March Madness upset predictions 2024: Which 10 seed is most likely to win in first round?

Getting the 7-10 split right is a necessary part of a successful bracket. 

Two First Four matchups will determine two of those matchups in the 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. 

No. 10 Colorado State takes on No. 10 Virginia in the First Four in Dayton at 9:10 p.m. on Tuesday. The winner plays No. 7 Texas in the Midwest Region. No. 10 Colorado plays No. 10 Boise State at 9:10 p.m.. on Wednesday. The winner plays No. 7 Florida in the South Region on Friday. 

The other two matchups are set. No. 10 Drake plays No. 7 Washington State in the East Region. No. 7 Dayton takes on No. 10 Nevada in the West Region. 

The track record of 10 seeds in the NCAA tournaments is serviceable. The No. 7 seed is 93-59— a winning percentage of .612 —  in the first round. 

A total of 24 No. 10 seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16, nine made the Elite Eight — including Miami in 2022. Syracuse made the Final Four as a No. 10 seed in 2016. 

Which No. 10 seed is best equipped for a run in 2024? 

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No. 10 Colorado State/Virginia vs. No.  7 Texas 

BetMGM odds: TBD

Why this can happen: Colorado State is a 2.5-point favorite against Virginia – a team that slipped in the tournament despite being projected to be a First Four Out team according to the overwhelming majority of analysts. The Cavaliers’ style has not changed – they rank third in the NCAA in scoring defense at 59.6 points per game. Guard Reece Beekman (14.5 ppg.) is the leading scorer, and Isaaac McKneely (15.5 ppg.) shoots 44.9% from 3-point range. Colorado State has four players who average double figures, led by Isaiah Stevens (16.5 ppg.). The Rams are 2-7 S/U when limited to less than 70 points. The winner gets Texas, a team that was 5-5 S/U in its last 10 games. 

No. 10 Colorado/Boise State vs. No. 7 Florida 

BetMGM odds: TBD

Colorado is a 2.5-point favorite against the Broncos. Junior K.J. Simpson (19.6 ppg.) is a prolific scorer who shot 47.3% from 3-point range during an impressive Pac-12 tournament run that pushed the Buffaloes off the bubble. Boise State was under-seeded. The Broncos feature Tyson Degenhart (17.0 ppg.), a 6-7 forward who averaged 6.2 rebounds per game. Boise State was 2-3 S/U  as an underdog of five points or less. Colorado was 4-2 S/U when favored by five points or less. The winner gets Florida – which ranked sixth in the NCAA with 85.1 ppg. 

EXPERT PICKS: DeCourcy (UConn) | Bender (UConn) | Iyer (UConn) | Yanchulis (South Carolina women)

No. 10 Nevada vs. No. 7 Dayton

BetMGM odds: Nevada -1.5

Nevada is the third Mountain West Conference team that is on the No. 10 line – which is a product of how the committee treated a six-bid league. Steve Alford is making his second tournament appearance with the Wolfpack after being knocked out in the First Four last season. Jarod Lucas (17.8 ppg.) is an elite scorer who has 20 or more points in four of his last six games. Dayton was an at-large bid, and the Flyers have a high-ranking combination. The offense flows through forward DaRon Holmes II (20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds). Dayton would have been a much-higher seed if it did not split its last six games. This would technically not be an upset knowing the Wolfpack are favored. 

No. 10 Drake vs. No. 7 Washington State 

BetMGM odds: Drake -1.5

This is another toss-up, and with good reason. Drake is one of the most-popular bracket busters in this year’s tournament. Tucker DeVries (21.8 ppg.) ranks sixth in the NCAA in scoring, and he had 13 games with 25 points or more. When Drake is on – like they were against Indiana State in the Missouri Valley Conference final – they are tough to beat. Washington State is not a push-over, however. Senior forward Isaac Jones (15.4 ppg.) and guard Myles Rice (15.1 ppg.) can score, and Washington State has a top-50 scoring defense (66.9 ppg.). 

HISTORY OF UPSETS BY SEED:
16 vs. 115 vs. 2 | 14 vs. 3 | 13 vs. 4 | 12 vs. 5

Which 10 seed is the best bet for an upset?

Drake and Nevada will be popular picks – and mainly because they are favored. The Bulldogs also are a trendy Sweet 16 pick if they draw No. 2 Iowa State in the second round. Drake was 3-1 S/U and 3-1 ATS when favored by three points or less. The Wolfpack was 2-0 S/U and 2-0 ATS when favored by three points or less. 

If there is a 7-10 split, then those two would make sense as the upset picks, and Nevada is closer to home in Salt Lake City against Dayton. 

We’ll wait on the First Four matchups before proceeding with picks there, though a potential Virginia-Texas matchup would have our attention as a possible upset pick. 

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