By: Hunter Schmidt
Seven weeks. That’s how close we are to Selection Sunday when the committee will announce the 68 teams that will be participating in March Madness this year. USC Upstate was officially eliminated from the field this weekend. My opinion is that there are about six teams who can win the tournament this year, but crazy things always happen in a single-game elimination style tournament. With that being said, let’s look at some futures numbers and try to find some value.
These odds will range widely so if you place a bet, be sure to shop around for the best odds. These odds are from Bovada.
These are just the top 10 teams by the odds, so be sure to check out the entire list: https://www.bovada.lv/sports/basketball/college-basketball
- Duke +170
- Michigan +750
- Tennessee +750
- Virginia +800
- Gonzaga +1000
- Kentucky +1200
- Michigan State +1200
- Kansas +1400
- Nevada +2000
- North Carolina +2400
DUKE is a heavy favorite and rightfully so with the best coach in college hoops along with two guys who will be top three draft picks in June. Don’t lay the juice at +175, as you’d get better value parlaying them every game in March.
MICHIGAN is one of the best defensive teams in the entire country and can completely shut down teams for 5-10 minute stretches like we saw at Indiana the other night. John Beilein is finally getting the coaching recognition he deserves after several Final Fours. This team will be in the mix once again for a national title.
TENNESSEE finally got back into the #1 ranking for the first time since the Bruce Pearl days. Rick Barnes has done an unbelievable job with recruiting guys that work hard and fit his system. Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield are big time players, but Jordan Bone could be the piece that determines how deep this team goes in March. I would be shocked if Tennessee doesn’t make the Final Four.
VIRGINIA: the only one seed to ever lose to a sixteen. That’s how people remember them when feeling out brackets in March, but don’t be fooled, this is the best offensive team that Tony Bennett has ever had at Virginia. Braxton Key, a transfer from Alabama, is a big time play-maker that they didn’t have last year. De’Andre Hunter broke his left wrist and didn’t play in the game against UMBC, which was the biggest loss that Virginia could’ve had last year. He changes things on the defensive end and forces opponents into taking tough shots. Kyle Guy is one of the best shooters in the country. Tony Bennett and the freshman Kihei Clark could be instrumental in helping Virginia get back to the Elite Eight.
GONZAGA just got Killian Tillie back and he changes things completely for the Bulldogs, as he is one of the best players in the country. This team beat Duke in Maui without him and has a lot of firepower on the offensive side with Simeon product Zach Norvell Jr, Rui Hachimura, and a cast of others. Gonzaga will likely end up a one seed barring an upset in WCC play.
My guess is that one of these five teams will be cutting down the nets on April 8th. That doesn’t mean there isn’t value further down the board with some long shots that just might be winners.
This team is senior-laden with Jordan Caroline coming back, along with the Martin twins. This team lacks the shooting they had last year and have shown lapses during conference play, but I fully expect them to be ready to compete every night in March. Nevada will struggle against other teams that can put up a lot of points during the tournament, but they have players capable of taking over a game which is a great recipe for success in March.
Iowa State +7000
This is a team that already knocked off Kansas, but I believe they’re finally starting to gel after a few games with Lindell Wigginton back. This team can shoot the lights out with young scorers such as Talen Horton-Tucker and Wigginton. Add the two veteran transfers, Ben Jacobson and Marial Shayok, and you have a team that has both young talent and experience. I expect this team to make it to the second weekend of the tournament, and depending on the match-ups, advance even further.
This team has a lot of youth and lost yesterday at the Garden to a team that has under-performed all year in Illinois. Maryland has big time play-makers in Anthony Cowan Jr. and Bruno Fernando. This young team needs to keep improving as the season goes on. Aaron Wiggins can stroke it from three and fellow freshman Jalen Smith was a top 20 prospect last year. The one thing that gives me hesitance with this team is their coach Mark Turgeon. I don’t believe that he can game plan with the best of them when it really matters in the Sweet 16 and beyond.
Mike Hopkins spent 22 years at Syracuse learning the zone. Washington has won nine straight games and they’re only giving up 61 points per game this season. Jaylen Nowell is one of the best guards that has flew under the radar because he plays on the West Coast. This is a long shot play that should make the tourney which I can’t say for other teams with similar odds. I’d look to hedge if they make it to the Sweet 16.
- Virginia 1u
- Gonzaga 1u
- Nevada .5u
- Iowa State .5u
- Maryland .25u
- Washington .25u
Cover Photo Via: Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress
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