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SBN Reacts: Can New Mexico State pull off the upset against the Huskies?

Plus, see how voters view UConn’s chances of reaching the Sweet 16

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Connecticut vs Seton Hall Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

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There are all sorts of upsets as part of March Madness but perhaps none are as common as the 12-seed over 5-seed upset. Since the tournament expanded in 1985, a 12-over-5 upset has occurred in 31 of the 36 ensuing NCAA Tournaments — including three 12 seeds winning their first round matchups in 2019. Last season, there was just one 12-over-5 upset, with Oregon State defeating Tennessee 70-56.

After polling college basketball fans across the country, SBN Reacts voters took their guess at this year’s 12-over-5 upset. While Indiana came in first at 28%, New Mexico State, UConn’s first round opponent, was not far behind at 27%.

While more than a quarter of voters think the Aggies have what it takes to pull off the upset, nearly as many think UConn can get to the Sweet 16. No. 4 seed Arkansas is the clear favorite of the voters to likely take on No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga for a trip to the Elite 8, but the Huskies are the clear second-place favorite, coming in at 25 percent while NMSU comes in at just 13 percent.

The Razorbacks may be the higher seed and may be the voters’ favorite to make it past the second round, but their first round opponent, No. 13 Vermont, is a trendy upset pick as well. Should Arkansas get by the Catamounts and UConn survive the Aggies, the second round matchup between the two should be interesting — while the Razorbacks are the higher seed, the Huskies rank two spots higher in KenPom. All in all, it won’t be easy for any of these four teams to get out of the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York with a pair of wins.

While the Buffalo section of the West region is no joke, Gonzaga is the major reason why voters picked the West region as the hardest tournament path this March. The Bulldogs, led by Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren, currently rank first in KenPom and are looking to avenge their loss in the title game last year. Aside from Gonzaga, the West features four teams in the top 20 of KenPom — Texas Tech, Duke, UConn and Arkansas. Nearly one third of voters (31 percent) selected the West as the most competitive region in the 2022 tournament.

If the Huskies do manage to get by NMSU and either Arkansas or Vermont, they’ll have to face one of the toughest opponents they have faced in years in Gonzaga. But if UConn is able to get by the Bulldogs, they’d quickly become one of the favorites to cut down the nets for the fifth time in program history.

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