March Madness is approaching and the 64 team tournament is consistently the most heart pounding and exhilarating collection of games in all athletics. Who will win it all? A perennial favorite that won't be denied or will one team catch lightning in a bottle and make history?
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NCAA Basketball Futures
It's already been an eventful 2019-2020 NCAA hoops season, but the best is yet to come. Before the all-important Selection Sunday show, here's who oddsmakers are giving the best odds to win the NCAA tournament currently:
- Kansas (+500)
- Gonzaga (+800)
- Michigan State (+1000)
We'll give out our free championship pick later on, but we first have to remind you now is the time to earn a hefty sign-up bonus from online sportsbooks! Aside from the Super Bowl, no American sporting event draws more betting dollars than March Madness. With that increased attention, sportsbooks roll out special deals — with hundreds to thousands of free play at stake — to entice first-time bettors. Don't pass up on these killer promotions!
With that said, let's move on to our NCAA Tournament preview:
Rest of the March Madness Betting Field
Bovada has betting odds for a wealth of tournament-bound teams, but here's some that deserve your immediate attention:
- Dayton (+1000)
- Baylor (+1200)
- Duke (+1200)
- Kentucky (+1400)
- Florida State (+1600)
It's important to remember, these odds will fluctuate from now and until Selection Sunday when regional seeding is officially revealed. But who has time to wait for that? For the antsy bettors, now is the time to lock in a futures bet!
Evaluating The Pre-Tourney Favorites
Back when the season started in November, the top contenders to cut down the nets come season's end were Michigan State (+650), Kentucky (+750), Duke (+850), and Kansas (+1300). It's no surprise those four remain in the championship discussion four months later.
The Bill Self-led Jayhawks have made up the most ground, improving on their preseason odds by a staggering +800 to become presumptive favorites. They went 12-1 in the Big-12 behind a stingy defense. It's adjusted defensive efficiency of 85.6 points (per 100 possessions) is second-best in the nation. The offense isn't an issue for Kansas, either. Kenpom ranks them ninth in offensive efficiency at 115.9 points.
Speaking of offense, both Gonzaga and Dayton excel in that department. Both finished one and two in Kenpom offensive ratings at 120.6 and 119.3 points, respectively. Then again, those numbers are padded by playing in weak conferences like the West Coast Conference and Atlantic-10. That overwhelmingly weak schedule is why we're ruling those two teams out despite what oddsmakers say.
Freshman Phenoms Or Grizzled Vets?
There's a wide-held belief that in the NCAA Tournament, one game-changing star (usually a one-and-done freshman) can carry you through the postseason. After all, the NBA is riddled with examples of one-man shows like LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo putting so-so teams on their back.
But we're not buying it in college hoops. How did Duke fare a year ago with the transformational Zion Williams? An Elite Eight exit (and he was flanked by two fellow top-10 NBA picks RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish). DeAndre Ayton before him? First-round loss.
Matter of fact, if you look at the recent trend of NCAA tourney winners — North Carolina, Villanova, and Virginia — you'll see these were experienced teams that played with each other multiple years, not one mish-mash year. The bright lights of March Madness don't seem to bother them as much as wide-eyed freshmen.
If you're looking for one of those veteran teams this year, look no further than Kentucky. Typically, a John Calipari team is on the other end of the spectrum with one-and-done-caliber talent, a trend he very much started a decade ago. Oh, how times have changed.
Three of Kentucky's top-four scores are second- or third-year players. Of course, there is one stud freshman on the roster — guard Tyrese Maxey, who is a consensus top-10 NBA draft pick in 2020. Pair that with Calipari's own experience (six Final Four runs and one national title) and Kentucky is the perfect dark horse bet to make at +1400.
Making The NCAA Tournament Pick
Ok, we're going to go ahead and say it, the Michigan State Spartans will be your 2020 NCAA Tournament champions!
Why? A year removed from a Final Four run, the Spartans have all the ingredients to make a deep postseason run once again — a top-class coach in Tom Izzo, a veteran leader, and talent-laden youth.
Senior point guard Cassius Winston is the lynchpin of the team. Playing through the season after the tragic death of his brother, Winston led Michigan State to a third straight Big-10 regular-season title and is an All-American pick.
Winston is the team's top scorer at 18.6 points per game. Four of the next five top scorers on the team were part of last year's squad, too. As we eluded to earlier, experience does in fact matter in the NCAA Tournament and Michigan State will prove it this year.
It helps that the Spartans are peaking at the right time, too. They've outlasted ranked foes like Iowa, Maryland, and Ohio State in recent weeks. That hot streak will continue throughout the NCAA Tournament.
At last, Izzo will end his championship drought that dates back to 2000. Bet the Spartans here!
Betting pick to make: Michigan State (+1000)
That does it for our NCAA March Madness preview. If you're looking for more NCAA tournament betting lines, then head to one of the sportsbooks below. They'll have odds for every single game and updated futures as teams start to be eliminated!
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