March Madness: Title Odds Favor Big-Name Teams, Major Conferences

March Madness: Title Odds Favor Big-Name Teams, Major Conferences
© USA Today

With March Madness tipping off Tuesday, regional pride, and conference bias, can come into play for fans and bettors eyeing the brackets.

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This year, the Big 10, a conference made up of 14 teams, has placed nine members in the men’s tournament.

The Big East, Big 12 and SEC have six teams each, while the ACC has five, its fewest number since 2014, when the conference expanded to 15 teams.

The Mountain West Conference, with four teams, has more representation than the higher-profile PAC-12’s three.

The West Coast Conference also has three teams in the tournament, including the overall No.1 seed, the Gonzaga Bulldogs. This is Gonzaga’s fifth No. 1 seed since 2013.

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March Madness Picks: Experts Weigh In

Like fans across the country, analysts assessing the field of 68 have different opinions on the expected outcomes.

Dan Wolken, a USA Today columnist, recently tweeted his Final Four picks. They include two PAC-12 schools (UCLA and Arizona), one SEC team (Arkansas) and one from the Big 12 (Kansas).

Andy Katz, an analyst for the Big Ten Network and ncaa.com, has Arizona (PAC-12) against Iowa (Big 10) in one Final Four matchup and Purdue (Big 10) versus Gonzaga (WCC) in the other.

Katz predicts Arizona will beat Purdue in the title game.

"At the end of the day, I just love the way Arizona is playing right now. I think they’re playing the best basketball in the country,” he said.

Christopher Boan, lead writer for @betarizona.com and @bookies.com, is picking Arizona, Gonzaga, UCLA and Iowa in the Final Four. Like Arizona, UCLA is a PAC-12 school. Boan has the nationally No. 2-ranked Arizona Wildcats winning the NCAA championship.

John Ryan of Gambling.com is taking the SEC regular-season champion Auburn Tigers to win it all. Coached by veteran Bruce Pearl, Auburn is led on the floor by 6-foot-10 power forward Jabari Smith Jr.

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CBS Sports has Gonzaga, with the addition of 7-foot-1 freshman Chet Holmgren to last year’s tournament runner-up, as the team to beat for the title on April 4 in New Orleans.

“There are a lot of viable national title contenders in this year's bracket — more than last year for sure — but Gonzaga's floor is higher than any other team, while its ceiling is as good as any other team, too,” the network says on its website.

March Madness Title Odds

With the brackets set, bettors are focusing not only on single-game action, but also on the odds to win the national championship. Below is the line movement on Monday from BetMGM Sportsbook.

  • Gonzaga: +600 to +300
  • Arizona: +5000 to +600
  • Kentucky: +1600 to +950
  • Kansas: +1600 to +950
  • Baylor: +2000 to +1200
  • Duke: +1400, no movement
  • Auburn: +5000 to +1400
  • Texas Tech: +3500 to +2200
  • Iowa: +10000 to +2500

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Caesars Sportsbook also has Gonzaga, Arizona and Kentucky at the top of its national championship board, with title odds set for all 68 teams.

It also has two long shots at the bottom of its board: the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders and Texas Southern Tigers.

Both of these Lone Star State teams are at +200000.

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