Princeton Tigers Remain a Live Dog +10 Against Creighton
It might seem counterintuitive, but Creighton has struggled at times this season to defend the post, and Princeton is rolling right now as it exposes the paint against other bigger teams. It will be interesting to watch whether 6-8 Ivy League Player of the Year Tosan Evbouomwan gets matched up against Ryan Kalkbrenner, or some of the smaller but very skilled defensive wings for the Creighton Bluejays. Either way, taking 10 points with Princeton feels like the best value based on what we’ve seen.
Arkansas Razorbacks +4 Against UCONN is a Slam Dunk
This is where we start to follow the trail that led us here. What teams have these teams beaten to get here? Arkansas handled Illinois, another evenly ranked team. Then, they knocked off the #1 seeded defending champion Kansas Jayhawks in dramatic fashion mounting a comeback in the final minutes.
On the flip side, the UCONN Huskies beat an Iona team that had its coach clearly on the way out (see Rick Pitino). Then, they beat a St. Mary’s team that was probably the most vulnerable top 25 team in terms of its propensity for serious droughts on offense.
Taking Texas on the moneyline against Xavier
If you haven’t caught the trend, I don’t think that more than one team from the Big East will make the Elite 8. Texas put out the fire on a red hot Penn State team and looked superior doing it. Xavier struggled at times against 14 seed Kennesaw State and then again against 11 seed Pittsburgh on its third game in five days. Sure, Xavier won by several possessions, but if you watched the game you noticed that Pitt hung around. Senior (Graduate) starting guard Souley Boum struggled on offense and was held scoreless for a majority of the game. I think you’re starting to see the liabilities for Xavier and its lack of depth with Zach Freemantle unavailable for the tournament. It’s awesome to see coach Sean Miller back on the basketball sidelines, but I just don’t see him in the Elite 8.
Track injury updates, get under-the-radar analysis, and learn some fun facts about this year’s 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Links our top 5 trending articles are listed below.
BY MATTY D.
Filling out this year’s bracket was like putting my hand to a ouija board. I would have never expected having throwback teams like Memphis, Kentucky and Michigan State in this year’s Sweet Sixteen within one region. Alas, here is how my bracket revealed itself:
College basketball blogger Matt DeSarle (ie. yours truly) will return to Las Vegas for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic to track trends and hunt value during this March Madness. Follow on YouTube for sports betting tips and fun human interest stories. He will also be updating these articles to keep you up-to-date on these top 5 storylines.
It’s often said that “this year’s tournament will be unlike any other.” While that is always true, this March it will especially be the case. The 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will feature a high number of mid-major teams and a wide spectrum of ages. This tournament will feature kids who reclassified in high school to start playing college hoops at 17 years-old. Conversely, this will be one of the only tournaments you’ll ever see so many 24 and 25 year-olds (not to mention 26-year-old DeAndre Williams).
March Madness 2023 is underway and this article is tracking the most important injuries to monitor. That includes watching how teams are adjusting after losing stars. Don’t fill out your 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket before checking on the health statuses here!
BY MATTY D.
The new headline is to track the status of a starting guard for the odds-on favorite to win the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. Marcus Sasser missed the AAC Championship game against Memphis and is questionable going forward.
Unfortunately, this update also comes as one of the best players on one of the best teams just tore his ACL. Zakai Zeigler, the 5-9 spark plug for the Vols offense and defense just suffered the injury on the eve of March. Despite the cruel turn of events for this surging sophomore, he took to Twitter with a very positive message:
Aside from Zeigler’s major injury, there are many student athletes still in recovery mode. Here are the top 11 injuries to monitor while those players are nursing different ailments. See more of a summary of how this affects each team in alphabetical order below.
