As teams in the 2017 NCAA tournament prepare to tip off, college basketball experts are weighing in on who they think will pull off a first round upset.
There are some matchups this year where underdogs really have a fighting chance, and by some expert opinions, they may even have an advantage over their opponents. Below are five first round upsets that have a highly likelihood of happening.
No. 11 Rhode Island over No. 6 Creighton, Midwest Region
The Rams have won their last eight games, including the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament championship over the VCU Rams. As Bleacher Report contributor Paul Kasabian wrote, "they are on fire right now."
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Rams guard E.C. Matthews returned this season after tearing his ACL during the 2014-2015 season and has been a force on the floor. The junior turned up the heat, averaging 19 points in the last four games.
The Bluejays, on the other hand, haven't been the same since losing All-American candidate Maurice Watson to a torn ACL in January. They started 18-1 with the senior on the court, and have gone just 8-8 without him, losing five of their last nine games heading into the tournament.
No. 12 Middle Tennessee over No. 5 Minnesota, South Region
Middle Tennessee racked up 30 wins throughout the regular season against just four losses, heading into the tournament on a 10-game winning streak.
Last year, the Blue Raiders famously knocked off No. 2-seeded Michigan State in the most stunning result of the first weekend. They return virtually all of their contributors from that team, a year older with some impressive wins under their belt. The Conference USA champs walloped No. 9-seeded Vanderbilt by 24 points on the road back in December, and also defeated fellow No. 12 seed UNC Wilmington during nonconference play.
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Minnesota, meanwhile, were overrated by the selection committee as a No. 5 seed. They beat that same Vanderbilt team by just four points during nonconference play, and don't match up well against Middle Tennessee as one of the poorest rebounding teams in the field.
ESPN's BPI gives the Blue Raiders a 46 percent chance of advancing to the round of 32, the highest probability for any No. 12 seed.
No. 10 Wichita State over No. 7 Dayton, South Region
Since Selection Sunday, many experts have noted Wichita State was under-seeded. The Shockers are coming off a 30 win season and rank No. 13 in total scoring this season. According to Ken Pomeroy's rating system, Wichita has a 75 percent chance to win.
Earlier this month ESPN's Jay Bilas highlighted some of the Shockers' key strengths:
Wichita State is damn good. Having Conner Frankamp move off the ball gives Gregg Marshall two point guards. Good depth. Solid on offense.
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) March 5, 2017
Dayton has an experienced team roster with plenty of seniors leading the charge, however the Flyers head into the matchup following two consecutive losses to George Washington and Davidson.
No. 13 East Tennessee State over No. 4 Florida, East Region
Florida center John Egbunu went down with a knee injury last month, and the Gators have struggled to adjust without the junior's intimidating figure (6'11", 255 lbs.) patrolling the paint. They've split their six games since the injury, far off the pace of their 21-5 record before Egbunu was lost for the season.
Meanwhile, East Tennessee State loves to play at the fast pace Florida usually tries to push while also possessing the requisite size needed to compete down low that many other low-major teams lack. Underdogs usually have to knock down a bunch of threes to pull off an upset, and guard T.J. Cromer fills that role for them with aplomb -- he knocked down nine three-pointers in the Buccaneers' victory over UNC Greensboro to win the Southern Conference tournament and get into the Big Dance.
No. 11 Kansas State over No. 6 Cincinnati, South Region
Every year since the First Four was initiated in 2011 -- forcing the last four at-large teams to participate in a play-in game to make the round of 64 -- one of the two teams to win have managed to knock off a higher seed to reach the round of 32.
Interestingly, the two No. 6 seeds that will play the victorious at-large teams are the only schools to qualify from the American Athletic Conference -- Southern Methodist and Cincinnati. Both teams played exceedingly weak schedules, and could be ripe for an upset. The Kansas State Wildcats seem primed to pounce on Cincinnati after disposing of Wake Forest Tuesday night.
As CBS Sports analyst Chip Patterson noted, the Wildcats' pair of forwards in Wesley Iwundu and DJ Johnson held their own against a tough Demon Deacon frontcourt. They should be able to do the same against the Bearcats to continue the streak of successful First Four teams.