Mad About March: 1-23-23
Mad about March
With the football season nearly in the rearview mirror and the NBA and NHL playoffs still off in the distance, it is time to focus on the college basketball season. March is not that far away, which of course is one of the best times to bet on sports. With that in mind, I will give a weekly update on the NCAA landscape. I’ll focus on the top-four likely #1 seeds and four teams that have a shot to earn that distinction. I’ll also keep an update on each of the top ten teams' odds at winning the National Championship. So let’s take a look at our opening week of college basketball top teams.
This week’s Top Four in the college basketball landscape:
#1. Purdue - The Boilermakers have fluctuated between the top four spots for several weeks. Purdue will still need to get through the rest of a tough, Big Ten schedule. The team still has to travel to Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin amongst others. The Boilermakers' resume' is already top-notch with wins over Marquette, West Virginia, Gonzaga and Duke among others. At 19-1 with 11 games left plus the Big Ten Tournament, Purdue has a very good shot at 30 wins, which should secure a #1 seed.
Odds to win NCAA Title: +1000
#2. Houston - The Cougars will probably fall out of the top spot in the country after losing to Temple on Saturday. Barring another upset, Houston can very likely reel off 10-straight wins heading into the regular season finale at Memphis. Houton owns non-conference wins over Oregon and Virginia this season. With the AAC not as highly ranked as the power-five conferences, the Cougars will likely need to win the regular season and league tournament title in order to get a #1 seed. Anything less might likely mean a #2 seed.
Odds to win NCAA Title: +600
#3. Alabama - This seed will likely come down to the eventual head-to-head meeting withTennessee later this season and/or which of the two teams wins the SEC tournament championship. For now, Alabama gets the nod with wins over then #1 UNC, Michigan State and then #1 Houston. The Crimson Tide have two tough road games left; at Tennessee and at Auburn. You can almost pencil Alabama in for at least a two seed at this point.
Odds to win NCAA Title: +1000
#4. Virginia - Virginia has returned to prominence and resides in one of the top conferences in the country. After reaching the top spot earlier this season, Virginia lost three of five games. Since then the team has won five straight. With 11 games left, the Cavaliers toughest tests will likely be at Virginia Tech, at North Carolina and Duke and Clemson at home. If the Hoos can finish as the regular season champs and make it to at least the finals of the ACC Tournament, they will have a strong case for a top seed.
Odds to win NCAA Title: +2200
Best of the Rest:
#5. Kansas - They’ve lost two straight games heading into a battle with Baylor. The defending champs will be in a strong position to overtake Virginia for a #1 spot if they win the Big 12 title.
Odds to win NCAA Title: +1100
#6. Tennessee - Again, if the Vols can overtake Alabama with a win later this season and take the SEC title, they’ll be in a strong position to earn a top spot. They have wins over Kansas and Maryland already this season.
Odds to win NCAA Title: +1400
#7. Arizona - The Wildcats have three tough games left in the regular season at Utah, USC and UCLA. They already have wins over USC, UCLA and a big non-conference win over Tennessee. If they run the table and win the Pac-12, they’ll have an argument for a top seed.
Odds to win NCAA Title: +2000
#8. UCLA - The Bruins are nearly in the same boat as Arizona. The Bruins had their 14-game winning streak snapped by Arizona but still have just three losses on the season and wins over Maryland and Kentucky. If they run the table, they’ll be a viable #1 seed option.
Odds to win NCAA Title: +1300
Best Future Odds:
A quick glance at the future odds right now and I’m intrigued by Virginia and the +2200. Their head coach, Tony Bennett, already has a title under his belt and has the Hoos playing at a championship level on the defensive end. If Virginia gets its offense humming, the team will be tough to beat in March. Keep an eye on the Hoos efforts against UNC and Duke, two big teams that can pound the glass. If Virginia holds its own in those contests, watch out during the NCAA Tournament.
In parenthesis, NCAA Tournament title odds. Odds courtesy of Draftkings.com
By Mark Ruelle