Top Injuries to Monitor across College Basketball
To recap, here is a top 10 list (plus some) of the most important injuries to monitor:
14. Jett Howard – Michigan guard 13. Chucky Hepburn – Wisconsin guard 12. Moussa Cisse – Oklahoma State center 11. Anthony Anderson III – Oklahoma State guard – – – – – – – – – PROJECTED CUT – – – – – – – – – 11. Nijel Pack – Miami guard 10. Efton Reid III – Gonzaga center 9. Federiko Federiko – Pittsburgh center 8. Kendrick Davis – Memphis guard 7. Timmy Allen – Texas forward 6. Ben Vander Plas – Virginia forward 5. Zach Freemantle – Xavier forward 4. Keyonte George – Baylor guard 3. *Jaylen Clark – UCLA wing 2. *Zakai Zeigler – Tennessee guard 1. Marcus Sasser – Houston guard
In the case of 2 of the top 3 injuries here, there is no chance for a recovery. Both Jaylen Clark and Zakai Zeigler are *out for the remainder of the season. In these and similar cases, we are monitoring the team adjustments instead of the personal recoveries.
Players recently returned from injury add to resurgent college basketball teams
It’s not all bad news on this list. In fact, there’s a strong handful of players who are recently back into lineups and taking their teams to the next level. Nick Smith Jr. is adding a scoring punch to an Arkansas lineup that suddenly has found itself on the bubble. Justin Moore has a month under his belt after a torn Achilles. His Villanova Wildcats looks like Nova once again. And Dariq Whitehead has been back for Duke with the Blue Devils finally safely off the bubble.
See more about each team affected in alphabetical order below.
Arkansas and its future NBA lottery pick Nick Smith Jr. navigates knee “management”
Nick Smith Jr. returned to action on February 11th after missing nearly two months with “knee management.” He played just 21 game minutes in his first pair of games, but then averaged around 35 minutes after that. In fact, he played all 40 minutes in a close matchup against the Alabama Roll Tide in a game the Razorbacks were fighting from behind for most of. He dropped 24 points and grabbed 6 points in that game. It looks like Nick Smith Jr. is back to his NBA prospect self, but check his injury status pregame during March Madness just in case!
Baylor back in the habit of reloading talent
Keyonte George missed a game at Oklahoma State in late February, but it almost didn’t matter. The freshman shooting guard has glided right into a productive role with Baylor this season. But in his absence, the Baylor Bears just reloaded again. This team is already accustomed to losing one or two first round picks to the NBA every year. Now, it’s also been in the unfortunate habit of having injured players miss some of all of the season. Baylor has been in postseason position and jockeying for the Big 12 title this season, despite not having veteran forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua. Now he is back.
In that Oklahoma State game that George missed with an ankle sprain, seldom used guard Dale Bonner filed right in with 15 points in 32 minutes. He had rarely played in the previous few games. Baylor coach Scott Drew has an abundance of riches. This team should be feared as a top pick to win it all.
Duke started its season without the services of All-American freshmen, center Dereck Lively II and small forward Dariq Whitehead. In late February, Duke had a completely clean injury report according to Covers.com. Still, double-check these youthful Dukies for any bumps and bruises.
Gonzaga monitors the injury status of its rim protector off the bench Efton Reid III
If the Gonzaga Bulldogs are going to make a deep run in the tournament, they need to stand tall at the rim. After 7-foot something Chet Holmgren left for the NBA, the Bulldogs were a little thin on the inside. They added Efton Reid III, a big man from LSU. When Reid popped up on the injury report in late February, it was a concern for Gonzaga’s overall depth.
Reid has returned to action in March, but has played sparingly. He logged only four minutes in the WCC Championship game against St. Mary’s.
Memphis monitors a motley crew of injuries to its ball-handlers
Point guard Keynote Kennedy punched a wall after a loss to Houston and effectively sidelined himself for the rest of the regular season. He was the Tigers third leading scorer. Its top scorer and senior transfer Kendrick Davis also missed that game with a bad ankle. Davis averages around 21 points a game. Both of these teams are worth monitoring as Memphis will likely be an underdog in both its own conference tournament and if/when it makes the NCAA Basketball Tournament. They’ll need all hands on deck (and not against walls).
