Our NCAA Tournament handicapper gives us a betting preview pertaining to the South Region, analyzing the top four seeds, sharing a 'sleeper pick' to reach the “Final Four,” & more.
Top Four Seeds
#1 Duke Blue Devils (29-4)
It should be smooth sailing for the Blue Devils until the Regional Final in Houston. At that point, they’ll in all likelihood have to get by either Iowa State or Gonzaga. Neither of those teams will be an easy out but they’ll be a favorite to advance nonetheless. Their NCAA Tournament odds of 7/4 to win to reach the “Final Four” look to be extremely accurate, although it surely doesn’t come with the kind of value that will entice me to make a wager.
#2 Gonzaga Bulldogs (32-2)
The Bulldogs were deprived of a #1 seed due to a loss suffered in their regular season finale versus BYU. They atoned for that defeat with a decisive 91-75 win in the WCC Tournament Final over the Cougars, but it wasn’t enough to sway the committee. Their only other setback this season came in overtime at Arizona (31-3). Is this the year that Mark Few can finally get his team to a “Final Four”? I think they possess a very good chance at doing so, and at 12/5 betting odds to win the South, they’ll be getting my support. They have the size, perimeter game, and intangible factors to beat anyone in the country.
#3 Iowa State Cyclones (9/2)
The BIG 12 champs are a pretty decent value at 9-2 NCAA Basketball betting odds to win the region. However, the Cyclones tend to fall in love with their three-point shooting at times. Iowa State will be able to survive any type of shooting woes in their opening game versus UAB, but beyond that point they’ll need to be very efficient on the offensive end if they hope to make a deep run. My professional intuition says is it’s unlikely to be the case.
#4 Georgetown Hoyas (21-10)
First and foremost, the Hoyas have been vastly overrated by NCAA tournament committee as a #4 seed. They were less than impressive in their final six games, and the recent NCAA Tournament history of the Hoyas, suggests that they’re a prime candidate to be knocked off by a lower seed. Since reaching the “Final Four” in 2007, Georgetown a dismal 2-5 in “The Big Dance”. The losses included upsets at the hands of Ohio, VCU, Florida Gulf Coast, and Davidson. All of those recent results have come under the tutelage of current head coach John Thompson III. Their odds at 12/1 are the highest of any of the #4 seeds to win a region, and rightfully so in my opinion.
#6 SMU (27-6)
The winners of the American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles are for real. They possess a veteran head coach in Larry Brown who’s won a national championship with Kansas, and all reached the NCAA Tournament Final with UCLA. The Mustangs are an excellent shooting team and play terrific defense. They open on Thursday with a game against a UCLA team that arguably shouldn’t be part of the tournament field, and potentially will face Iowa State on Saturday. Keep in mind when placing NCAA Basketball picks, this is a very dangerous team as a #6 seed, and a terrific value at 15/1 betting odds to win the South.
Lower Seed that can Surprise
#12 Stephen F. Austin (29-4)
The Lumberjacks pulled off an upset of VCU in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. This is a program which has gone 61-7 the last two seasons. They started the 2014-2015 campaign 1-3, and since then have gone 28-1. They played the #10 team in the country Northern Iowa down to the wire before falling by just 2-points. They also defeated Memphis 64-52 on the road. Their positive experience from last year’s NCAA Tournament, and a winning culture that’s be instilled in the program, makes the Lumberjacks a team that can surprise nationally ranked Utah on Thursday.