March 21, 2021
Saturday's first-round slate of March Madness games got off to a chalky start. But as the day wore on, the upsets began to emerge, capped off by the late night shocker featuring No. 14 seed Abilene Christian over No. 3 seed Texas. Other upsets featured No. 13 Ohio stunning No. 4 Virginia, No. 11 UCLA stopping No. 6 BYU and No. 10 Maryland knocking off No. 7 UConn.
Why do we mention those upsets? Simple, because much like we did prior to the first-round games, we're going to be looking at a trio of potential upsets that could take place on Monday, when all of those advancing teams mentioned above will be playing their next games.
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.
Let's take a look at three potential upsets — including two double-digit seeds — that could result in some surprising teams advancing to the Sweet 16, with all the odds courtesy of Pa.Unibet.com.
While it wouldn't be the biggest upset of the day according to the bookmakers, a No. 14 seed making to the Sweet 16 would be shocking nonetheless, although perhaps with this team it shouldn't be all that surprising. Especially after how they played against Texas.
While you probably haven't heard much about them prior to their upset Saturday night, every opposing offense that's gone up against the Wildcats will likely never forget them. That's because Abilene is one of the best defensive teams in the country, holding opponents to just 60.2 points per game (4th) and forcing an astounding 20.4 turnovers on average, which is the best in the country. They forced 23 turnovers out of the Longhorns in their first-round upset. They are fast, chaotic and a nightmare to play against. And they should get a more favorable matchup on Monday in UCLA.
In the first round, Creighton barely survived against the No. 12 seed Gauchos of UCSB, and now they'll take on a surprising Ohio team that knocked off the defending (2019) national champions in Virginia, who seem to either get knocked out in the first round in shocking fashion or win the whole damn thing.
One of the best things working in Ohio's favor in this one might be their ability to score. They play fast and average over 80 points per game this season, which is bad news for a Creighton team that is 8-0 when holding opponents to 68 points or fewer but just 7-8 when allowing over 68 points, according to ESPN. Another thing they have working for them — or perhaps against Creighton — is that the Bluejays are one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country, and that matters in March.
But Creighton is a veteran team with balanced scoring — all five of their starters are either juniors or seniors who each average double-digit points per game — so this won't be an easy game for the Bobcats. But if they can keep junior Marcus Zegarowski from going off, then it's not difficult to envision them pulling off the upset.
Finally, we come to a game that, while it may be an upset in the bracket, isn't really an upset according to sports books, with the sixth-seeded Trojans actually entering their game against No. 3 seed Kansas as a small favorite. But that line could actually change with news coming down today that the Jayhawks are expected to have Jalen Wilson back from his COVID-19 quarantine in time for Monday's game against USC. They also just got David McCormack back in time for Saturday's opening win against Eastern Washington, and Kansas will have to hope that Wilson's return is just as impactful as McCormack's — he had 22 points and 9 rebounds in the comeback win.
So why are we still going with USC here? For starters, McCormack had a day of practice before returning to game action, and we still don't know if Wilson will be afforded the same luxury. Furthermore, the more moving parts you have like this and distractions, especially by way of COVID, the tougher it is to win. Just ask Virginia. On top of that, USC is a pretty good team, with Evan Mobley leading the way with is averaging 16.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and three blocks per game. But with USC ranking 326th from the charity stripe (64.5%) we'll just have to hope it doesn't come down to a free throw shooting contest.
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