Miami misses Nijel Pack in a game they’d like to have back
Florida State stormed back to beat the Miami Hurricanes in a game their tournament seeding will likely want back. Florida State isn’t good this year. However, it’s important to note that K-State transfer guard Nijel Pack missed that game for Miami with a lower body injury. Watch this injury closely so that Miami doesn’t suffer anymore surprises.
Michigan plays it safe with Jett Howard’s injury, looks to get on right side of bubble
The coach’s son Jett Howard missed the Wisconsin game with an ankle injury in late February where the Wolverines nearly lost. One more loss in a close game like this might cost Michigan its tournament berth. Watch Jett Howard’s status. He is averaging 14.4 points per game for a Michigan team that can struggle at times to score.
(Missouri’s Kobe Brown out with an illness February 26th – should be short term).
Oklahoma State tournament chances on thin ice while starting center and guards out
It’s never good to have your starting center and starting guard out while you’re trying to play your way off the bubble. But that’s exactly the position that Oklahoma State finds itself in. Moussa Cisse and Anthony Anderson III are both missing time as we roll into March. Anderson’s injury might be more long-standing with him dealing with a wrist injury.
Pittsburgh wins play-in-game despite not having a center in the starting lineup
The nation learned who Federiko Federiko was on Tuesday night as the tournament tipped off with its play-in games. The Panthers center was listed as a game time decision, according to Pittsburgh Sports now, but he ended up sitting out the game while nursing a knee injury. The nation watched as the Panthers battled to win a tight one point game against Mississippi State. Jorge Diaz Graham did a nice job as a substitute center, stretching Miss St. center Tolu Smith outside of the paint. The smaller lineup worked out for Pittsburgh.
(TCU’s Eddie Lampkin Jr. out with undisclosed injury late February).
Tennessee suffers major blow with Zakai Ziegler’s injury
Ziegler’s injury leaves the Vols very thin at point guard. The Volunteers just lost Kennedy Chandler to the NBA (and Memphis Grizzlies) after a one-and-done campaign. Shooting guard Santiago Vescovi is expected to do more ball handling. Tyreke Key is also expected to get more minutes.
Wisconsin watches Chucky Hepburn’s injury status
Wisconsin’s starting point guard Chucky Hepburn missed some minutes against Michigan in a critical game to finish February. He remains on the injury report with a lower body injury. Hepburn played the last few games for the Badgers, including a first round win against Bradley in the NIT Tournament.
Xavier’s Zach Freemantle ruled out for remainder of the season
For a second straight season, Zach Freemantle’s foot is finding itself on the injury report at the most inconvenient time. As March began, the power forward was ruled out for the remainder of the season. This leaves a gaping hole in the front-court of Sean Miller’s core unit. Fellow big man Jack Nunge will now need to continue (Freemantle has been out for weeks) picking up the slack on the boards and with help defense. The power forward was enjoying the fruits of a veteran team playing winning basketball with Sean Miller’s return to the Musketeers sidelines. Xavier is a 3 seed and will play against upset-minded 14 seed Kennesaw State. Kennesaw State has surged onto the national radar with an impressive program turnaround against coach Amir Abdur-Rahim.
UCLA loses super athletic wing Jaylen Clark for the season in major postseason loss
UCLA has a major problem on its hands. Despite how consistent guards Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez Jr. have been over their careers, the Bruins rely on some offense you can’t draw up. This is where Jaylen Clark has come into play. He is a great slasher, finisher, and just the type of super athletic wing who you don’t have to feed the ball to in order to get productivity. His athleticism finds a way. Clark had more than doubled his offensive productivity from a season ago and averaged 16 points a game. He gave Campbell and Jaquez a great third option in the early or late stages of a shot clock. And Clark is a great defender. Now, UCLA will head into the tournament without their most athletic wing. This is a major problem.
Bolch points to how UCLA went 6-1 while freshman guard Amari Bailey was out for a month with a foot injury. This is an apples to oranges comparison to the superior athleticism that Jaylen Clark brings on the floor. Bailey is a primary ball-handler, which UCLA already has in full supply with Tyger Campbell. Instead of thinking about Bailey as a replacement, freshman Dylan Andrews is more of the prototypical wing who Bruins fans need to look forward to stepping up.
