As we grow closer and closer to March Madness, I will be here to provide the necessary weekly updates on teams trending up and down and what future values are offered as a result. I will also be covering any important storylines along with a Cinderella watch. Be sure to check out my latest bracketology article and be on the lookout for version 3.0 later this week.
- Everyone’s a Winner in the Big Ten: With Penn State falling to Nebraska on Sunday, every Big Ten team now has a conference victory. As Emily Giambalvo pointed out on Twitter, everyone is a transitive champion now in the Big Ten. I know I talk about the Big Ten a lot, but it is ridiculous how difficult that conference is. On BetRivers, Michigan State is currently +8000 to win the National Championship, but +10000 to win the Big Ten tournament. Essentially, some books think it’ll be harder to get through the Big Ten tournament than the actual March Madness one! And for the record, yes, I think +10000 is a good value for Tom Izzo and company to take down the Big Ten crown.
- Creighton a worthy contender in the Big East: This entire season, Creighton has essentially been the little brother to Villanova’s big brother spotlight. Saturday showed that Creighton is no pushover, however, as they handled the Wildcats in an 86-70 route. I understand that Creighton was shooting pretty lights out, but that is something they are completely capable of day in-and-out. The Blue Jays appear to be hitting their stride at the perfect time and have another date with Villanova in a couple of weeks to prove that they are a legitimate title contender.
- Can the Mountain West get some love?: After SDSU’s 30-2 season a year ago, most have turned a blind eye to the Mountain West Conference this year. This conference boasts three potential tournament teams in Boise State, Utah State, and SDSU, all of which sit in the KenPom top-75, with SDSU leading the way ranked 23rd. The Broncos at +400 to win the conference offers substantial value. Boise State and Utah State matchup with each other on Wednesday night. It will be a good way to understand where the two teams are at.
- Ohio State (+3000): My oh my, have the Buckeyes come out of the woodworks. After winning their last six games, Ohio State has jolted into the fourth number one seed per the early look at the NCAA’s top-16 teams. With the 11th highest odds at some books, now will most likely be the best value to grab them at before books catch up.
- Seton Hall (+8000): The Pirates helped their bubble claims in the last couple of weeks, winning three-straight games against Providence, UConn, and Marquette. Seton Hall avoids Creighton and Villanova for the rest of the regular season, so they very well could win-out, and only better their championship odds.
- Memphis (+20000): While the Tigers are currently not in the tournament, they have won six out of their last seven games, including three-straight. They end their season at home vs. Houston, and the Tigers’ stout defense can keep them in any game. Pulling off a win over Houston is viable and could lead Memphis to a tournament bid.
- Tennessee (+3300): After starting the season 10-1, the volunteers are 4-4, getting crushed by LSU just this past weekend. Their final four games aren’t that difficult, so it will be tough for the Vols to increase their stock before the tournament, but it very much can still fall.
- Drake (+7500): As soon as Drake garnered national attention, they fell to Valparaiso and got walloped by Loyola Chicago. They did make up for the ladder lost by taking down Loyola in overtime in their second matchup, but the Bulldogs are the second-best team in a conference that will most likely be a one-bid league.
- UCLA (+9000): The Bruins are 2-3 in their last five games, with both wins coming against sub-100 ranked teams. Their +9000 championship future offered is not great value, and they have a tough schedule to finish the season. If they continue playing as they currently are, don’t be surprised to see UCLA end up as a bubble team come Selection Sunday.
These are teams most likely to be 12-14 seeds, mostly from mid-major conferences, that have a good chance of making it to the second weekend and beyond. Come tourney time, they should absolutely be on your radar.
- Belmont (+30000): The 22-1 Bruins have flown under the radar due to Drake and Loyola Chicago getting all the mid-major love, but they haven’t lost a game since December 5th. Belmont is playing incredibly efficiently and shoots lights out from the field, with nearly a 62% clip from inside-the-arc, ranking second-best in college basketball. This is a dangerous team that has been dominating their competition of late and should garner a lot more attention than they currently have. To get them at +30000 from FOX Bet is a shot in the dark but is a much better value than the +10000 they sit at from other books.
- Winthrop (+20000): Another one-loss team, the Eagles of Winthrop are poised to be a giant killer in March. They play at an up-tempo pace, forcing a high rate of turnovers while dominating the glass. I expect them to cruise through the Big South Conference tournament and cause trouble for whoever they face in round one of the tourney.
- Wright State (+35000): Winning each of their last nine games, the Raiders of Wright State are playing at another level above their Horizon League competition. They’re even ranked 56th in KenPom as I write this, which is higher than teams such as Drake, Syracuse, Stanford, and Michigan State. The Raiders play clean basketball and are solid on both sides of the ball, ranking 8th in defensive effective FG% and 26th offensively.
- Honorable Mentions: Vermont, Colgate, Western Kentucky
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Ryan Coleman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Ryan, check out his archive.