March Madness Betting: No. 1 Seeds Still Up For Grabs

Jason Lake

Friday, March 4, 2016 8:39 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 4, 2016 8:39 PM UTC

Bracketologists are in agreement over three of the four potential No. 1 seeds at March Madness. But why aren't the Michigan State Spartans in more of their NCAA basketball picks?

Jason's 2015-16 record as of March 2: 8-8 ATS, 1-2 Totals

Something strange is going on here. When you look at the four teams most hoopheads have at the top of their Division I power rankings, you'll find nearly everyone's got the same Mount Rushmore – maybe not in the same order, but it's the same four suspects:

Kansas Jayhawks (26-4 SU, 19-9 ATS)
Michigan State Spartans (25-5 SU, 20-9 ATS)
Villanova Wildcats (26-4 SU, 14-14-1 ATS)
Virginia Cavaliers (23-6 SU, 14-13 ATS)

Whether it's the AP or the Coaches polls, or Ken Pomeroy's efficiency rankings, these are the four programs at the top of the heap as we go to press. But if you look at what the bracketologists have come up with for March Madness, only three of these four powerhouses appear almost universally as No. 1 seeds. The outliers? Michigan State. The Spartans are projected as a No. 2 seed at roughly half the outlets we've researched here at the home office, even while they sit tied with Kansas at +500 atop Bovada's NCAA basketball odds list for the Big Dance.

There is some logic to leaving Sparty at No. 2. With just one game left to go in the regular season, the Indiana Hoosiers (24-6 SU, 16-14 ATS) are two games up on Michigan State in the Big Ten standings. The Spartans can rectify this by winning their conference tournament (they're +135 favorites at BetOnline), which they did for head coach Tom Izzo in 2012 and 2014 – and twice before that. Or the Selection Committee could just go ahead and choose them anyway. We like their chances enough to make MSU our official NCAA basketball pick to grab that fourth No. 1 seed.


Too Much Tobacco
So who are these other pretenders? The North Carolina Tar Heels (24-6 SU, 12-17-1 ATS) are getting some love from the bracketologists; even though they're just No. 8 in the polls, they are No. 5 on the Pomeroy charts, and they're tied with the Miami Hurricanes (24-5 SU, 18-9-1 ATS) in the ACC standings. But do we really need two top seeds from the ACC this year?

Then you have the Oklahoma Sooners (23-6 SU, 12-15 ATS) in the Big 12. The who the what now? The Sooners are No. 6 in the polls and on the Pomeroy charts, but again, we already have Kansas as the likely No. 1 overall seed, and the Sooners are three games back in third place in the Big 12 standings.

Elsewhere, we still have the Xavier Musketeers (25-4 SU, 18-11 ATS) slotted in as a No. 1 on a few brackets, but Sunday's 90-81 loss to the Seton Hall Pirates (+1.5 at home) should put a stop to that. And we are seeing Miami pop up here and there as a top seed. We'll see what happens during Champ Week, but we think Michigan State will get there in the end.

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