2023 March Madness: NCAA Tournament First Round Matchups

Social Navigation

2023 March Madness: NCAA Tournament First Round Matchups


We’ve finally made it to that magical month of March and the madness will tip this Thursday. The popularity of the NCAA Tournament is at an all-time high with office pools and bracket challenges taking over our time. When filling out the bracket, we all want to get off to a hot start and pick some upsets in the process. With that in mind, check out all the opening round matchup winning percentages below.

NCAA Tournament Odds

NCAA Tournament First Round Matchups

1 Seed vs. 16 Seed: 147-1 (99.3%)

This is without a doubt the easiest matchup to pick when filling out brackets. There has been just ONE 16 seed to defeat a 1 seed (UMBC over Virginia – 2018) since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

South1 Alabama vs. 16 Texas A&M CC/SE Missouri State winner
Midwest1 Houston vs. 16 Northern Kentucky
East1 Purdue vs. 16 Texas Southern/Fairleigh Dickinson winner
West1 Kansas vs. 16 Howard

8 Seed vs. 9 Seed: 72-76 (48.6%)

The 8 vs. 9 matchup is quite possibly the hardest NCAA Tournament first round matchup to pick. It often pits two good and very equal high-major programs against one another.

South8 Maryland vs. 9 West Virginia
Midwest8 Iowa vs. 9 Auburn
East8 Memphis vs. 9 Florida Atlantic
West8 Arkansas vs. 9 Illinois

5 Seed vs. 12 Seed: 95-53 (64.2%)

Oh, the infamous 5 vs. 12 matchup. This has become the most popular first round upset pick. At least one 12 seed has beaten a 5 seed in 32 of the 37 NCAA Tournaments since expanding in 1985.

South5 San Diego State vs. 12 College of Charleston
Midwest5 Miami (FL) vs. 12 Drake
East5 Duke vs. 12 Oral Roberts
West5 Saint Mary’s vs. 12 VCU

4 Seed vs. 13 Seed: 117-31 (79.1%)

Number 4 seeds used to make quick work of the 13 seed but we’ve seen a much more competitive matchup recently.  Five 13 seeds have upset a 4 seed (31% of the matchups) over the last four NCAA Tournaments.

South4 Virginia vs. 13 Furman
Midwest4 Indiana vs. 13 Kent State
East4 Tennessee vs. 13 Louisiana
West4 Connecticut vs. 13 Iona

6 Seed vs. 11 Seed: 91-57 (61.5%)

The higher seed has unsurprisingly won the majority of games here. But similarly to the above first round matchup, the last few years have seen the tide turn. 11 seeds have beaten 6 seeds twice in six of the last seven tournaments. Whoa!

South6 Creighton vs. 11 NC State
Midwest6 Iowa State vs. 11 Mississippi State/Pittsburgh winner
East6 Kentucky vs. 11 Providence
West6 TCU vs. 11 Arizona State/Nevada winner

3 Seed vs. 14 Seed: 126-22 (85.1%)

This matchup isn’t as popular of an upset pick as others, but it does happen. At least one 14 seed has beaten a 3 seed in over half the NCAA Tournaments since the expansion. And the last time it happened was when Abilene Christian beat Texas in 2021.

South3 Baylor vs. 14 UC Santa Barbara
Midwest3 Xavier vs. 14 Kennesaw State
East3 Kansas State vs. 14 Montana State
West3 Gonzaga vs. 14 Grand Canyon

7 Seed vs. 10 Seed: 89-58 (60.5%)

*2021 Oregon vs. VCU was ruled a no-contest because of Covid protocols.

This is another really competitive matchup each year with either two high-major or a mid-major champ going against a middling high-major squad. The higher seed has traditionally held the advantage here but this year, all four matchups have point spreads within 3 points.

South7 Missouri vs. 10 Utah State
Midwest7 Texas A&M vs. 10 Penn State
East7 Michigan State vs. 10 USC
West7 Northwestern vs. 10 Boise State

2 Seed vs. 15 Seed: 138-10 (93.2%)

Overall, 2 seeds have owned this matchup winning a whopping 93% of the time. That said, a 15 seed has upset a 2 seed in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments. Both of those schools (Oral Roberts ‘21 and Saint Peter’s ‘22) advanced past the opening weekend as well.

South2 Arizona vs. 15 Princeton
Midwest2 Texas vs. 15 Colgate
East2 Marquette vs. 15 Vermont
West2 UCLA vs. UNC Ashville

March Madness is here everyone! Good luck picking all your NCAA Tournament First Round matchups.

Author: Brian Twining

Just a regular guy who absolutely loves sports. I've been playing, watching, and recreationally betting on sports for over 30 years. My favorite sports to attack at the sportsbook are Football (NFL/NCAAF), College Basketball, and most recently - the NASCAR Cup Series. I'm not an "expert" and I don't have or use betting models, but I do put in the research and apply that to my wagers which are mostly backed by the trending data with of course a little, as Gibbs from the show NCIS would say "Gut Feeling" contributing to the side chosen. Sports betting should be fun and enjoyable so always play within your means and NEVER chase your losses. You can follow me on Twitter @Brian_Twining - Let's try and win some bets!