March Madness: Major Conferences Field Dominant Teams in NCAA Brackets
The field of 68 in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament can be counted on this year, as usual, to include a surprising number of bracket-busting upsets. It’s what makes March Madness one of the top events for betting.
Remember those topsy-turvy 12-5 results in previous years? Since 1985, when the tournament field expanded, the 12-seeds have pulled off 51 upsets, for a 35.42 win percentage.
But in a grueling tournament schedule that ends with the title game early next month, a few top-ranked teams from major conferences are projected to plow through the brackets.
More than one of these teams could end up in the Final Four matchups April 2-4 at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.
Major Conferences Well Represented
A few powerhouse schools from major conferences are among the favorites this year.
The major conferences, stacked with competitive programs and stellar athletes, often produce teams that are sharpened by tough regular-season schedules.
Overall, 32 conferences compete to put one of their teams at the top of the mountain in the final game. In total, 349 Division I teams are eligible to contend for the title.
But more than half the teams in this year’s tournament come from six high-profile conferences. They are:
- Big 10: 9
- Big East: 6
- Big 12: 6
- SEC: 6
- ACC: 5
- Pac-12: 3
Tournament Play Begins Tuesday
With play beginning Tuesday, speculation has run high for several days about which teams will dominate on the road to New Orleans. It's a question those who participate in college basketball betting are asking.
Dan Wolken, a national columnist for USA Today, liked when he saw in the PAC-12 tournament. The No. 2-ranked Arizona Wildcats (31-3) won the conference tournament over the weekend weekend with a 84-76 win against UCLA (25-7). The Bruins are ranked No. 13 nationally.
“Wouldn’t shock me if Arizona-UCLA is the national title game,” Wolken tweeted. “Quality of play has been higher than anything I’ve seen this week in Big Ten, SEC or ACC.”
LaPhonso Ellis and other commentators on ESPN’s Selection Sunday show expressed surprise that SEC tournament champion Tennessee (26-7), the No. 9-ranked team nationally, didn’t land a first or second seed.
This season the Volunteers beat Arizona, North Carolina, Kentucky (twice) and conference regular-season champion Auburn. The Vols soundly defeated SEC tournament runner-up Texas A&M 65-50 on Sunday to win the team’s first tournament title since 1979.
On Sunday, however, the Vols ended up as a third seed in the South Region, facing 14-seed Longwood on Thursday in Indianapolis.
Bookmakers Post Odds
As analysts continue to speculate on the bracket matchups, bookmakers are posting national championship odds. Major-conference teams are well-positioned on the board. Below are odds that BetMGM Sportsbook released Sunday.
- Gonzaga: +350
- Arizona: +600
- Kentucky: +800
- Duke: +1000
- Baylor: +1200
- Kansas: +1200
- Purdue: +1400
- Auburn: +1400
- Texas Tech: +1800
- Villanova: +2200
With sports betting operational in 30 states and Washington, D.C., wagering is expected to be heavy nationwide throughout the tournament.
While the number of bets is likely to be large, many tournament wagers are not headline-grabbing massive amounts. The median-size wager on a game’s outcome is $30, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming.
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