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March 20, 2021

Five second-round March Madness upsets to watch for Sunday

The second round of the NCAA Tournament, typically, is a lot more tame than the wild first two days.

In contrast to an average of 12.7 upsets per first round per year (40%), second rounds have seen 3.6 upsets per tournament, dating back 35 years (22%). The two most frequent underdogs that beat the odds to advance in Round 2 are 6 seeds vs 3 seeds, and 7 seeds vs. 2 seeds.

As we did prior to each day of first round action, we've singled out five of the eight games airing Sunday that are ripe for an upset. Whether you are betting the games, closely following your own bracket or looking to cash in with Unibet's Bettor Bracket — which allows you to pick games against the spread and re-do your bracket after each round — we know you'll be scoreboard watching all weekend.

No. 10 Syracuse (+3.5) over No. 2 West Virginia, 5:15 (CBS)

Both of these teams are coming off more than convincing defeats, with the Orange upsetting SDSU by 16 points, and the Mountaineers taking care of business, as expected, over Morehead State by 17 points on Friday. On paper, WVU is the favorite by a slim 3.5 points, according to It will be a battle of high-powered offenses, as these teams combined to average more than 152 points per game during the regular season — making a bet on the over (currently set at 147) a theoretical good play as well. This should be a fantastic battle between two teams with coaches who are no strangers to the limelight in Jim Boehiem and Bob Huggins. Any outcome in this game would not be surprising.

No. 6 Texas Tech (+1) over No. 3 Arkansas, 6:10 PM (TNT)

With a single point dividing these teams, this one is really a coin flip. And with a coin flip, and so many upsets typical in an NCAA Tournament, it is often wise to give the nod to the underdog. Texas Tech was on upset watch early against Utah State, trailing by double digits at one point, but a big second half saved their season. The Razorbacks had a similar scenario, as they trailed Colgate for most of the game before bursting through toward the back end of their tourney opener. Both teams will enter Round 2 with confidence, and a clash of styles should make for an interesting game. The Red Raiders are a defensive juggernaut allowing just 62.3 points per game while Arkansas plays fast, and scores, to the tune of 85.6 points per game. Which one will give?

No. 15 Oral Roberts (+8) over No. 7 Florida, 7:45 PM (TruTV)

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They already shocked the world to defeat Ohio State. So why not Florida? Oral Roberts, a private Christian school in Oklahoma, has become tournament darlings after ousting the No. 2 seeded Buckeyes, a team many had advancing all the way to the Final 4. Few would argue that Florida, an at-large entrant in the big dance, would be more intimidating to the Golden Eagles, though the SEC's fifth ranked team this season does boast one of the best individual players in the tournament in Tre Mann. Oral Roberts will look to repeat history Sunday, trying to become the first 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 since Florida Golf Coast did it in 2013 — and just the second ever.

No. 13 North Texas (+6.5) over No 5 Villanova, 8:45 PM (TNT)

Before action tipped off Friday night, many thought that the Wildcats were one of the NCAA Tournament's prime teams to falter in an upset. And while they did let Winthrop stay in the game, the return of Justin Moore and solid play from NBA hopeful Jeremiah Robinson-Earl helped Villanova survive and advance. North Texas, on paper, is a team that Nova should feel confident about besting in Round 2. They had really no business being in the March Madness field to begin with, finishing third in C-USA and needing a run through the weak field of their conference tournament to get a seat at the table. But people still don't seem to be sold on Villanova. The Wildcats, as you can see from, are only 6.5-point favorites over the 13 seed. This one may be a stay-away as far as betting on the spread goes, but it could be a fun upset pick if you are a non-believer in Jay Wright's squad.

No. 12 Oregon State (+6) over No. 4 Oklahoma State, 9:40 PM (TBS)

In a battle between two Power 5 conference at-large teams, really anything is possible. Oregon State was the fourth best team in the Pac 12, and boasts the better defense while Oklahoma State finished fourth in the Big 12 and is a much better scoring squad. In the first round, the Beavers pulled off a bracket-busting upset over the SEC's Tennessee, while Oklahoma State struggled with 13-seeded Liberty early before pulling away a little bit late. It might be a bit on the risky side to pick against top seeds like Baylor or Illinois to go down on Sunday — but picking OSU over OSU (ha) in this one is a much more measured and likely leap of faith.

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