March Madness Upset Picks 2019: Top 5 Best Bracket Sleepers for NCAA Tournament

march madness upset

Getty Ja Morant and Murray State could be giant killers in March.

Everyone wants to be the person that picks the major upsets in their bracket pool, but finding the right way to fill out your bracket can be difficult. It is important to pick the right balance between Cinderellas and contenders throughout the tournament.

What should you look for in identifying a potential sleeper? There is not one factor that a team must have, but there are a few common traits in finding a double-digit seed that can win multiple games in the tournament. Teams that shoot well from the three-point line have a chance to push themselves into the Sweet 16. However, relying too much on threes can be a recipe for an early exit so tread with caution.

Mid-major teams with experience and great guard play is another great recipe for March Madness success. Teams with NCAA tournament experience, even if it was a first-round loss is also a plus. Finally, elite defensive teams do not necessarily need prolific shooting to advance in the tournament. These teams are looking to make the game ugly and win in a low-scoring affair.

Three seeds to consider when identifying upsets are No. 11, No. 12 and No. 13 seeds. Picking a No. 12 over No. 5 has become a rite of passage, but 11’s and 13’s are also worth watching. According to MCubed.net, No. 11 seeds have a 36.8 winning percentage. No. 12 seeds are winning 31.3 percent of their games. Finally, No. 13 seeds have a 19.5 percent winning percentage meaning there is nearly one No. 13 seed winning per year.

One word of caution when filling out your bracket, the majority of upsets happen in the first two rounds. While it is fun to pick the correct upsets, you stand a better chance of winning your bracket pool by nailing your Final Four picks.

While there are occasional outliers (Loyola-Chicago and South Carolina), the majority of Final Four teams come from the top three seeds. It is okay to pick a few early upsets, just make sure you do not pick a lot of these teams to advance far in the tournament. Picking the wrong upset can have a domino effect that will make you want to trash your bracket after the first two days.

Here are five teams to watch when you are filling out your bracket.


No. 12 Liberty Over No. 5 Mississippi State Liberty has won 10 of the last 11 games. The Flames topped Lipscomb in a major rivalry game in the Big South title game. UCLA is far from a tournament team, but it does point to Liberty’s caliber that they beat the Bruins on the road by 15 points. Liberty held their own with a solid non-conference schedule against Vanderbilt, Georgetown and Alabama.

No. 12 Murray State Over No. 5 Marquette Ja Morant is the best player in the NCAA tournament not playing for Duke. The Racers have won 11 straight games including upsetting Belmont in the Ohio Valley Conference. Murray State does not have a signature win against a major power program, but did play both Alabama and Auburn close. The Racers are unlikely to be overwhelmed by the moment, but will need Morant to carry them to a couple wins.

No. 11 St. Mary’s Over No. 6 Villanova- Gonzaga losing to St. Mary’s was one of the most shocking losses of the season, but the Gaels are better than many people think. Here is a snippet of St. Mary’s non-conference schedule: New Mexico St. (W), Mississippi St. (L), Harvard (L), Cal (W) and LSU (L).

St. Mary’s also played Gonzaga three times this season and will come into the tournament ready to go. St. Mary’s is one of the best shooting teams in the country at No. 32, shooting 37.9 percent from behind the three-point line. The Gaels could end up shooting their way to the Sweet 16.

No. 14 Georgia State Over No. 3 Houston- The Panthers are no strangers to the NCAA tournament. I thought they had a chance to make some noise last year but came up short against Cincinnati. D’Marcus Simonds is averaging 18.9 points per game and gives them a go-to player for March. Georgia Stae already has wins over Georgia and Alabama this season.

No. 12 New Mexico State Over No. 5 Auburn The Aggies are as hot as any team in the country. New Mexico State has two wins over Washington State and lost by only three points at Kansas. The Aggies feature a balanced scoring attack and bring 2018 tournament experience.

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