Avoiding any chance of being upset is a good thing. That’s especially true in college basketball. On a weekend when the Super Bowl is expected to feature a tight matchup between the Chiefs and Eagles, college basketball’s conference standings are tight as well. Many important conference tournaments in college hoops have bye games for its top teams. Here’s a glance at college basketball games for Super Bowl weekend, with an eye on what teams can capture those all-important byes.
Mountain West Offers High Ceiling and High Seeding
The team that climbs to the top of the Mountain West Conference this season will reach certain heights in the college hoops landscape. The Mountain West is the fourth best conference in college basketball this year. Therefore, the conference winner will get regional preference and a top 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. There will also be a pack of hikers from the league who have a high ceiling. Conversely, someone in the middle of the pack will slip and suffer a dramatic fall. Right now San Diego State is the only team from the conference that is technically “ranked” in the Top 25. The veteran team is again loaded with experienced players who can contribute 6 points or more.
The second pack of teams from the conference is a force to be reckoned with. CBS Sports bracketology expert Jerry Palm has Nevada, Boise State and New Mexico all projected in the tournament on Super Bowl weekend. New Mexico just took a bad loss to Air Force on Friday night. The Lobos could be the character that slips from the rocks and falls out of the picture.
Two teams that could back-fill their position are Utah State and UNLV. Today they stand in the NET rankings at 33 and 82 respectively. UNLV is a current victim of how daunting this Mountain West conference actually is. However, when you watch them play, you recognize the high ceiling. The Runnin’ Rebels November matchup against another underrated conference team in Dayton was a good barameter for UNLVs’ potential. Former Oklahoma Sooner transfer Elijah Harmless led the way with 24 points. The Rebels have a fleet of skilled guards and a do-the-dirty work center in David Muoka who can compete with anyone at the rim.
On Saturday, UNLV gets an enormous chance to boost its tournament resume with a game at San Diego State. It’s unlikely that UNLV wins. It’s also unlikely that UNLV makes the NCAA tournament as an at large team. However, this game is a good litmus test to watch whether UNLV has its A game ready for the Mountain West Tournament. With six conference games remaining, it’s also unlikely that UNLV grabs a first round bye in the Mountain West Tournament. The Rebels were one slot short of that accomplishment last season. Right now they are four games behind Utah State in the loss column with six games left.
Big brands re-emerge in the Big East
There has been a bit of a Renaissance in the Big East. With exception of Georgetown, the big brand names remain relevant late in the season. College basketball fans were treated to a UCONN season where the Huskies were an AP Top 5 team. Sean Miller has returned to Xavier and immediately made them an AP Top 25 team. Although they are not a tournament team, even St. John’s is playing relevant basketball and perhaps looking at an NIT or a CBI bid.
However, the biggest mover right now is the Villanova Wildcats. This statement has caused a storm of debate on our Twitter page. However, with veteran guard Justin Moore back from an achilles tear in last year’s Big Dance, Villanova looks much better than its record shows.
The tournament committee is stubborn about a lot of things. One thing they have historically actually shown common sense about is judging a team that had a major injury. With Justin Moore back today from Achilles injury, Villanova is back in the tournament hunt as well.
Villanova was leading Creighton in Omaha on the game Justin Moore returned. They lost that one, but rebounded by beating up on Depaul. With an 11-13 record, they now play Seton Hall, Butler, Providence and Xavier next. That’s four winnable games and two Quad 1 opportunities. If they win five straight in this stretch, they will be 15-13 with an opportunity to avenge their loss against Crieghton to go to 16-13. Let’s assume they lose one more of their remaining Big East schedule. They would head into Madison Square Garden as a dangerous, experienced, battle-tested, ball security advocate in the Big East Tournament at 18-14. I don’t see the tournament committee keeping this group out of the Big Dance if they win 2 of 3 in the Big East Tournament in that scenario finishing at 20-15. That’s me. Or they could just win the Big East tournament.
