WagerBop has noted that the chances of picking a perfect March Madness bracket are as high as 9 quintillion-to 1. In March of 2023, the chances of anyone having successfully predicted the Final Four’s field had to have been enormously worse.
Alabama, Purdue, Houston, and the defending Division 1 champion Kansas have all been eliminated from 2023’s bracket. Runner-up seeds and betting favorites have fallen by the wayside in favor of surprise contenders, mostly prior to the 2023 Regional Finals.
Last weekend, Texas was eliminated by a fierce comeback from #5 seed Miami, while Top 25 stalwart Kansas State was beaten for a surprise Region title by #9 seed Florida Atlantic. Houston fell behind against the same red-hot Miami team a round earlier and couldn’t catch up, and in the Sweet Sixteen ice-cold Alabama was knocked out by #5 SDSU.
Looking at surviving seeds like #4 Connecticut, #5 bids San Diego State and Miami, and especially #9 FAU, demonstrates how underdog-friendly this season’s bracket has become. The 2023 Final Four makes history as the first time the event has ever been held without a single #1, #2, or #3 tournament seed in the running.
The “Cinderella ball” of 2023 was also full of underdog vs underdog seed games in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight. San Diego State’s Regional Final win over #6 seed Creighton could not have contrasted Sunday’s wild late action more, but SDSU put on a defensive clinic while stopping the Bluejays’ trademark cuts to the hoop, a sneaky strength of this year’s Final Four teams that Creighton used to give Princeton’s generational squad a dose of its own medicine while knocking the Tigers out a round prior. Alabama’s off-court distractions in ’23 might have made the eliminated Crimson Tide feel like its own kind of underdog prior to losing in the Sweet Sixteen. In the meantime, UConn humiliated the tourney’s Cinderella icon Gonzaga in a contest with a final score that must be seen to be believed.
The prevailing (-125) odds on Connecticut to win the national crown, which are hardly rivaled by SDSU’s (+390) odds or Miami’s 4-to-1 line, can be traced to early March’s betting action on the championship tourney. UConn may be “just” a 4th seed from its regional bracket, but Connecticut was among the few pre-tourney underdogs that consistently drew more-and-more wagers to prosper.
This men’s Final Four is the biggest surprise field in the event’s long history, whether adopting a Top 25 point of view or even from a simple analysis of seeding. But there are a lot of March Madness speculators who will claim that UConn was a “favorite” from the start. The Huskies indeed were among the few squads that garnered better than 15-to-1 futures odds on making a championship run to NRG Stadium, while few gamers can boast of a “bracketology” session that had FAU advancing as far as they have this season.
As a #9 seed, Florida Atlantic has a brave (+550) line to win a shock national title, the former a number that mid-major schools can scarcely dream of when a college basketball season begins. However, this Saturday, the Owls are still (+2.5) point-spread underdogs to defensively stout SDSU in Final Four action.
The Huskies are a heavy (-5.5) spread favorite against Miami in Saturday’s late game.
Looking at the women’s side, the early departure of 2 top regional seeds and a women’s basketball stronghold in Indiana, Stanford, and UConn, respectively, may parallel the “Cinderella’s ball” 2023 men’s bracket news from a sheer storybook point-of-view. But in reality, the thinning-out of the Women’s Final Four field may benefit #1 South Carolina.
Defending the women’s national championship hardware from 2022, USC is a (-290) futures pick to repeat, led by sharpshooter Zia Cooke and around-the-bucket menace Aliyah Boston. The Lady Gamecocks are FanDuel’s (-11.5) point-spread favorite over Iowa in a Women’s Final Four tip-off late on Friday evening, while LSU is a slight favorite to defeat Virginia Tech.
Team and Player Prop Bet Odds on the NCAA Final Four
Florida Atlantic Owls vs San Diego State Aztecs (Saturday, April 1st)
No NCAA Tournament contest of the past 50 years has said “Cinderella” quite like Saturday’s early Final Four tip-off between San Diego State and Florida Atlantic.
In a normal season, the casual fan might already know more about a pair of middle-seed contenders who have surprised pundits, bookmakers, and gamblers with a Final Four berth. However, the bracket of 2023 has been so full of amazing underdogs that SDSU and FAU each spent days, even weeks at a time advancing while other Cinderella teams monopolized the news. SDSU is a (-1.5) point spread favorite over FAU in Final Four action this Saturday.
