March Madness bracket betting: Best bets, title picks and other burning questions

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This looks like one of the more unpredictable NCAA tournaments in recent memory.

There no overwhelming favourite. Alabama received the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament but the Crimson Tide is not the betting favorite to win it all. That’s Houston. But Houston’s Not the Biggest Liability for betmgm In the future betting market of the championship. That would be Kansas.

[Free bracket contests for both tourneys | Printable Men’s | Women’s]

There’s a lot to sort out from a betting perspective, and Frank Schwab and Scott Pianoski of Yahoo Sports have their thoughts on the tournament:

Noah Clowney and the Alabama Crimson Tide are the top overall seeds in the NCAA Tournament. (Photo by Carly McClure / Getty Images)

How do we feel about the No. 1 seed?

Frank Schwab: I think they got the right four teams, but I don’ think it’s going to be a chocolate tournament. All No. 1 seeds are beatable. Houston needs Marcus Sasser to stay healthy and I’m not sure the Cougars have a championship ceiling anyway. Purdue’s cast around Zach Edey doesn’t impress me. Kansas has a tough road going and I don’t think KU is as good as last season – Texas swept the Jayhawks down the floor in the Big 12 Finals. Alabama is very good, but dependent on 3-point shooting, which means they will have to survive an off shooting night in five consecutive games to win them all (they will also win their first round game with an off night ). If you gave me plus odds on a seed less than 1.5 No. 1 in the Final Four, I would punch that ticket.

Scott Pianowski: we agree. This looks to be a wide-open year, where something like a random Final Four seeded 2-5-7-11 wouldn’ surprise me. Aside from Houston, every team in the current Top 25 has suffered at least five losses. There can’t be “Where were you when?” troubled this year; There is no Buster Douglas Mike Tyson in this bracket.

Is a Wide-Open Tournament a Feature or a Bug? Massive favorites, heavy overdogs could be good for the game. But it’s also fun to start filling out a bracket and not be bogged down by the idea that everyone is picking the same team.

Purdue seems easy to pick against — it didn’ play well at the end of the year even when it won the Big Ten Tournament, and vanishing the conference in mid-March has been an ATM in recent years. Alabama worries me too; A heavy reliance on the perimeter shot and a shockingly high turnover rate for a first seeded team overall. I haven’t decided on my champion yet, but it’s not going to be Crimson Tide.

In a wide-open tournament, which long shot can make it to the last four?

FS: Memphis really strikes me as a good play at +2000. I agree that the Tigers could lose against a good Florida Atlantic team in the first round. That’s the problem with any team outside the top five seed line. If Memphis wins in the first round, the Tigers can beat Purdue as well. They have beaten Houston this season and played Alabama closely. I can also see Arkansas, another No. 8 seed at 20-to-1, making a run. But with Arkansas, it’s a matter of expectation that a disappointing team plays at its level of talent. Memphis is already hot after winning the AAC tournament.

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SP: I’m definitely interested in Memphis. They came within a bucket of beating Houston twice in eight days. They will not be afraid of anyone. Kenpom has them as a top 20 team; Memphis was absurdly underrated in the NCAA arena.

I would normally be pitching Duke at +800 to make the Final Four. The dots all connect — the talented but young team, the rookie head coach, the slow-evolving Polaroid — and they’ve become ATMs of late. But Oral Roberts was a wicked joke played on the Blue Devils in Round 1, having to compete with a tournament-veteran mid-major Onion. No jersey will cover ORU just by looking at it. I was ready to choose these two schools to win multiple rounds, now it is impossible.

Which higher seeds are prone to spoilage?

FS: I really don’ get Kansas State as a No. 3 seed. The Wildcats have talent but I would happily take a lower seed like UConn or Duke if they played. Moving down a seed line, I really don’t have a lot of faith in Virginia, which has been really mediocre for over a month, or Indiana either because they’re from the Big Ten. I would probably place a moneyline bet against all three teams on their first round opponents (Montana State, Furman, Kent State). And while I don’t think Tennessee gets an outright upset in the first round, I would take points with Louisiana in the first round and take either Duke or Oral Roberts on them in the second round.

SP: Everyone needs a set of rules to live by, a code if you will. Never say no to soup or garlic bread. Always bet against Greg Norman. I’m always going to play against Rick Barnes and Tennessee — especially with point guard Jakai Zieglar out of the mix — and I want to fade to the Big Ten. So I’m with you Vanishing Indiana.

I also struggle to trust Virginia, a team that never wants to run or crash the offensive board (it’s almost a bit much at this point), but also struggles to run a crisp halfcourt offense against better opposition. does (the ACC Finals were difficult to watch). Virginia is also a mediocre free-throw shooting team. The Cavaliers have always coached well, but it may not be enough. They feel overseen as 4.

