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NCAAB Championship: Potential Upsets in 2023

The NCAAB Championship is underway as the first batch of play-in games took place on Tuesday and the road to Houston starts in earnest on Thursday with the first round of 64.

There are upsets in the tourney every year and in 2022, fans were treated to a few memorable first round shocks as 15-seed Saint Peter's overcame second seeds Kentucky in the East Regional, while the Midwest threw up plenty of surprises as Richmond, Iowa State and Miami all dumped out teams ranked above them.

We've picked apart the first round games this year and highlighted a few potential upsets to consider before filling out your bracket.

12-seed VCU v 5-seed Saint Mary's

WhatVCU v St Mary's
WhereMVP Arena, Albany, NY
When18:00, Friday 17th March
How to watchBT Sport
OddsVCU 167/100, St Mary's 25/48

VCU have a history of pulling off surprise wins in the dance and back in 2011 they reached the national semifinals as 11-seeds. This year, they enter the event as 12-seeds in the West Regional and have what looks a winnable first round assignment against Saint Mary's.

Saint Mary's are justifiable favourites but SMU may be a little jaded after losing to Gonzaga in their final regular season game, meaning they had to share the WCC regular season title, before losing again to the same opponents in the conference tournament. 

VCU are entering the event on the back of an eight-game winning streak, so they are the form team in this matchup and as such could spring a surprise.

11-seed Providence vs 6-seed Kentucky

WhatProvidence v Kentucky
WhereGreensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
When23:10, Friday 17th March
How to watchBT Sport
OddsProvidence 167/100, Kentucky 25/48

Providence are rated as the overall 42-seeds and enter the East Regional as the 11-seeds. 

They take on Kentucky, who are considered the overall 23-seeds, in what could well be a close matchup where a minor upset is a distinct possibility.

Both of these teams have similar regular season records and had to rely on at-large bids to book their respective places in the tournament. Providence finished up with a 21–11 (13–7) record, while Kentucky had a 21–11 (12–6) record. 

They each come into the game after losing their conference tournament openers, and although Kentucky have a superior team on paper, Providence play in an incredibly competitive Big East conference and will feel they have a chance to go far after reaching the round of 16 in 2022.

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13-seed Kent State vs 4-seed Indiana

WhatKent State v Indiana
WhereMVP Arena, Albany, NY
When01:55, Saturday 18th March
How to watchBT Sport
OddsKent State 33/20, Indiana 20/37

Kent State are back at the tournament for the first time since 2017 and have a tough first round assignment against Indiana, who are rated at 40/1 to go all the way and win the NCAAB Championship. 

Indiana are the overall 15-seeds but come into this game in mixed form with four defeats in their last eight games, while Kent State are on a six-game winning run.

This is a matchup where different styles come together as Indiana clearly have some real individual talent but Kent State have an excellent defense. 

Kent State made trips to Houston and Gonzaga in non-conference games during the regular season – although they lost both of those games, they were both close and that suggests they could well be a match for any opponent they face in March.

12-seed Charleston vs 5-seed San Diego State

WhatCharleston v San Diego State
WhereAmway Center, Orlando, FL
When19:10, Thursday 16th March
How to watchBT Sport
OddsCharleston 37/20, San Diego State 4/9

There was plenty of buzz about 12-seeds Charleston in the build-up to the tournament after their impressive regular season run, where they suffered just three defeats. 

They may have hoped for a kinder draw than 5-seeds San Diego State, however, as they also arrive at the dance in fine form.

Charleston ended the regular season with a seven-game winning run and then won the CAA Tournament with relative ease, finishing up with a 31–3 (16–2) record. 

SDSU also ended the season strongly with 10 wins in 11 games as they claimed the MWC Tournament title so this is a clash between two in form teams – and it would be no real surprise to see the underdogs claim a victory as Charleston are a team who have become accustomed to winning.

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