With Selection Sunday officially here and past, the 64 team bracket is officially set with the first games of the tournament tipping off at 4:10 PM EST on Thursday March, 18th. Let’s go through and recap the teams that snuck into the tournament, the teams that were left out, and some future odds!
West Region: (with opening odds to win the tournament)
#1 Gonzaga (+200) v. #16 Norfolk St. (+25000)/Appalachian St. (+20000)
#8 Oklahoma (+8000) v. #9 Missouri (+10000)
#5 Creighton (+4200) v. #12 UC Santa Barbra (+20000)
#4 Virginia (+3000) v. #13 Ohio (+25000)
#6 USC (+5500) v. #11 Wichita St. (+18000)
#3 Kansas (+4200) v. #14 Eastern Washington (+25000)
#7 Oregon (+8000) v. #10 VCU (+11000)
#2 Iowa (+1600) v. #15 Grand Canyon (+20000)
#1 Baylor (+500) v. #16 Hartford (+20000)
#8 North Carolina (+5500) v. #9 Wisconsin (+4200)
#5 Villanova (+5500) v. #12 Winthrop (+20000)
#4 Purdue (+4200) v. #13 North Texas (+25000)
#6 Texas Tech (+4800) v. #11 Utah St. (+11000)
#3 Arkansas (+4200) v. #14 Colgate (+25000)
#7 Florida (+8000) v. #10 Virginia Tech (+12000)
#2 Ohio St. (+2100) v. #15 Oral Roberts (+25000)
#1 Illinois (+600) v. #16 Drexel (+20000)
#8 Loyola Chicago (+4800) v. #9 Georgia Tech (+8000)
#5 Tennessee (+4800) v. #12 Oregon (+8000)
#4 Oklahoma St. (+3000) v. #13 Liberty (+25000)
#6 San Diego St. (+4800) v. #11 Syracuse (+8500)
#3 West Virginia (+3000) v. #14 Morehead St. (+20000)
#7 Clemson (+8000) v. #10 Rutgers (+8000)
#2 Houston (+2400) v. #15 Cleveland St. (+20000)
#1 Michigan (+750) v. #16 Mt. St. Mary’s (+25000)/Southern Texas (+25000)
#8 LSU (+7500) v. #9 St. Bonaventure (+10000)
#5 Colorado (+5000) v. #12 Georgetown (+12000)
#4 Florida St. (+2700) v. #13 UNC Greensboro (+25000)
#6 BYU (+6500) v. #11 Michigan St. (+12000)
#3 Texas (+4600) v. #14 Albilene Christian (+25000)
#7 Connecticut (+3200) v. #10 Maryland (+12000)
#2 Alabama (+2100) v. #15 Iona (+25000)
We are classifying the “value bets” as the 1-2 seeds in the tournament where we see Gonzaga (+200), Baylor (+500), Illinois (+600), and Michigan (+750) as the one seeds and Iowa (+1600), Alabama (+2100), Ohio St (+2100), and Houston to round out the two seeds (+2400). There isn’t a lot of value with taking Gonzaga at +200, basically meaning you’re parlaying all 6 games together and only getting +200 value. Out of these 8 teams, only two of them finished the season ranking top 10 in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency. Michigan and Illinois. Michigan may be without Livers during this tournament which brings me to Alabama’s +2100 value since they are in the same division as Michigan. Alabama has been torching offense all year ranking 2nd in adjusted defensive efficiency (just behind Loyola Chicago) and first in guard defensive efficiency, which is arguably the most important stat when it comes to March Madness. In terms of “value” the SEC champions might have the best out of all of the 1-2 seeds coming into the tournament.
Pick: Alabama (+2100)
We are classifying “sleeper teams” as any team from the 3-6 seed range. Out of the qualifying teams for this category, Purdue ranks the best in terms of adjusted efficiency margin as a 4-seed in the south division. They come into the tournament ranking 23rd out of 357 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency and really impressed people at the end of the year going into the Big 10 tournament, but ended up falling short in their overtime bout with Ohio St. The balance that Purdue on their offensive and defensive end, not only from their starters, but from their bench as well, could see them making a run in the tournament.
in the Midwest division, we see #5-seed Tennessee that held a 16 point lead against Alabama in the SEC tournament (that ended up going on to win the conference championship), but there was a lot of grit in that team that has been in a majority of their games strictly because of their defense and their ability to get to the free throw line. Tennessee comes into the tournament ranking 3rd out of the qualifying teams in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Picks: Purdue (+5000) & Tennessee (+4800)
Dark Horse Bets
We are classifying “dark horse” teams as any team that is 7th seed or worse. We have seen some absurd things happen in March. From the UMBC upset against #1 seeded Virgina in the first round (don’t count on it to happen again), Loyola Chicago’s run to the final 4, and even Butler’s Cinderella story as an 8 seed making it to the biggest stage of them all. So let’s look over possible teams to make a run in this year’s crazy March Madness tournament.
Going back to talking about Loyola Chicago (A12 conference champions), Ken Pom has them ranked 9th, where as the AP Polls has them ranked 18th, but in the tournament, they are a… 8 seed? Loyola hold the title of #1 in adjusted defensive efficiency this year, which many people will ignore due to their lack of strength in their schedule, which is understandable, but Vegas has them having the same odds as most 3 & 4 seeds in this tournament, even with them possibly facing Illinois in the round of 32 if they win in the first round. If you want to get crazy during March, I believe there is some value in once Cinderella story, now contending Loyola Chicago team.
Another team that Ken Pom has ranked higher (10th) than the AP Polls (30th) is the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin and Loyola-Chicago are the only two teams seeded outside of the top 2 seeds that made Ken Pom’s top 10, most of this being because of Wisconsin’s dominant defense that kept them in every game against Quad-1 opponents. Again, this is another team that would be facing a 1 seed if they make it out of the first, but this is March.
Picks: Loyola-Chicago (+4800) & Wisconsin (+5500)
Follow along for bets bets for the rest of the tournament and other sports at Sportbetmagazine.com!