5 March Madness Upset Picks for Round 1 in Your 2023 NCAA Tournament Bracket

5 March Madness Upset Picks for Round 1 in Your 2023 NCAA Tournament Bracket


March Madness is here, and that means there are only a couple of days left to fill out your 2023 NCAA Tournament bracket. This year's field is wide open, with both blue-blood teams and mid-major standouts ready to compete to be the last team standing.

With your funny bracket name set, your March Madness winner decided and even some sleeper picks ready, it's time to figure out which underdogs are worth backing. The Duel is here to help, with our top five March Madness upset picks for Round 1.

2023 March Madness Upset Picks

5. No. 12 Oral Roberts Over No. 5 Duke

Duke is considered a sneaky Final Four contender by many given its in the midst of a 10-game winning streak and has finally figured out its identity on the offensive side. The Blue Devils are going to be tested right away, though. Oral Roberts enters the tournament ranked third in offensive efficiency and fourth in points per game (82.5). Max Abmas has already proven once that he can guide the Golden Eagles past the first round and finds himself surrounded by more talent than ever before. It shouldn't go unnoticed that Oral Roberts has won 17 straight games, too. This will be a must-watch contest.

4. No. 12 Charleston Over No. 5 San Diego State

This is a mighty popular upset pick, but it is one that makes a ton of sense. Charleston leads the country with 31 wins on the season and ranks among the top 20 teams in offensive efficiency as well as defensive efficiency. Having that kind of balance on both sides of the ball is not easy. San Diego State is a team that relies solely on its defense to win, which could be a disadvantage if the Cougars can shoot the lights out. That's definitely a possibility considering they have tallied at least 77 points in eight of the last 10 games. The Aztecs have their work cut out for them here.

3. No. 10 USC Over No. 7 Michigan State

Upsets don't always come at the hands of a mid-major program. Michigan State is only slated as a small 2.5-point favorite over USC, but there's an argument to be made that it shouldn't be favored at all. The Spartans play at a slow pace (No. 291 in possessions per game) and rank 134th in shooting percentage (45.0%) on the season. It leaves Michigan State in a vulnerable position if USC can grab an early lead because it would have to change its entire offensive strategy to come back from a deficit. A No. 10 seed has taken down a No. 7 seed 58 times since 1985, so watch out for the Trojans.

2. No. 13 Kent State Over No. 4 Indiana

It was a bit surprising to see Kent State labeled as a No. 13 seed in this year's tournament considering it came out on top in a deep MAC and has played a challenging out-of-conference schedule. The Golden Flashes were defeated by Gonzaga by only 7 points and took Houston to the brink in a five-point loss back in November. Kent State can keep up in a shootout (75.7 points per game) or hold its ground in a defensive battle (No. 19 in defensive efficiency), which is a dangerous combination. Keep in mind a No. 13 seed has won a Round 1 game in four of the last six tournaments.

1. No. 10 Penn State Over No. 7 Texas A&M

There may not be a single team that enters the NCAA Tournament with as much momentum as the Nittany Lions. Penn State had won five straight games against teams in the tournament field prior to its close 67-65 loss to Purdue in the Big Ten Championship. Head coach Micah Shrewsberry's team ranks 12th in the country when it comes to three-pointers attempted per game (27.0) and now face a Texas A&M defense that allows 8.1 three-pointers made per game (No. 285 in NCAA). Sharpshooters like Seth Lundy, Jalen Pickett and Andrew Funk have a chance to light it up from deep on Thursday night.

Larry Rupp is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Larry Rupp also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username phillyfan424. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel. 

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