These college basketball teams are all high value picks as longshots to win it all.
BY MATTY D.
This has been a volatile year for college basketball’s top 25. After the long-standing favorite of Houston, numbers 2 through 10 have been a game of musical chairs. The Houston Cougars currently sit at 6-1 odds to win it all.
Best longshot odds to win the 2023 NCAA Basketball Championship
Meanwhile, college basketball fans have been treated to some real surprising performances from mid-major teams this season. This article outlines my favorite value picks for current odds to win it all. Two of those teams have improved from an off-the-radar mid-major to a staple of the AP Top 25. Only one of my 5 value teams from the start of the season have stuck on this top 5 list.
#5 Florida Atlantic 175-1 to Win NCAA Basketball Tournament
The Owls have come out of nowhere, so if you’re scratching your head, welcome to my list. The Owls haunted the Florida Gators and their high hopes for a tournament caliber year by dominating them in Gainesville. That was the start. Florida Atlantic continued their momentum into conference play where they’ve beaten tournament-relevant programs like UAB, North Texas and Western Kentucky. They have repeatedly been ranked in weekly polls in the 21-25 territory. Yet, they’re somehow still 175-1 to win it all. That, according to FanDuel Sportsbook app on February 15th.
The Owls can knock down the three. FAU’s bench can score — its two top scorers come off the bench. They rank among the top 10 teams in the nation in scoring and have a perimeter surrounded with combo guards who can create their own shots. Take your shot by considering this heavy underdog for at least a Final Four ticket. The Conference USA teams are always dangerous in March Madness (think Middle Tennessee and North Texas).
#4 Arkansas Razorbacks 50-1 to Win NCAA Basketball Tournament
This is the only SEC team to currently make the list, but there could have been many others. Missouri, Auburn, and Texas A&M are also very intriguing. Arkansas makes the list because tits resume is 95% stamped for approval and a tournament team. Those other teams may be in the 65-75% range. At 50-1, Arkansas carries the flag for a conference that is still largely underrated by the futures market. If you are a futures shopper you should consider investing in the conference itself to win it all. You might even find a 4-1 or 5-1 steal and suddenly be invested in all the high level teams — Tennessee, Alabama, the list goes on.
As for Arkansas, the roster has turned over completely for 2022-2023, but the identity remains the same. Late season news for Arkansas has been a mixed bag. They took some questionable losses like losing to Vanderbilt in mid-January and losing to Mississippi State at home mid-February. The good news is that super hyped NBA prospect combo guard Nick Smith Jr. has recently returned from his knee injury. Smith Jr. is slowing gaining more minutes and productivity as March approaches.
Smith Jr. and fellow freshman Anthony Black were especially gelling in an SEC tournament game against Auburn where they scored 14 and 19 respectively with great efficiency. This team is hitting its stride as the tournament nears.
The Hogs defend hard, play fast, and challenge at the rim on both ends. This is a better team on the defensive end, ranking in kenpom’s top 20. The Mitchell brothers offer some size and athleticism down low. Jordan Walsh is really fun to watch with his Dennis Rodman-like tenacity. The team is loaded with McDonald’s All-Americans (three current, one more committed). If you are reading mock NBA draft boards and like this team because of prospect Nick Smith Jr., don’t. Smith has not been a consistent piece of this lineup. That said, if he emerges into the rotation during the start of the tournament itself, it might be time to jump on the bandwagon. That might be a guy, and this might be a team, looking to improve its stock greatly on the national stage.
#3 College of Charleston 400-1 to Win NCAA Basketball Tournament
This one honestly made me do a double-take. I can’t believe College of Charleston is being disrespected in this way. If 400-1 is too rich for your blood (or too thrifty in this case), then you should at least consider CoC at 90-1 or 100-1 to make a magical run to a Final Four. This is a tournament team. The Cougars have cracked the AP Top 25 a few weeks ago and have stuck there in the 18-25 range. Even though they play in a mid-major conference, they may not need to win their conference tournament championship. However, they did win their conference tournament and earned a spot as a 3 loss team.
