48 games down, 15 to go. We have not seen the typical March Madness chaos this year but that means the best is still to come.
From the perspective of both a sports bettor and a regular fan, this Sweet 16 will be the toughest to predict since the ‘09 go-around. With each 1, 2, and 3 seed still alive there are no easy paths this year.
The Duke Blue Devils are still the tournament favorites. In the past weeks I would cite a team’s odds to reach the Final Four but with two rounds under our belts already I am now beginning to bet on the tournament champion.
Here are the current Bovada odds for the 2019 NCAA Tournament championship.
Finding Value in the Sweet 16
Per Bovada, Virginia is the most likely candidate to win their Sweet 16 game. This makes sense. The Cavs have the pleasure of matching up with the only double-digit seed remaining in the tourney.
This time of year, every team still alive is dangerous. They’re all good. The Cavs might be superior on paper but anything can happen on the court in late March. The fact the Cavs are 8.5-point favorites is the reason their odds are the second-stiffest in the field.
Many are already giving Virginia a pass into the Elite Eight before they even step foot on the court. If you feel this is warranted, UVA might be worth betting at +400 to win it all.
Tied with Duke as the second-heaviest favorites in their Sweet 16 game, Gonzaga will tip off against Florida St with a -7 line. This is a Gonzaga team led by Mark Few that has proved they can reach the Final Four and beyond.
The Bulldogs are +475 to win it all this year. Their odds are more rewarding than UVA’s partly because of their tougher Sweet 16 matchup but also because they await one heck of an Elite Eight opponent, either Texas Tech or Michigan.
This time of year I am willing to risk more on proven teams with coaches that have gone deep into the tournament before. Gonzaga offers a nice payout while stilling having a very good shot of reaching the Final Four, where anything can happen.
Duke Blue Devils
It isn’t often that the tournament champion is a value bet, but at +300, Duke offers the opportunity to bet a team even better than UVA or Gonzaga while not compromising too much on your return.
The Devils get a conference matchup with Virginia Tech in the Sweet 16. Since 2011, favored teams playing a conference opponent in the month of March at the NCAA Tourney have won 8 of 12 SU and 7 of 12 ATS.
Duke is not a bad bet at all. I would feel like I got a good deal if I bet Duke to win it all right now.
ATS margin is a measure of how much you beat the Vegas line by. I like this stat because it is a good indication of who is playing better than expected. The Oregon Ducks have the largest ATS margin through the first two rounds, but the Houston Cougars are second.
At +2200 to win it all, Houston deserves a flier here. We all know that this team has tremendous upside. Who knows how far the Cougars would have gone last year had it not been for some late-game heroics.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 18, 2018
At 33-3 this year, Houston looked unstoppable at times throughout the season. Small conference or not, this team knows how to win.
The Cougars face the Wildcats of Kentucky in the Sweet 16. Vegas currently has Houston at +3. These guys have a tough path, for sure. That 22 to 1 payout makes the risk worth it in my opinion.
Are these four the only teams with a shot at winning it all? Of course not. I did not even mention Tom Izzo’s Spartans, who have reached the Final Four many times. Defending runner-up Michigan is likely to be a popular bet. I do not hear a lot of Auburn hype despite the fact they won the SEC tourney and are red hot.
Anything can happen down the stretch. That is part of what makes this tournament so great and why it never gets old. If you have a hunch, by all means drop a futures bet on that team.
Two more weekends of college hoops is all we got left, boppers. See you on top!