The time has finally arrived. After missing out on March Madness due to COVID-19 last year, the NCAA Tournament is set to begin Thursday with the First Four games. Everyone has been putting together their brackets while preparing for their favorite wagers in the opening round and the rest of the tournament. There are plenty of value spots still available, which I have outlined below.
Alabama +2000 to Win the NCAA Championship
I laid some cash on Alabama in mid-January when Jahvon Quinerly, Herbert Jones, and Jordan Bruner were all injured at +6600. BetRivers currently has the line at +2000, which is about right but the factor at play here is the attack point of the Michigan Wolverines. Currently, Isaiah Livers is sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot, which could keep him out at least through the first weekend of hoops, if Michigan can get to the Sweet 16. Livers averages 13.1 PPG and 6.1 RPG, so this is a notable loss that came into play during the Big Ten Tournament. Josh Primo is questionable for the Crimson Tide, but they are battle-tested after previously overcoming adversity brought about by injuries earlier in the season. Alabama is the best team in the East region, so they are worth the future.
Arkansas to Win the NCAA Championship
Outside of Baylor and Ohio State, Arkansas is better than every other team in the South region. They have the number 14 overall Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, according to KenPom, which is a contributing ingredient to a Final Four team time and time again. The Razorbacks are the second-best team out of the SEC behind Alabama, and they have a fantastic coach in Eric Musselman who took a Nevada Wolfpack team full of transfers to the 2018 Sweet 16 as a 7-seed. Arkansas is stronger than that team, and Moses Moody can lead the charge, averaging over 17 PPG. Arkansas also plays at the 17th fastest tempo in college basketball. This will throw off Texas Tech if they can beat Colgate in the Round of 64. This team is not too far behind Alabama, so +5000 is a nice gift.
Oregon to Make the Final Four
The West region is by far the weakest group of teams in the tournament. Creighton had an awful Big East Tournament appearance. Virginia is battling COVID-19 issues and will not be able to take the court until later this week. Kansas misses Jalen Wilson, possibly due to COVID-19, and Iowa has a litany defensive shortcomings. Gonzaga is the best team in the region, and to use a quote from the movie Miracle, “If (Gonzaga) played (Oregon) ten times, they might win nine”. Oregon just needs to get to the Elite 8. They did struggle against Oregon State in the Pac-12 Tournament, but they have a top 20 offense and do not tend to turn the ball over. If they can power past VCU and Iowa, they are in great shape. I think this team is a 5-seed, so with the easier road to the Final Four, there is major value on them to get there.
UNC Greensboro to Make the Sweet 16
UNCG is a top 100 KenPom team that handled competition in the Southern Conference and faces a Creighton team not playing at its peak. If they can overcome the Blue Jays, the following round entails either UVA or Ohio, and UVA will have to rush to put together a game plan with their COVID-19 layoff. There is a good chance Ohio could beat UVA given the pace they play. Ohio is +700 to make the Sweet 16, while UNCG is +2000. That is a major discrepancy and should be much closer, especially if the two end up meeting in the Round of 32. UNCG’s top 70 defense should be able to handle Creighton or at least keep it close. If they can do so, a Sweet 16 is within reach.
UNC Greensboro +2000
There you have it, folks. As always follow me @cwsdjt on Twitter where I give out picks daily. Also be sure to go onto BetRivers and use promo code ONTAP for a free deposit match of up to $250, just in time for the tournament. Best bets, everyone!