Two losses in conference took this team from 300-1 to 400-1. That includes a four point loss to Hofstra and a one point loss to Drexel. Otherwise, the Cougars only loss was against UNC early in the season. The Cougars struggled with Towson which has a great scorer in Nicholas Timberlake. The way that College of Charleston beat Towson in comeback fashion in early March and again during the Colonial Athletic Tournament shows that the Cougars can take a punch. They were the hunted all season long within their conference.
This team is especially a case where you need to shop around as a futures investor. The odds for this team are all over the place. On March 10th, three major sportsbooks had them listed with large discrepancies. Ceasars had them listed as 500-1 underdogs to win it all, while FanDuel had them at 400-1 and MGM at 250-1 (according to VegasInsider.com).
Anyone who buys this ticket should also be rooting for Florida Atlantic to win its conference tournament. Like the Owls, the Cougars don’t want to put this decision in the tournament committee hands. And if both Florida Atlantic and College of Charleston get upset in their own conference tournament, it’s highly unlikely that both get a tournament bid. Although, it would be really cool if they played each other in a play-in game! I would love that more than seeing some middle-of-the-pack power six teams play each other.
C of C has been totally running their league opponents out of the gym. They are consistently winning by 15, 20, 25 points or more. The are undefeated in the Colonial Athletic Conference and only have one loss to their name at 21-1. It has wins over Kent State, Virginia Tech, Davidson and Colorado State. Its only loss is to UNC. Bracketologist Joe Lunardi has them slotted as a 10 seed. Even if they lose one or two games in their conference, you could easily see this squad as a play-in-game 11 or 12 seed. Head coach Pat Kelsey has come over from Winthrop where he has brought his renowned conditioning and winning ways. The Cougars are deep, tall, can shoot, sprint to the ball, and play a ton of guys. A recent box score showed Kelsey playing 13 people. I didn’t even know that was possible. In that game, 10 players scored and 10 players played 9 minutes or more. Kelsey gives his guys no excuses not to run to a loose ball, hustle to a rebound, and get out in transition. The makeup of this team is perfectly suited for a tournament situation. If a 6 or 7 seed overlooks them, they’ll at least get the attention of the 2 or 3 seed in the next matchup.
#2: San Diego State 75-1 to Win NCAA Basketball Tournament
Could this be the year that the Mountain West actually clicks? If it does, this will be the team to do it. However, there is reason for suspicion. The Mountain West went winless in last season’s tournament. This year, there is a lot of noise about the conference being fourth, fifth, or sixth best in the country. They compare favorably to the ACC, which will likely get seven teams in the tournament. With so many teams with a NET ranking in the 30s or 40s, you’d assume that the Mountain West would also get multiple bids. New Mexico is fading down the stretch of the season. Nevada and Boise State are also projected tournament teams at this point. However, it’s the Aztecs that have the experienced nucleus and chronically under-the-radar culture.
Longtime Steve Fisher assistant, and now longtime San Diego State coach, Brian Dutcher has his Aztecs playing great defense as always. The Aztecs actually rank 27th on Kenpom.com in defensive efficiency, which is perhaps lower than you’d expect from the standard set there.
If you watch college basketball, the cast of characters at San Diego State is comically familiar. It seems guys like Matt Bradley and Nathan Mensah have been there for a lifetime. And they’ve achieved so much. The starting lineup features four seniors and one junior. Bradley has reached a new level with his offensive production. He is averaging 17 points in the month of February. I would hate to have a futures ticket on a young team like Arkansas and have to face a veteran bunch like San Diego State in the tournament. ESPN college basketball Seth Greenberg talks about being “invested in winning.” By that standard, it’s time that the Aztecs commitment pays dividends. The team’s Twitter hashtag is even “The Time is Now.” If you have any belief that the Mountain West will rebound and represent itself well in the tournament this season, San Diego State is a no-brainer.
