It’s officially March, meaning that basketball fans everywhere will start filling out their NCAA tournament brackets soon. March madness captivates both bettors and regular sports fans because of its unpredictability. You never know what schools will rise above their seed and which ones will wilt under the pressure.
To get you primed and ready for an action-packed month, let’s look at some of our predictions for March Madness 2019.
Duke’s Championship Dreams Live Or Die By Zion Williamson
For most of the season, the college basketball season seemed like a coronation for Duke. They’ve been considered shoe-ins for the NCAA Championship game for most of the year, and for good reason. In basketball, talent means everything, and Duke has the most talented player in the country anchoring the pain in Zion Williamson.
After Williamson’s grade-1 knee sprain, Duke began to struggle against teams they would have blown-out with their leader on the court. It’s not only his 21.6 ppg they’re missing, but his presence in the paint. Without him on the court, the rest of the team doesn’t exude the same confidence.
Before, guards could get away with lax defense because of Zion’s ability to challenge anyone that drives into the paint. Frontcourt players weren’t exposed due to his presence, either. Now, the paint appears less-crowded without Duke’s anchor. Now, they’ve gone from a guaranteed one seed down to a two.
Zion could miss some of the ACC tournament. He’ll be back for the NCAA tourney, but will his absence disrupt Duke’s flow when he returns? Will he save a little bit, knowing that another injury could hurt his NBA draft stock? If Zion returns and plays cautiously, it could spell trouble for Duke in the later rounds of the tourney. If he returns and leaves it all on the court, it’s hard to imagine anyone stopping them.
Indiana Could Bust Some Brackets This Year (If They Get In)
The Hoosiers started out the season at 12-2, but have since gone 5-12. Even with that wild swing, they have five wins over Michigan State, Marquette, Louisville, and Wisconsin. It doesn’t sit well with many fans that a 14 loss team is on the bubble, but with impressive wins and a large winning streak, it shouldn’t shock anyone either.
If Indiana beats Ohio State in the Big Ten tourney, expect two things to happen. First, they’ll make the tournament. Second, A LOT of people will bet against them.
Smart bettors will know better. Let’s say Indiana goes into the tourney as a 12 seed. Are there any 4 seeds that they couldn’t beat? Even as a 13 seed, this is a team that can run with most 3 seeds, a la Michigan State. There’s a sweet spot for a team like Indiana. If they make it to the tournament and as a 12-14 seed, it might be worth picking them to advance to the sweet 16. Depending on how the tourney shakes out and their positioning, they could make the final 8.
The West Will Provide The Most Upsets This Year
Every year, there’s always one region that wrecks bettors’ brackets. We expect that region to be the West this year.
The West hosts some teams that we believe have the capability to upset anyone. Marquette projected to be a 4-6 seed, and Murray State, expected to enter as a 12th seed, can run with anyone. Gonzaga is a strong team, but is anyone comfortable picking them over any second or third seed after losing to St. Mary’s? If those teams are Michigan State or Houston, it’s easy to see an upset. Even in the third round (assuming they are the number one seed on Selection Sunday), a team such as Marquette or Murray State could give them fits.
Based on recent projections, there doesn’t appear to be a safe team in the mix out West. That’s fun for casual fans, but it could become a minefield for bettors.
Don’t Sleep on These Teams:
Wofford received their league’s automatic bid after a 21-0 record against the Southern Conference. They also have a 9-4 record against Quadrant 1/ Quadrant 2 teams and zero losses against sub-40 KenPom teams. They aren’t the flashiest of teams, nor do they have star power, but they are deadly efficient and will sneak up on some unexpecting teams.
The Badgers are 11-3 in their last 14 games and 5-1 over the past six, with the only loss coming in double overtime to Indiana. They have the talent to succeed in the tournament, with Ethan Happ being a first-team all Big-10 player for the third consecutive year and D’Mitrik Trice getting named as an honorable mention. They play stellar team defense and can get hot offensively, making them a dangerous team to bet against in the early and middle rounds.
March Madness is all about momentum, and no one has more of that than the Rams. This is a team that hasn’t lost a game since Jan. 23rd, and that’s a game that their players think they should have won. Picking this team blindly throughout their season would have seen a major ROI. They have the ability to push the ball upcourt and create matchup problems with anyone in the country. If you want to pick a bracket buster and aren’t comfortable riding with Indiana, VCU is the team for you.
Do You Need Help Filling Out Your Brackets For March Madness 2019?
Anytime there’s a 68-team tournament, there’s a certain level of luck involved. Entire seasons can get ruined by one bad call or last-second shot. How can bettors profit on a tournament that can swing on one miracle play?
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