NCAA Basketball Tournament Predictions
March Madness 2016 Odds & Analysis
Editor’s Note: AP rank is indicated in the first parentheses and RPI in the second along with odds to win according to topbet. Teams are ranked according to their most current AP rankings. AP ranks are current the week of 2/29/16.
Kansas (AP 1) (RPI 1) +650
It’s hard to overlook one of the most dominant teams this season. Kansas has proved time and time again that they are able to hang with the toughest teams in the country. Thanks to their number one RPI ranking and 8-3 record against top 25 teams, the Jayhawks should be a safe bet to take home the title. A 30-point thrashing of Texas this last week also has only served to bolster Kansas’ case.
Michigan State (2) (12) +600
The odds-on favorite to win it all, Tom Izzo’s squad is in this position thanks to their trio of senior starters. Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello have combined to score over half of the Spartans’ points this season at 44.8. This is another low-ceiling bet to make a run at the title and their lower RPI shouldn’t scare you off considering Izzo’s record of success in Lansing.
Villanova (3) (6) +1400
The Wildcats are led by a balanced starting lineup, all players averaging over double-digit point totals for each game. They’ve had a really strong run this season, but their record against other top 25 teams (2-3) leaves something be desired.
Virginia (4) (3) +1400
Virginia is one of the more interesting picks to take home the title considering their top-five ranking in both the AP poll and the RPI, the only other team that has that distinction is Kansas. The Cavaliers are one of the better picks at the +1400 range. They do have some battle scars thanks to their brutal schedule but they should be a force in the tournament. Leader scorer Malcolm Brogdon is a player to watch considering his critical contributions to the Cavaliers offense with his 18.5 ppg.
Oklahoma (6) (5) +1400
The Sooners offense starts and ends with Buddy Hield. The senior has taken off this year after averaging 17.4 points per game last year. Hield has been one of the leading scorers in the country with an average of 25.3. If Hield can stay healthy they might be able to make a run at the title, however they still have to get over old foe Kansas to take home the title.
Oregon (9) (4) +2500
Oregon might be one of the more alluring picks coming out of the Pac-12 conference. The Ducks cruised through a tough conference schedule to a 13-4 record and their 4-1 mark against top 25 teams makes them one of the better bets at making a splash during the first couple rounds of the tournament.
The Dark Horses
Arizona (18) (31) +2500
This is going to be the swan song season for Arizona seniors Gabe York and Kaleb Tarczewski so they have a ton to play for this post-season. The Wildcats are another team that could surprise at the tournament, or they could suffer another early round exit, a common trend under head coach Sean Miller. All of this is predicated on the senior core of Arizona staying healthy and whether or not they can get past Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament, a likely feat if they can hit on all cylinders.
Texas (23) (26) +3500
This is the biggest longshot of any of the groups on the list, but don’t count out the Longhorns. Yes, the 30-point beating at the hands of Kansas was a huge setback, but Texas could still make a run given their battle-tested experience in the Big 12. The Longhorns are worth a futures bet if nothing else.
Kentucky (22) (15) +1200
How can one of the historically top-ranked teams in the country be a dark horse? Well, it’s a mixture of recent history and subdued success this year. However, oddsmakers are still thinking that coach John Calipari and his gang of fabulous freshman might make another run in the postseason. Expectations should be tempered for Kentucky considering their relatively high odds to win and their not-as-stellar record this season.
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