Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament is March 17 and here are the latest odds and picks. Recent upsets could have some top tier teams undervalued right now, so act quickly.
Selection Sunday for the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament is now only two weeks away on March 17th, and while our recent focus as been on NCAA brackets such as the 100,000-point Bracket Contest on SBR Forum, let us not forget about the straight future wagering available at the sportsbooks.
A lot of the current favorites to win the National Championship at 5 Dimes have suffered recent upsets, but that could actually present some nice value opportunities if you act quickly, preferably before there next game as these teams only figure to bounce back strong, which would set off an adjustment of the future odds.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the only team among the top five favorites not to suffer a loss in the past week is Gonzaga, a team that we feel is grossly overrated and is severely overvalued. That too adds to the value of the true title contenders, making this a rare year where value can still be had right now even at this late stage of the season.
Here are the current top 10 favorites at 5 Dimes, followed by our personal sections for the Final Four, National Championship Game and National Champion. All odds are as of March 1st, 2013.
Indiana Hoosiers (+450): The Hoosiers are coming off of a 77-73 upset loss at Minnesota, but this is still a scary good team that we still have in our Final Four. Indiana (24-4) is really not far away from being 28-0, as besides the four-point loss to the Golden Gophers, the other three defeats were by two points to Butler, five points to Wisconsin and two points to Illinois! The Hoosiers simply do not miss shots, leading the country in offensive efficiency and ranking fourth in effective field goal percentage, and they are well balanced as they are also ranked 18th in defensive efficiency and 17th in effective field goal percentage against.
Florida Gators (+600): The Gators are the top ranked team in the country on the Pomeroy Ratings, but they just fell to 22-5 overall with a 64-58 loss at Tennessee. Despite those losses, we feel this is the most complete team in the country as it is ranked fourth in offensive efficiency and second in defensive efficiency when there are no other teams in the entire land ranked in the top 10 in both categories. These are not your father’s Gators either that relied solely on three-point shooting, as besides having their best defense in many years, they are also a better rebounding team than in recent seasons. Florida remains our choice to win the national championship at 6/1 odds.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (+700): The Bulldogs now own the best record in all of Division I at 28-2 and they may even end up with a one-seed given all of the recent upsets. Unfortunately, we do not see better than a Sweet 16 run at best, so perhaps we should root for the Zags to get a one-seed for upset bracket purposes! Yes, Gonzaga is talented, but it plays in a terribly weak conference in the WCC and its best non-conference win was only over Oklahoma State. We also see losing by double-digits at home to Illinois in a potential statement game as a major negative.
Duke Blue Devils (+800): Although it was not technically an upset based on the point spread, Duke is coming off of a 73-68 loss at unranked Virginia to drop to 24-4 on the year. The Blue Devils are even down to seventh overall on the Pomeroy Ratings, but now may be the perfect opportunity to buy Duke at a discounted price. You see, the Blue Devils are still ranked fifth in offensive efficiency and 24th in defensive efficiency, but more importantly, they are expected to get Ryan Kelly back very soon. Kelly has been out with a foot injury, and to demonstrate just how much he means, Duke is 15-0 in games that he has played this season and 9-4 without him. We have Duke in our Final Four.
Michigan Wolverines (+800): Michigan suffered the worst loss of all among the five title favorites this past week, as the Wolverines lost 84-78 to a Penn State team that was 0-14 in the Big Ten entering that contest, and they blew a 15-point lead in the second half to boot. Unlike the three previous team we discussed that suffered upsets this week though, we were never that high on Michigan to begin with and we see no value whatsoever at this 8/1 price tag. Michigan should be held back by its defense once the tournament starts, as it ranks only 161st in effective field goal percentage allowed and 247th in defensive turnover percentage.
Louisville Cardinals (+850): If you are looking for another decent priced team to bet on the win the championship besides Florida, the Cardinals are your team! Louisville got some nice experience with its Final Four run last season and this team probably plays the best defense in the country. That defense has the Cardinals ranked third in the country overall on Pomeroy as they lead the nation in defensive efficiency and rank second in defensive turnover percentage. All of those turnovers have led to many easy baskets in transition, which is why Louisville is also 21st in offensive efficiency. We have the Cardinals in the title game vs. the Gators.
Miami Hurricanes (+900): We had Miami listed as one of the bigger tournament busts a few weeks ago, and we actually wish they would have remained undefeated inside the ACC going into their March 2nd rematch vs. Duke in Durham. Unfortunately the Hurricanes stubbed their toe at Wake Forest, so a loss at Duke would now almost certainly knock them out of a one-seed. Frankly we do not think it will matter as Miami is another team that we do not see getting past the Sweet 16, so any top-three seed is too high and these odds are certainly not worth it.
Michigan State Spartans (+950): We also listed Michigan State as a bust in that very same article even though it was on the cusp of sneaking into a one-seed at the time. All of that talk subsided when the Spartans lost at home to Indiana as the Hoosiers completed a season sweep. Yes Sparty is still ranked 12th overall on Pomeroy, but that only makes them the third highest ranked Big Ten team, as believe it or not Wisconsin is ranked fifth! Personally, we think that Indiana will be the only team in the conference to reach the Final Four, although we do admit that Wisconsin at +2500 is rather intriguing.
Kansas Jayhawks (+1100): The good news for Kansas is that they are the best team in the Big 12 this season. So what is the bad news? Well, the Big 12 is only the sixth ranked conference in the country on Pomeroy, even trailing the Mountain West and the Pac-12, the Jayhawks have no depth whatsoever on the bench, they are not a good three-point shooting team and their defense is ranked 264th in the country in forcing turnovers. These are not last season’s Jayhawks that reaching the championship game, and we much as we love Bill Self as a coach, we simply feel Kansas is overrated right now.
Georgetown Hoyas (+1250): The Hoyas are certainly on a nice run at the moment at 22-4 overall and 12-3 on the Big East and they have won 10 straight games as of this writing, but the 10th choice in the betting ahead of their Big East Conference mates from Syracuse who are at +2000? We just do not see it as Georgetown is simply too young in our opinion to beat any of the top nine choices including even Gonzaga and our “bust” teams.
NCAA Basketball Picks
Final Four: Indiana, Florida, Duke, Louisville
Championship Game: Florida vs. Louisville
National Champion: Florida Gators