#1 Drake Bulldogs 300-1 to win a College Basketball Championship
#1 Drake Bulldogs 300-1 to win a College Basketball Championship
If it weren’t for the pandemic, this team might be a household name as an underdog similar to how Oral Roberts will be perceived coming into the 2023 March Madness. Drake is big, experienced, and boast the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. In a conference that recently sent Cinderella Loyola Chicago to the Final 4, no one should be sleeping on the Bulldogs. Point guard Roman Penn is a powerful asset as an ambidextrous and wise veteran player. The Siena transfer had battled injuries throughout his collegiate career but is looking poised to lead a deep run in another tournament. Drake ran Bradley out of the gym in its conference championship game in St. Louis. Bradley was considered to be a good team. You don’t have to worry about this mid-major team not having the size to battle against a power 5 school. Darnell Brodie is built like a right guard but can guard any center nationwide. Brodie also has a sweet stroke from the charity stripe, just saying. Book the Bulldogs, Owls or Cougars in your Sweet 16 if the bracket allows for it and make for an exciting March Madness!
Removed from List: Creighton Bluejays 30-1 to Win NCAA Basketball Tournament
***Creighton has been removed from this list, as the cutoff for how to define an “underdog” has been drawn at the 60-1 threshold. Still, if you might like the argument below to buy in at 30-1.
Creighton’s futures tickets have been selling at a discount since a stretch when they lost 5 of 6 to start December. After then going on an 8 game winning streak, they just lost on Valentine’s Day to another ranked team at Providence. But when you look closer at the details, you see that this is still a Final Four caliber team. Creighton started the season ranked in the Top 10 of the AP Top 25. Futures for Creighton to win a NCAA Basketball Championship started around 35-1, dropped as low as 80-1, and have now regained strength around 35-1 again. After the Providence loss, the odds stuck at 25-1. If you are shopping, you could likely still grab this team at 30-1 or even 35-1.
Creighton has regained its footing with a solid performance within the Big East. However, its non-conference wins early in the season might be its saving grace. The Big 12 and SEC get a lot of hype as the best conferences in basketball. Well, Creighton beat Texas Tech (Big 12) and Arkansas (SEC) right before that losing streak started. And, the losing streak could certainly be attributed to losing their starting center, Ryan Kalkbrenner, to injury. Once Kalkbrenner returned, Creighton went 4-2 immediately. The loses they suffered during that rocky stretch included respectable losses to probably tournament teams. They lost to Arizona, BYU, Texas and Marquette in that stretch. This gives you an idea of how aggressively this team was scheduling. They had high hopes since challenging eventual champion Kansas in last year’s NCAA tournament.
Creighton was 65-1 to win it all on the FanDuel Sportsbook app on January 25, 2023.
Creighton’s athletic wings Arthur Kaluma and Trey Alexander set the tone for a stellar defensive squad. South Dakota State transfer Baylor Scheierman is a strong guard who can score at all three levels. He was arguably the most sought after transfer in America this offseason. And sophomore point guard Ryan Nembhard is a poised point guard who can control and take over games. Despite the turbulence, Creighton is still projected as we publish this as a tournament team. You can buy them at half off their 30-1 starting price when the season started.
When it comes to college basketball futures for March Madness 2023, Creighton lives in the same neighborhood as some blue blood programs. Duke, UNC, Creighton and Indiana all have roughly 50-1 odds to win a championship as February 2023 began. A recent poll by College Basketball Eye Test on Twitter showed that Indiana is the most popular pick among these values.
Find free picks against the spread every Saturday for college basketball here on collegebasketballeytest.com. The theme of this article is to find incorrect odds, otherwise known as “suspect spreads.” Picks are tweeted before Saturday’s tip.
College basketball eye test’s record against the spread stands at 40-46 heading into the start of March.
Because Saturdays are really the most exciting national showcase of college basketball action, we focus on this day to have some fun.
This website and its author Matty D. took a 56% winning percentage from the 2021-2022 season into the 2022-2023 campaign. Click here to see a breakdown of last year’s picks. An archive of every pick from the 2022-2023 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Season is recorded below.
