We are now fully entrenched in college basketball conference play, and it is time to take another look at the Championship Odds. Here is your favorite, smart bet and dark horse play for the greatest sporting event on the planet, March Madness!
Favorite: Houston Cougars +700
Somehow, the Cougars remain the favorite at a worse price then they were prior to their loss to Alabama a few weeks ago. That said, Kelvin Sampson’s club has won five consecutive games since that loss, including a high-level victory over the Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville.
The Cougars remain arguably the best defensive team in the nation, holding opponents to an incredible 38.7% effective field goal percentage which ranks second in the nation. Their 50.9 points allowed per game is one of the most impressive statistics in all of college basketball and ranks as the best in the nation.
Smart Bet: Arizona Wildcats +1400
Tommy Lloyd’s team makes the list this week, as the Wildcats have become one of the most consistently impressive teams in college basketball. Arizona is currently 13-1 on the season, having only lost to a surprising Utah team on the road earlier in the season. The Wildcats have won seven consecutive games since that defeat in a string that includes victories over Tennessee, Indiana, and Arizona State.
The Wildcats are currently the number one team in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, largely in part to them being the best two-point shooting team in the nation. Arizona deploys two effective big men in Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo, who combine to average 37.5 points and 18 rebounds per game. Ballo also excels in rim protection as the fourth leading shot blocker in the Pac-12 thus far in the season.
On the perimeter, steady-handed point guard Kerr Kriisa currently leads the conference in total assists at 84 while shooting a dangerous 39.8% from behind the arc. He can be a playmaker for his very talented teammates or take matters into his own hands from the point guard position making the Wildcats one of the favorites as we turn the calendar.
Dark Horse: Xavier Musketeers +6500
It’s called a dark horse pick for a reason. While this Xavier team is not as good as some in recent memory, these Musketeers recently proved they can beat anyone in the nation. Sean Miller’s team handed Connecticut their first loss of the season last weekend and have now won eight consecutive games.
Connecticut wasn’t Miller’s first big-money pelt of the season, as this club has also defeated West Virginia and Florida this season and fell by only two points to Indiana and four to Gonzaga. The Musketeer frontcourt of Jack Nunge, Zack Freemantle, and Colby Jones may be the most undervalued trio in the nation as this group can simply do it all and score all over the court. This team is definitely worth a speculative sprinkle for the benefit of both cash and tremendous bragging rights.