The tournament committee doesn’t necessarily mind if a team loses its conference tourney final, or even the semifinal game of a power conference. But if your March Madness futures pick loses a postseason event dramatically? Then their March Madness seeding will likely take a hit.
For instance, Houston garners a #2 overall seed in 2023 despite losing to Memphis by 10 points in the American title game. UCLA is also in a garden spot at #2 in the West after taking a similar trek through the Pac-12 postseason, before losing the final to #2 southern seed Arizona.
However, the Kansas Jayhawks are perceived to have been devalued, even though KU has technically still drawn a #1 regional seeding in the NCAA Tournament bracket this campaign. The upstart Texas Longhorns walloped the Jayhawks by 20 points to win postseason honors in the Big 12 in addition to a #2 March Madness seed, handing KU its 7th overall loss on the season. Houston (+500) and Kansas (+1000) continue to be popular picks to win the national title, with UT drawing just (+1900) odds.
Curiously, Alabama is offered at (+800) or 8-to-1 national championship odds. The Crimson Tide have been rocked by controversy late this season and fell from the ranks of #1 in the AP poll in addition to FanDuel Sportsbook’s betting board of top March Madness picks. But, the resilient Tide shook it all off to crush Texas A&M by 19 points, win a postseason SEC title, and arrive as the committee’s 2023 #1 overall seed.
The prop betting line for Alabama to reach the Sweet Sixteen is pricey at (-300) odds. But users who have invested in the Crimson Tide can rest assured that Brandon Miller’s team only has to defeat a First Four qualifier, then the winner of West Virginia vs Maryland to reach the regional semifinal round. The fact that ‘Bama will be performing in the familiar, fan-friendly locale of Birmingham makes it even less likely that the #1 seed will tumble.
Even most casual fans are aware by now, North Carolina has made an infamous sort of history this spring as the first preseason Associated Press #1 team of basketball’s modern era to miss out on the tournament completely. It becomes an even sadder, yet more remarkable story when we consider that UNC is nearly the defending champion of March Madness, and played #4 South Region seed Virginia to a stalemate at halftime before losing by 9 points in the ACC tournament semifinals.
UNC goes into the NIT (National Invitational Tournament) bracket as a prohibitive betting favorite … should the browbeaten Tar Heels choose to play at all in the 2nd-tier championship. Villanova, another program of recent NCAA championship game notoriety, has nobly chosen to play in the NIT.
The consensus-best player in college basketball, Zach Edey, has helped the Purdue Boilermakers to at least a single postseason title already, engineering a mammoth 30-and-13 double-double to outlast a sharpshooting Penn State rally in the 2nd half of Sunday afternoon’s Big Ten championship tilt. Edey’s 21+ point and 2+ blocks-per-game averages combine with his incredible NBA potential to make the 20-year-old center into America’s favorite individual-player prop wager.
Edey’s awesome height has been measured at over 7 feet and 4 inches, making it a strange story that the Boilermaker hasn’t played serious hoops in more than a handful of scholastic years. The phenom also once intended to make his career in ice hockey, a journey that might have made the freakishly athletic giant into the biggest, meanest pro defenseman ever to patrol a blue line. John Wooden’s 2023 favorite could become the next “Wilt the Stilt” commodity on hardcourt instead.
None of Edey’s individual honors have added up to thin betting lines on Purdue. The Boilermakers are a skeptical (+1200) pick to win the national championship, and a (+300) or 3-to-1 wager to win the NCAA Tournament’s eastern bracket-of-16 as the Big Dance’s #1 seed in the region.
Speculators can recall hard disappointments when betting on March Madness teams that are built around a single key player, sometimes the linchpin never even sees the event, such as in the case of Syracuse’s Fab Melo in 2015.
2023’s Cinderellas, Long Term Prop Bets, and the Shiny Odds of Beating Colgate
March Madness odds on Gonzaga are finally brightening, after a surprisingly easy run through the West Coast Conference tournament. The Zags settled a few regular-season scores, literally and figuratively, by the time Gonzaga pasted St. Mary’s 77-51 behind superstar Drew Timme’s 18 points and the versatile Anton Watson’s 10 rebounds. A sportsbook wager on Gonzaga (+1500) to win the 2023 national championship now costs twice as much as the Zags’ previous line of 30-to-1 that reflected a regular season that was dull and uneventful. Throwing ice on the fire is Gonzaga’s draw in the West Region as a #3 seed. Gonzaga’s cagers will have a manageable start against #14 Grand Canyon in the Round of 64. Conversely, the bracket of 16 includes Arkansas, Kansas, UCLA, and UConn.
In Sweet Sixteen prop bets, Duke is considered a hot commodity drawing a 1.5-to-1 betting line to reach the Regional Semifinals as a #5 seed in the East Region. Coach K’s retirement means that the Blue Devils can no longer count on a tactical master of the game to level things out against a great cager like Zach Edey. But analysts are encouraged that Duke’s regional bracket includes so many power-conference seeds who in 2023 are not at the peak of their powers, including #7 seed Michigan State and #6 seed Kentucky. Another bonus is that the Blue Devils can’t meet up with Edey and Purdue until the Sweet Sixteen, or Regional Semifinal round of the tourney. That’s when 7+ footers can hit icy patches.
Recent underdog heroes of March Madness, like St. Peter’s, Loyola-Chicago, and even Texas Tech, have been left out of the bracket of 68 this season. UNC-Asheville and Vermont are among the notable exceptions, however, a preponderance of power-conference “underdogs” stacked together in a couple of brackets is keeping the “hot” betting action in larger institutions.
In the West Region’s opening round, the winner of Texas A&M vs Penn State should provoke a big jump in Final Four odds following the game, even though Texas may retain its current momentum with a Round-of-64 victory over unheralded Colgate before taking on the Aggies or the Nittany Lions this weekend. The same cannot be said for Iowa and Auburn’s tilt on Thursday due to Houston’s lurking presence as a Round-of-32 opponent in the Midwest region, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see a run on point-spread and moneyline picks that favored the power-conference team to defeat the AAC at generous payoff odds. Finally, anticipate #4 South Region seed Virginia’s odds to adjust rapidly, even before action tips off this week, due to the Cavaliers’ relatively easy draw against #13 Furman followed by a match against the winner of SDSU vs Charleston in Orlando.
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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