Readers who have lost point-spread bets to meaningless buckets in 2023 will be drawn to FanDuel Sportsbook’s winning margin “Bands” alongside main market odds on SDSU-FAU or UConn vs Miami. Every betting selection within “Bands” proposes that a team will win by a scale of “1-to-5” points or another bandwidth-of-victory margin 10-to-15 points, as an example. Winning margin “Bands” prop bets eliminate guesswork as to whether the losing team will indulge in a “fouling” comeback-attempt and wind up losing by a wider final score than the basketball would otherwise produce. If SDSU, for instance, decides to rely on getting defensive stops when down by 2 possessions’ worth of points in the final 1:00 of play, then speculators who took “Florida Atlantic by 1-5” are poised to win their bets no matter what Saturday’s leading team does on its last offensive turn. There’s still a chance, however, of getting a “bad beat” from an academic 3-pointer made by the winner in the final seconds.
San Diego State “Winning by 1-5” leads the prop betting market with (+410) odds.
Connecticut Huskies vs Miami Hurricanes (Saturday, April 1st)
UConn may be “just” a 4th seed from its regional bracket, but Connecticut was among the few pre-tourney underdogs that consistently drew more-and-more wagers to succeed as Selection Sunday came and went. The confidence is reflected in the Huskies’ (-5.5) point spread vs Miami on Saturday night. But the proposition odds on Final Four action illustrate Connecticut’s dominance in Las Vegas speculation as well.
UConn’s total-points line rests impressively at O/U (77.5) points, meaning that to win the proposition bet for “Over,” the Huskies would have to outscore every Miami tournament opponent-to-date except one, the Texas Longhorns, who still couldn’t score when it counted against the Hurricanes in Sunday’s startling ACC-over-Big 12 comeback victory.
The Miami Hurricanes’ O/U is also a healthy (71.5) points for a game that’s forecast to be wide-open. FanDuel Sportsbook is also offering 5-point and 10-point winning margin “Bands” prop betting for Saturday’s late tip-off, “UConn by 1-10” leading the way at (+168) odds.
Isaiah Wong, Miami’s terrific shooting guard, was expected to draw the most prop bets to lead UConn-Miami in point scoring on Saturday, judging by Wong’s position atop the proposition market’s player list at FanDuel Sportsbook. However, 2 players have surpassed the Hurricane marksman in bets taken, and each belongs to Connecticut.
Adama Sanogo, UConn’s power forward, has terrorized NCAAM opponents throughout March, and carries a fresh favorite’s line of (+240) odds to score the most points in the ‘Canes vs Huskies semifinal. Sanogo’s teammate Jordan Hawkins is garnering a 3-to-1 line that also surpasses Miami’s sharpshooter at (+290) odds on the UConn playmaker.
The prop bet for Sanogo to grab more than O/U (7.5) rebounds in the game is also a popular pick, as evidenced by pricey (-152) odds on the high-side prop bet.
The early game Saturday is anticipated to be a half-court encounter, with SDSU-FAU’s forecasted lack of easy buckets showing up most notably within the tip-off’s individual-scoring prop totals. Standouts such as San Diego State guard Lamont Butler, and Florida Atlantic transfer star Bryan Greenlee, are handicapped to score less than double-digit points in the contest. Of course, there are exceptions including bright Over/Under (13.5) lines on Aliyah Martin and Johnell Davis, FAU’s guards.
The notable downfall of Top 25 stalwarts in 2023’s men’s tournament has scrambled the long-stable betting lines on Most Outstanding Player honors. Sonogo and Hawkins currently lead the prop market’s action with just better than 3-to-1 odds. That is illustrative of UConn’s anticipated national title, but those who believe Miami will knock out the favorites this Saturday can pick Wong at generous (+1200) odds.
South Carolina, the defending women’s national champion, is dominating the odds to prevail in 2023’s distaff Final Four, beginning on Friday evening when Virginia Tech faces LSU, and the Iowa Lady Hawkeyes meet USC in national semifinal action. But as South Carolina’s powerful Aliyah Boston may be the steady engine that propels USC’s quest to repeat, even though Iowa is a double-digit underdog, it is Iowa guard Caitlin Clark who’s far-and-away leading the scoring-prop speculation at Over/Under (27.5) points for Friday. Clark has taken the NCAAW division by storm, scoring or assisting 70 out of 97 Lady Hawkeye points while notching a record 40-point double-double in the regional semis against Louisville. Drawing comparisons to Magic Johnson, Clark has won the Naismith Award and AP Player of the Year.
Angel Reese of LSU leads player-prop speculation on Friday’s early women’s tip-off with a scoring prop bet line of O/U (19.5) points vs Virginia Tech.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.
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