dayton, Ohio)

Wednesday, March 15 (First Four in Dayton, Ohio)

Thursday, March 16 (Round of 64)

Friday, March 17 (Round of 64)

Saturday, March 18 (Round of 32)

Sunday, March 19 (Round of 32)

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