Busting Brackets

10 teams vulnerable to be upset in the first round of March Madness

There is an elite tier of college basketball this season, but it's an exclusive club. If your team is on the outside of that five or six-team group, then they could be vulnerable to a Round of 64 exit in the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari
Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari / Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA TODAY
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Just getting off the bubble and into the NCAA Tournament is only half the battle for college basketball teams in March. The highly-seeded ones, need to win games once they’re in the big dance, but these 10 teams may not keep up that end of the bargain with their school and their fanbase. 

The transfer portal has spread talent all across the country which means mid-major conferences are better than ever before and are live underdogs in the early rounds of March Madness. Every year we have at least one Cinderella, but this year, with a group of vulnerable teams projected to fill the 3-8 seeds in the bracket, we could have multiple feet that fit the glass slipper. 

Here are my 10 teams liable to get upset in the Round of 64, starting with last year’s tournament darling. 

24-7 (14-4). Net: 33 Projected Seed: 8. team. . . . 10. 2276. FAU.

Dusty May’s team captivated the country throughout March Madness last season with a run to the Final Four but with a move up the AAC, the shine came off the Owls a little bit. May brought back much of his core, including leading scorer Johnell Davis and defensive anchor, Vladislav Goldin, but the Owls have fallen off a cliff defensively. 

Last year, FAU finished the season 34th in Kenpom-adjusted defensive efficiency, but heading into March Madness, the Owls are hovering around 106th. The Owls are 89th in possessions per game, so don’t play particularly fast, yet allow 73.3 points a game which is 229th. 

May will still get one of the top jobs in college basketball and I respect him coming back to make another run with players like Davis and Goldin, but this team doesn't have the defensive backbone it had in 2023, and after a first-round exit, May will be off to Louisville, Michigan, or even Florida State if Leonard Hamilton retires.