March Madness First Round Upsets: Pick These 3 Underdogs To Bust Brackets In 2021 NCAA Tournament

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2021

The Game Day’s Nick Pedone predicts 3 March Madness First Round Upsets. These NCAA Tournament 2021 upset picks could bust brackets — unless you predict them to upend the favorites.

The easiest way to get ahead in your 2021 NCAA Tournament bracket pool is to pick some upsets that your opponents did not have seeing. This year is no exception, so here are my top three 2021 first-round upsets.

Read our full 2021 March Madness Picks & Predictions Guide.

WIN A PS5 if you create the winning bracket in Monkey Mania, and you can win other free DFS money depending on where you finish. Enter your 2021 NCAA Tournament bracket over on Monkey Knife Fight.

2021 March Madness First Round Upsets

All lines and odds courtesy of BetMGM, current as of Wednesday, March 17, at 3 p.m. ET.

3. No. 12 UC Santa Barbara over No. 5 Creighton (West Region)

There’s no better way to kick this off with a No. 12 seed upsetting a five seed.

This West Region matchup all boils down to what version of Creighton shows up. They are fresh of the heels of a 25-point loss at the hands of Georgetown during the Big East Tournament. Even before that blowout, the Bluejays barely snuck by UConn and were beaten by Villanova at the beginning of March.

UC Santa Barbara is red-hot, rolling over their last five opponents and winning 18 of their last 19 games. As good as Creighton is from behind the arc, they haven’t shown much confidence recently, so I had no problem picking this upset for my bracket.

March Madness First Round Upsets: 3 Underdogs To Advance In 2021 NCAA Tournament include UC Santa Barbara over Creighton

JaQuori McLaughlin, shown here in 2019, is UC Santa Barbara’s leading scorer for 2020-2021, and the Gauchos have a legit case for a 2021 March Madness First Round upset over Creighton in the West.

2. No. 11 Utah State over No. 6 Texas Tech (South Region)

No, I did not just pick this upset because Utah State’s Marco Anthony wears jersey No. 44 in honor of the “4 for 4" meal at Wendy’s, an elite combo deal.

Utah State is a big, strong and frustrating team that is built on scrappiness. Defensively, the Aggies are rock-solid, allowing their opponents to shoot just 39 percent from the field. They rebound tremendously well on both sides of the floor, second in the nation in rebound margins.

The Aggies have no problem playing and winning low-scoring affairs. The Over/Under for this game is set at 130.5, and Utah State is just 4-point underdogs, which sweetened the deal on this potential upset.

1. No. 13 Ohio University over No. 4 Virginia (West Region)

The Virginia Cavaliers are still in quarantine after missing the entire ACC Tournament due to COVID-19 protocols. Virginia will not arrive in Indianapolis until Friday, as they are still in quarantine this week.

When this game tips off on Saturday night, the Cavaliers will have gone well over a week without playing competitive basketball.

To make matters worse, the Bobcats from Ohio University are on fire right now, blowing out Kent State before easily taking down Buffalo in the Mid-American Championship. The Bobcats are tremendously balanced offensively, with all five starters averaging double-digit scoring per game. OU ranks thirteenth in the nation in effective field goal percentage at nearly 59 percent.

Just 7.5-point underdogs, with COVID-19 working against Virginia, Ohio has the momentum to keep dancing as a prime March Madness First-Round Upset pick.

🏀 After reading ‘March Madness First Round Upsets: Predicting 3 Underdogs To Advance In 2021 NCAA Tournament,’ check out our complete 2021 March Madness Bracket Picks & Betting Guide with bracket predictions, upsets and sleepers. 🏀


Tech Dev

Related articles


Get $1,500 in Bonus Bets

5 stars

Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets or First Bet Safety Net

5 stars

Bet $10, Get $200 in Bonus Bets

5 stars

Get A Bonus Bet Up to $1,000

5 stars

Bet $5, Get $200 in Bonus Bets

5 stars

Get A Bonus Bet Up To $250

5 stars

Bet $5, Get $200 in Bonus Bets Every Day for 5 days!

5 stars

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, please call 1-800-GAMBLER.

21+ and present in OH. Gambling Problem? Call or text 1-800-GAMBLER (CO, DC, IL, IN, LA, MD, MS, NJ, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY).

Call 877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) (NY).

Please Gamble Responsibly. Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (KS, NV), 1-800-327-5050 (MA), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI).

All betting content on is exclusively intended for audience members 21 years and older who are permitted to gamble in legal states. The Game Day may earn revenue from site visitor referrals to betting services.

Responsible Gaming: Many sportsbooks offer ways to encourage responsible gaming, including the establishment of limits to deposits, spending, and time dedicated to betting.

The Game Day is a TGD Marketing Ltd. endeavor.