March Madness upset predictions 2022: Which 13 seed is most likely to win in first round?

March Madness upset predictions 2022: Which 13 seed is most likely to win in first round?

The No. 13 seed was lucky last season. 

North Texas and Ohio pulled off upsets against No. 4 seeds in last year’s tournament, and the 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament has a few possible lucky No. 13’s this year. 

The track record 13 seeds in the NCAA tournaments isn’t great. The No. 4 seed is 113-31 – a winning percentage of .784 – in the first round. A total of six No. 13 seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16 – and none made it to the Elite Eight. 

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That list includes Valparaiso (1998), Richmond (1998), Oklahoma (1999), Bradley (2006), Ohio (2012) and La Salle (2013). Ohio pushed No. 1 North Carolina to the limit in a 73-65 overtime thriller in that 2012 run. 

This year’s group has a combined record of 109-25, winning percentage of .813. Which No. 13 seed is best equipped for a run? Sporting News takes a closer look: 

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No. 13 Vermont vs. No. 4 Arkansas 

FanDuel odds: Arkansas -5 (O/U 139.5) 

Why this could happen: Vermont is a solid basketball team that relies on a top-10 scoring defense that allows just 60.3 points per game. The Catamounts are making their 10th appearance in the Big Dance, and Ryan Davis (17.2 ppg.) and Ben Shangu (16.2 ppg.) are the leading scorers on an all-senior starting five. If Vermont can control the tempo early and keep the Razorbacks on the perimeter, where they have shot 30.7% for the season, it could be tight in the second half. 

No. 13 Akron vs. No. 4 UCLA 

FanDuel odds: UCLA -14 (O/U 128) 

Why this could happen: The Zips made a surprise run through the MAC tournament with victories against Toledo and Kent State. Coach John Groce led Ohio to a Sweet 16 appearance in 2012; the last time a MAC team advanced to that round. Ali Ali and Xavier Castaneda are double-figure scorers, and Enrique Freeman averages 10.8 rebounds per game. Akron is one of those teams that is hot at the right time, and Groce has proven he can lead this run before. 

EXPERT PICKS: DeCourcy (Arizona) | Bender (Kentucky) | Fagan (Gonzaga) | Pohnl (Arizona)

No. 13 Chattanooga vs. No. 4 Illinois 

FanDuel odds: Illinois -7 (O/U 135.5) 

Why this could happen: David Jean-Baptiste’s buzzer beater in the Southern Conference final was the highlight of conference championship weekend, and the Mocs have a solid team that can challenge the Illini on both ends. Malachi Smith is a prolific scorer at 20.1 points per game, and Chattanooga has the 20th most-efficient offense in Division I. Coach Lamont Paris broke through in his fifth season, and Illinois faces more pressure after being bounced from the second round last season. Illinois is 4-3 in its last seven games. 

No. 13 South Dakota State vs. No. 4 Providence 

FanDuel odds: Providence -2 (O/U 149.5)

Why this could happen: Look at that line again. The Jackrabbits won 30 games, didn’t lose a game in the Summit League and rock the best 3-point shooting team in the nation at 44.9%. Guard Baylor Scheirman (16.2 ppg.) and forward Douglas Wilson (16.5 ppg.). Providence has limited opponents to a 31.2% clip behind the arc, so South Dakota State will need to hit those opportunities. The Friars are going to score, and this should come down to the wire. 

HISTORY OF UPSETS BY SEED:
15 vs. 2 | 14 vs. 3 | 13 vs. 4 | 12 vs. 5

Which 13 seed is the best bet for an upset?

Vermont will be a trendy pick, but the Catamounts are just 2-7 in the first round in their previous nine appearances. Arkansas also has a 94.4 defensive rating as a team. The Razorbacks could blow that open in the second half. 

Akron made a nice run, but there is a reason for the high spread against the Bruins. UCLA has the core back from last year’s Final Four team, and Akron averages less than 10 offensive rebounds per game. 

Chattanooga has an excellent makeup, and that could shine against Illinois. But they will have to provide an answer for Illinois center Kofi Cockburn, who averages 21.1 points and 10.6 rebounds. 

South Dakota State has the best chance. The Jackrabbits are in their sixth tournament appearance in the last 10 seasons, and they have won in the first round twice. Eric Henderson has his best team yet, and they are the best play to advance to the second round. 

For more insight on the 4-13 matchups — and every other matchup — check out the TeamRankings Predictor Tool below. TeamRankings subscribers also receive access to customized, data-driven picks for their bracket pools.