The NCAA tournament is underway and already the upsets have started. For the third straight year, a No. 15 seed (Princeton) won a first-round game. Furman, a No. 13 seed, knocked off No. 4 Virginia. The upsets will likely continue, which brings up a question. Which teams can realistically win the 2023 NCAA tournament?
Bettors can still get in on the national championship winner, but they might want to take a look at some history before laying down a bet. Here’s a March Madness futures update.
Houston and Alabama, the No. 1 seeds in the Midwest and South regions, are the overall favorites to win this year’s tournament. Both teams won easily in their first-round games and both are given +550 odds to win.
Being a No. 1 seed is a huge advantage. Since the tourney expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there have been only two years where a No. 1 seed did not make the Final Four. The last five straight national champions have been No. 1 seeds.
The only issue for Houston is AAC Player of the Year Marcus Sasser. He played just 14 minutes in Houston’s win over Northern Kentucky in Round 1. Reportedly, he has a groin injury and his status for the rest of the tournament is unknown. Alabama beat Texas A&M-CC 96-75 in its first game.
We’re No. 2
If you’re not a No. 1 seed, it pays to be a No. 2 seed. Top seeds have won 23 of the 36 tournaments since expansion. No. 2 seeds are next on the list with five titles.
UCLA and Texas, both No. 2 seeds this year, are next on the betting board at +1000 to win this year’s championship. Both the Bruins and the Longhorns get it done with defense. UCLA ranks fifth in the country allowing 60.1 points per game and has allowed just 56.7 in its last three games.
Texas ranks 79th overall, but in the Longhorns’ last three games they are allowing 59 points a game. Two No. 2 seeds made last year’s Final Four and at least one has made it in each of the last three seasons. The last No. 2 to win a title was Villanova in 2016.
Kansas & Purdue
The other two No. 1 seeds – Kansas and Purdue – also have realistic shots to win it all. The Jayhawks are the defending champions and are playing as well as any team in the country. Zach Edey, Purdue’s 7-foot-4-inch star, leads an offense that ranks 11th in offensive efficiency. KenPom ranks the Boilermakers sixth in adjusted efficiency margin.
Both the Jayhawks and Boilermakers are listed at +1200 to win it all. In the last five tournaments, Purdue has made the Sweet Sixteen four times. In Kansas’ last six trips to the NCAA tournament, the Jayhawks have made the Elite Eight four times.
The last nine straight Final Fours have featured at least one team seeded No. 5 or lower. Could this year’s entrant be blueblood Duke? The Blue Devils surprised everyone by winning the ACC tournament in the first year after Coach K. Duke is given +1800 odds to win a fifth NCAA title.
The other realistic bets include No. 2 Marquette (+2000), No. 3 Gonzaga (+1400), and No. 4 UConn (+1600). Both Marquette and UConn have previous NCAA championships.
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