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Just throwing it out there, Vermont has a chance to punch out against Marquette. The Catamounts are senior-driven and cohesive, and brimming with confidence after a 15-game win streak. Hiccup doesn’ matter in November; Problems have been fixed. And this is another mid-major who has been to tournaments before, the bright lights won’t faze him. It’s hard to believe that Marquette has never been seeded this high before, but I suspect this may be a short-lived story.

Which first round bet do you like best?

FS: I hate to turn it against you on anything but I like Marquette, even double digits. Looks like they overwhelm Vermont a bit. I’ve given Montana State, Furman and Kent State a lot of my best bets on the points and moneyline in the section above, but I’ll add Michigan State (USC has a brutal spot to travel to and then play Ohio) 9:15 a.m. Pacific Time), Arkansas (Illinois is part of our shared “Fed the Big Ten” plan), Creighton and Drake as another double-digit seed winner.

And as a bonus, I’m eager to bet on Memphis vs. Purdue if the Tigers can beat a really good Florida Atlantic team in the first round.

SP: Working in chronological order, this is what I’m locked in:

I realize Furman is the reverse of America, but the Furman/Virginia game screams that for me. The Cavaliers will find their momentum. Although they cannot win. Under 132.5, please.

No one turns steak into a Hamburger Helper quite like Rick Barnes. I can’ claim to have discovered the deepest Louisiana, but that doesn’t matter. I’ll bet against Tennessee until they are eliminated. This is annual leave-fund money. Catch 11.5.

We’ll know quickly which of us is to the right of Vermont-Marquette. But Vermont has two major things going for it as a double-digit underdog; Seniors on the court, and a deliberate pace. I don’ expect this game to get out of hand early, and the opening minutes are crucial for the heavy underdog. I wish I had punched Catamount sooner, but it’s below 10.5. I can’t see it going down; I’ll punch my Vermont ticket in a day or two, see if it pops up.

Connecticut is a Jekyll-Hyde team, a chariot on the right day, a mess on the wrong day. But they are up against an Iona team that likely has one foot out the door with Rick Pitino. St. John’s? Georgetown? He will miss playing winged foot, we know that. UConn finished 10–4 and all losses were one-possession games, for three outstanding teams. The Huskies can easily make -9.5.

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I have to pick Memphis -2.5 over Florida Atlantic for their Memphis Round 2 upset over Purdue. Another one for Team America. And save me points for Kent State (+4.5) and some space on the money line against Indiana.

Memphis Tigers forward DeAndre Williams (12) and Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway are the No. 8 seeds in the NCAA tournament.  (Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Memphis Tigers forward DeAndre Williams (12) and Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway are the No. 8 seeds in the NCAA tournament. (Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

What’s your last four?

FS: Like Scott said earlier, the seeds in this Final Four may seem like a Powerball ticket. It’s hard to pick a specific team outside the first few rows to go that far. I’m Alabama (their Top Gear is special), Texas (those two blowout wins late in the season over Kansas are hard to ignore), UConn (metrics darling) and Duke (a young team that’s figured it out and is rolling) Will take more than a month).

SP: I wish I had the guts to do something really crazy, but I have to lean toward what’s possible. The East is going to be a blast, so many teams can win, but I like the Duke Angles you played. Arizona in the south. I’m torn between Gonzaga (angel offense, no defense) and UCLA (no Jalen Clark, ding up adem bona); The odds of the winner are in favor of anyone else in that field. It’s called UCLA. and Houston would win the Midwest and get their Final Four home game. Merry Christmas, Jim Nantz.

Who’s Your Championship (And Best Bet)?

FS: I’d pick Alabama to win it all, and I don’ think that’s so bad for +800 odds. I need some better odds for the best bet. I’m surprised Duke is +3000. It’s entirely reasonable to think that Duke will need some time to figure things out early in the season with a rookie head coach leading a young team. But the talent was never in doubt, and it’s been on full display for a few weeks now. Rooting for Duke isn’t fun, but the 30-to-1 odds are worth grabbing.

SP: I’m punching Duke right behind you at 30-1. it’s possible. It was never about talent. Kyle Filipowski has get-on-my-back ability. The growth of Tyrese Proctor has enabled Jeremy Roach to play an off-guard role. Form matters. They are also the longest team in the field.

If I had to pick a champion and the odds were irrelevant, I would do the prudent thing with Houston. But what’s the fun in that? Give me UCLA and Gonzaga tickets. I can’ wait to see that game, hopefully, next week.