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Amna Subhan | | March 17, 2023

4 women's basketball teams ripe to pull off first round March Madness upsets

2023 March Madness women's predictions: Autumn Johnson makes her bracket picks

Upsets are intrinsic to March, and this season there are four teams in the women's NCAA tournament ready to go on a run. Last season's rendition saw a record seven upsets with a No. 10 season reaching the Elite Eight, and this year's tournament could follow suit. 

Here are four teams on first-round upset watch:

1. No. 11 UNLV 

UNLV hasn’t tasted defeat since Dec. 18. That marks 22 straight wins, including 18-0 in the Mountain West, making the Lady Rebels a prime candidate to pull off an upset.

First, UNLV will face No. 6 Michigan in the first round. The Wolverines have struggled down the stretch by losing four of their last six. 

Desi-Rae Young paces UNLV with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Essence Booker (13.2 ppg, four assists) and Nneka Obiazor (12.4 ppg, 6.5 rebounds) also average double digits.

📺: The best, multi-screen way to watch the best March Madness Round of 64 women's games

2. No. 12 FGCU 

There are two teams on the bracket with 32 wins — South Carolina (32-0) and FGCU (32-3). 

The Eagles aren’t new to upsets, either. Last year they took down fifth-seeded Virginia as a No. 12 seed despite a 42-point performance from Hokies star Elizabeth Kitley. 

The Eagles have a seasoned team led by senior Tishara Morehouse (15.9 ppg, 4.6 assists). They’ll face No. 5 Washington State in the first round, but the Pac-12 tournament champions Cougars pose a challenge as well. 

3. No. 11 Mississippi State 

Mississippi State is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2019 and ready for an upset. 

The Bulldogs blew through the First Four against Illinois 70-56. Next, they’ll face No. 6 Creighton in the tournament.

Mississippi State runs off a tough defense that forced undefeated South Carolina to work for one of its only single-digit wins. Jessika Carter tops Mississippi State in scoring and rebounding; and she did just that in the First Four with a 22-point, 9-rebound performance. 

🗓 SCHEDULE: Every tournament game, how to watch

4. No. 11 Middle Tennessee 

Middle Tennessee has emerged as a team to watch by cracking the AP top 25 multiple times this season. Now the Blue Raiders have a chance to continue that in the NCAA tournament.  

The Blue Raiders are on a 10-game winning streak. In the first round, they match up against No. 6 Colorado who had a rough end to the season. The Buffaloes lost three out of its last five outings culminating with an early exit in the Pac-12 tournament. 

Middle Tennessee is a deep team led by Kseniya Malashka (15.2 ppg, 5.9 rebounds) — who comes off the bench. Savannah Wheeler follows closely behind with 15.1 points and three assists. 

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