Selection Sunday is just a few days away as we enjoy Championship Week. There are always shocking results come tournament time, but some of those so-called shocking moments are less than some often realize. Here is a look at some things you need to know before filling out your brackets and think about betting on college basketball, including a nice mid-major, coaches to fade, and who to trust.
Betting Predictions and Things to Know for the 2023 NCAA Tournament
Strong Mid-Major Team
Of the automatic qualifiers so far one team sticks out. The Paladins of Furman will be making their first NCAA Tournament since the 1979-80 season, but that isn’t because they didn’t necessarily deserve one. Coach Bob Ritchey has won at least 22 games in five of his six seasons at the helm, with a career-high 27 coming this season.
The Paladins are an incredibly well-balanced team this season, with four players averaging double figures. Jalen Slawson is one of the best mid-major players in the nation that can play inside out, handle the ball and run the break. Guard JP Pegues averaged just 12 points on the season but dominated the SoCon Postseason Tournament by averaging 21 points per contest on nearly 50% shooting from the field.
Know Your Coaches
There are certain stigmas that seem to follow coaches around regardless of whether or not they are warranted. For instance, Mark Few is known for being a coach that can’t seem to win the big game. While this may be news to some, but it should be said that winning an NCAA Tournament is extremely difficult, and making three sweet sixteens and two elite eights since 2015 is nothing to sneeze at.
Some coaches, however, really deserve the criticism. One that will definitely be participating in the dance this season is Rick Barnes of Tennessee Volunteers. Despite his unbelievable regular season success over the years, Barnes has seen the second weekend of the tournament just a single time since the 2009 event. It will be interesting to see if Coach Barnes can reverse that trend, having just lost his dynamic perimeter defender Zakai Ziegler to a knee injury.
The second coach that you need to be wary of is Iowa’s, Fran McCaffery. When you think of the Iowa Hawkeyes during this regime, you have to think of a very successful program and you’re not wrong at least not during the regular season. It all takes a dive on the dance floor, though as McCaffery has punched his dance card ten times during his career and has never seen the second weekend.
Bet the Balance
Over the last 15 seasons or so, a trend has emerged amongst NCAA Tournament champions, they are well-balanced. Over the last five seasons, the trend has been basically cast in stone. From a KenPom standpoint, the worst defensive team to cut down the nets in the last five seasons was Baylor, who ranked 22nd in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency in 2021.
The worst offensive team to win the title during that span is North Carolina in 2017, who ranked ninth in adjusted offensive efficiency. Bet on teams that have quality guard play and are balanced offensively and defensively. Currently, there are just two teams that rank within the top 15 in both, Houston and UConn.
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