Upcoming Match-ups

How to Spot a March Madness Upset: 4 Integral Trends

While it’s easy to predict that there will be chaos in the bracket every year, it’s a lot harder to pinpoint where the chaos will arise. Is there any way to spot March Madness upsets-in-the-making with 100% accuracy? Of course not. But looking at past results, there are certain identifiable traits and trends that are present in an alarming number of NCAA Tournament upsets.

Here are the four trends our research has identified.

NB: in this article, the term “Power Six conferences” refers to the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC.

1. Fade Mid-Majors with a Top-Five Seed

Over the last six years, mid-majors that get a top-five seed have been upset at a startling rate, especially the ones not named Gonzaga.

In the last six tournaments, 13 non-Gonzaga mid-majors have received a top-five seed. Six of those lost in the first round. Six more lost in the second round, and every one of them lost against the spread (ATS), as well.

Year Mid-Majors with a Top-Five Seed March Madness Result Score Spread
2018 #2 Cincinnati Lost to #7 Nevada (Round 2) 75-73 -4.5
2018 #4 Wichita State Lost to #13 Marshall (Round 1) 81-75 -13.0
2015 #5 Northern Iowa Lost to #4 Louisville (Round 2) 66-53 +2.0
2014 #5 VCU Lost to #12 Stephen F. Austin (Round 1) 77-75 OT -5.5
2014 #5 Cincinnati Lost to #12 Harvard (Round 1) 61-57 -3.5
2014 #4 San Diego State Lost to #1 Arizona (Sweet 16) 70-64 +6.5
2014 #5 St. Louis Lost to #4 Louisville (Round 2) 66-51 +9.0
2013 #5 VCU Lost to #4 Michigan (Round 2) 78-53 +3.0
2013 #5 UNLV Lost to #12 Cal (Round 1) 64-61 -3.0
2013 #4 St. Louis Lost to #12 Oregon (Round 2) 74-57 -3.5
2012 #5 Temple Lost to #12 USF (Round 1) 58-44 -2.0
2012 #5 Wichita St Lost to #12 VCU (Round 1) 62-59 -8.5
2012 #5 New Mexico Lost to #4 Louisville (Round 2) 59-56 +1.5

Meet the authors

Matt McEwan
Editor-in-Chief
Dave F.
Sports Writer
Betway
William Hill
Bet Online
Bovada
888sport
See all TOP Sports Betting sites