It’s March Madness time! College basketball fans all across the country begin filling out their brackets in preparation for the NCAA tournament.
While contributing a few dollars into your office pool may satisfy your urge to wager, others will look online for ways to bet on the NCAA tournament. You could say we’ve listed our “Final Four” picks below, however, these picks are meant to serve as a guide for you to bet on the eventual tournament champion.
Kentucky – Can Anyone Beat the Wildcats?
The Kentucky Wildcats (31-0) are the obvious favorite to win the national championship at 11/10 betting odds. With a young roster of future NBA talent, the Wildcats are poised to make another championship run. Most sportsbooks like Betonline has the odds pretty even money at 6-5.
Student athletes such as Devon Booker and Carl Anthony-Townes, along with the Sophomore duo of Andrew and Aaron Harrison, will look to guide the University of Kentucky Wildcats to the first undefeated season in men’s NCAA basketball since the 1976 Indiana University National Championship team.
With eyes on the overall number one seed in the tournament, the Wildcats could have to opportunity to play all their games up to the Final Four on courts within two hours of their home city Lexington, Kentucky.
The Wildcats already boast one of the best traveling fan bases in the country. Since the Wildcats will likely be in such close proximity to Lexington through out the tournament, the team looks to have a decided home court advantage on their way to what would be the school’s 9th National Title.
Duke: Redefining the Term “One and Done”
The Duke Blue Devils (28-3) are always a force to be reckoned with during the regular season. Unfortunately, Duke in recent years has not been a great bet for National Championships or even making it out of the 1st few rounds. 5Dimes has the odds for Duke at 10/1 (as of March 10).
It is important to note that Duke has lost 2 of their last 3 first round matchups in the NCAA tournament. Coach Krzyzsewski reached the 1,000th win milestone earlier this year and he achieved this feat with outstanding play from freshman center Jahlil Okafor, who is contributing around 18 points and 9 rebounds per game.
Causal observers may see the dismissal of Rasheed Sulaimon as a sign of trouble to come for Duke, however, young guards Matt Jones and Grayson Allen have stepped up to fill the shoes of a long time Blue Devil. The team is thriving, ranked 6th in Scoring Offense averaging over 80 points per game.
Duke has trouble dealing with senior-laden, mid-major teams in the first round, so beware of possible early round match-ups when working through your brackets and placing bets. If Duke can make it past the minefield of mid-majors, Duke could find themselves on a path to the championship game.
Virginia: Contenders or Pretenders?
The Virginia Cavaliers (28-2) have been one of the best defensive teams in the nation during the 2014-2015 season. Leading the NCAA in scoring defense at 50.9 points per game, the Cavaliers smother opponents with their pack-line defense. TopBet has them as 9/1 odds ( as of March 12) to win it all.
This defense is predicated on covering the ball handler with one man while allowing the rest to fill in lanes in order to protect the basket. A major downside for the Cavaliers is that the team is weak on the offensive side of the ball with stats showing the Cavaliers being ranked 198th in NCAA Division 1 at 66.6 points per game. This paltry stat has not stopped Virginia from winning games; Virginia’s only loss came in a close game against the Duke Blue Devils in which they came up only 6 points short.
The Cavaliers have looked superb this season. When looking at Virginia in a historical perspective, it’s important to note that they have only made one Sweet Sixteen run in the past 20 years. With the mid-season loss of their leading scorer Justin Anderson, some sports betting experts wonder how they will fair in their quest for a national championship.
Anderson’s slated return should happen around the beginning of the ACC Tournament. Anderson should have a few games to re-acclimate himself to the team which should help provide a spark for the Cavaliers leading into the NCAA tournament.
Notre Dame: The Ups and Downs at South Bend
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (26-5) have been an interesting team to watch this year. From the 104 points scored against Coppin State to the 30 point thrashing at the hands of the Duke Blue Devils, the Fighting Irish have never been called a team that lacks entertainment value.
For the season, Notre Dame is scoring an average of 79 points per game while shooting 51% from field goal range and 40% from 3 pointer range. These stats rank the Irish in the top 15 of all men’s basketball teams within those respective categories.
Notre Dame is one of those teams that lives and dies by the 3 point shot. Having developed the ability to shoot the three in both transition and within the half court offense, the Fighting Irish are a tough match-up for some of teams who center their defensive philosophy on cramming the lane.
Bovada currently has the Irish listed at 33/1 betting odds (as of March 5). While the Fighting Irish are considered bit of a long shot to win the tournament, these futures odds to win the NCAA tournament could prove to be lucrative if the Irish find some sort of 3-point shooting rhythm down the stretch.