NCAA Men's Championship Odds: Field is Wide Open

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NCAA Men's Championship Odds: Field is Wide Open
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Gone are the days when the Gonzaga Bulldogs or Baylor Bears were perennial favorites leading up to March. 

For the 2022-23 season, parity has ruled college basketball

Upsets have been commonplace, with numerous teams failing to hang on to the No. 1 spot. The Houston Cougars, Alabama Crimson Tide and Purdue Boilermakers have each shared the top spot in the polls and each team has been there in the past three weeks.  

The betting board has reflected this parity throughout the season. Houston opened as the favorite at +800 and has remained steady around that mark, including at +650 at FanDuel. But in the last five years, it’s the first time there hasn’t been a larger favorite at this point in the season. Each of those seasons had a team listed at lower odds +600 or lower. 

  • 2018: Michigan State (+600)
  • 2019: Duke (+210)
  • 2020: Kansas (+450)
  • 2021: Baylor (+300), Gonzaga (+300), Michigan (+400)
  • 2022: Gonzaga (+400)

The only team to win a title from that group was Baylor in 2021, with the 2020 Kansas team not getting a chance to contend due to the tournament being canceled.  

The Favorite 

Houston is listed as the betting favorite to win it all, and it aligns with the college basketball advanced metrics. The Cougars are ranked as the No. 1 most efficient team in KenPom, Barttorvik and hold the top spot in the NCAA Net rankings. 

If traditional stats are more your thing, Houston allows the fewest points per game in the country at 55.9 and is second behind Tennessee in opponent's field goal percentage (35.9%).  

The Cougars also have a potential lottery pick in forward Jarace Walker along with a veteran backcourt of Marcus Sasser, Tramon Mark and Jamal Shead. Overall, the pieces are there for Houston.  

Big 12 

The last two national champions have come from the Big 12, with Kansas winning last year, following Baylor’s triumph in 2021. Six Big 12 teams are currently in the Top 20 on DraftKings' odds board to win the title, including Kansas (+950), Texas (+1800), Baylor (+2000), TCU (+3500) and Kansas State (+3500), and Iowa State (+4000). 

The conference is expected to get possibly nine teams in the tournament field, with Oklahoma State (+10000), Texas A&M (+10000) and West Virginia (+10000) projected to qualify.  

Texas Tech (+15000) is the lone team currently set not to make the tournament, but the Red Raiders are in the next four out category in some bracketologies, meaning they could still work their way in and ensure each Big 12 team is in the tournament for March Madness.  

 

Range to Target 

Five of the last 10 champions were listed between +800 and +1500 at this time of the year. These teams include 2013 Louisville (+1000), 2015 Duke (+900), 2016 Villanova (+1225), 2019 Virginia (+800) and 2022 Kansas (+1400).  

After Houston, the next top five teams on the odds board are in this range.  

Kansas has key holdovers from last year’s title team, including guards Jalen Wilson, Dajuan Harris and K.J. Adams, and Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCullar and freshman Gradey Dick. 

Alabama (+900) is currently embroiled in controversy with Brandon Miller’s involvement in a murder orchestrated by one of his former teammates. But at this time, Miller has not been charged with a crime and continues to play on the Alabama basketball team.  

Purdue (+1000) has the favorite for national player of the year in Zach Edey. The 7-foot-3 center averages 22.1 points and 12.7 rebounds while making 62% of his shot attempts.  

UCLA (+1300) and Arizona (+1400) both have balanced teams with dynamic point guard and front court combinations. The Bruins feature Tyga Campbell and Jaime Jaquez, while Kerr Kriisa and Azuolas Tubelis lead the way for the Wildcats.  

A longer shot to take 

Of the last 10 champions, the one to win with the longest odds near the start of March was the 2014 Connecticut Huskies at +7500. If we’re looking at a team with bigger odds this season, I’m going with Gonzaga at +3000.  

The Bulldogs have the No. 1 ranked offense on KenPom and Barttorvik, average the most points per game in the country at 87.5 and have been peaking at the right time. 

Over its last seven games, Gonzaga has recorded a Battorvik game score of over 90 five times, including a perfect 100 against Loyola Marymount when the Bulldogs put up 68 first-half points. Teams that also had five game scores over 90 over its last seven games include Houston, UCLA and Alabama, but Gonzaga has better odds compared to those teams.  

All-American forward Drew Timme has remained one of the best bigs in the country (21.3 points, 62% shooting), but the team’s best draft prospect, Julian Strawther, has elevated Gonzaga. Strawther has a 40-point game this season but has gotten hot lately, scoring 26, 28 and 28 points in his previous three contests.  

Gonzaga will be highlighted this weekend with College Gameday visiting Spokane for Saturday’s game between the Bulldogs and Saint Mary’s Gaels, to decide the WCC regular-season champion.  

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