College Basketball Odds and Picks Against the Odds for Today
If sports betting isn’t your thing, the odds are still a great measuring tool to debate the best teams. Join the college hoops conversation by following us here on Twitter.
NCAAB Record Against the Odds for 2022-2023 by College Basketball Eye Test
Below is a log of some of the tweets from this season with picks, good and bad.
After starting with a poor record of 9-17 to start the season, the record ATS improved to 15-21 and then 18-22 after consecutive winning weeks. That record improved to 23-25 after going 5-3 during the SEC Big 12 Challenge. However, the picks had a difficult February. Picks took a nose-dive during a 1-4 showing on the first Saturday of February. The site then went back-to back losing weeks in mid February (a disgusting 2-7 performance on the heels of a 6-7 showing).
On January 7th, the picks were particularly bad. The one saving grace being that 5 of 6 favorites taken to cover at least hit ML. Kansas State the call of the day yet another +6 dog to win outright. Picking +6 underdogs to win outright has randomly been a strength of this website.
The year 2022 ended on a sour note with picks going 3-5. That brought the season record to a 5-7 start.
Like precipitation in the Northeast, the college basketball season is starting to crystalize. The branches of pathways to March Madness already starting to harden. Conference play has begun in earnest across the nation after we’ve already learned a lot about many teams during non-conference play. Below are some picks for today’s action with some reasoning based on what we’ve seen so far.
Iconic programs KU and Indiana square off in evenly-matched gem
The national champion KU Jayhawks will host the upstart Indiana Hoosiers at Allen Fieldhouse today. IU has no business being a 5.5 point underdog. These teams are very evenly matched. In fact, Indiana has the advantage in the low post with Trayce Jackson-Davis (son of former NBA player Dale Davis). This could be one of the final marquee non-conference matchups of the calendar year 2022. The outcome of a game like this could dictate who gets a 2 seed in the tournament versus a 3 or 4 seed.
Don’t sleep on Wake Forest basketball
Despite blowing a huge lead in its last contest against LSU, Wake Forest is still a dangerous team. Florida transfer point guard Tyree Appleby is off to a great season and is listed as questionable for the game. Still, 10.5 points is too large a cushion to give Steve Forbes and this improved Demon Deacons program. A win at Wisconsin showed you what the ceiling for this squad can look like.
Alabama offers Gonzaga another crack at cracking the top 10
College basketball star Drew Timme‘s senior campaign isn’t getting off to the start Gonzaga had hoped for. It’s been a rocky stretch as the Zags have challenged themselves to a gauntlet of a non-conference schedule (as per usual). Today he plays against top 10 Alabama and a freshman phenom, Brandon Miller. Miller is looking for like a top 5 NBA Draft pick with every new NCAA game he puts on film. By college basketball standards, which has no standards, Alabama should be as safe a bet at even money at home.
Kerr Kriisa was in street clothes to watch Arizona beat UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship after suffering an ankle injury late this season. Ankle injuries are among the most common injuries in basketball, but have varying grades of severity.
By the looks of it, Kerr Kriisa’s severity of a sprain is high and he won’t play this week…
Baylor Guards LJ Cryer and Kendall Brown listed with leg injuries
Kendall Brown played in Baylor’s last game, a loss to TCU, while LJ Cryer did not.
LJ Cryer has been listed as day-to-day for nearly two months, but has only played one game in the past several weeks. Cryer was Baylors leading scorer.
Connecticut Guard Jordan Hawkins Suffers a Concussion mid-March
Freshman guard Jordan Hawkins has provided quality scoring punch and range off the bench for the Huskies, but he was unavailable for their last game in a loss against Villanova.
Houston Veteran Fabian White Jr. Was Questionable with a Back Injury
In a season where the Cougars have seen crippling injuries, its mainstay veteran forward Fabrian White Jr. is battling a new one. However, White Jr. played the most minutes for his Cougars team in an AAC Championship game. Because it’s a back injury, it should be monitored, but for now it looks all good.
Illinois Guard Jacob Grandison Nursing a Shoulder Injury
The graduate transfer can get hot from deep, so this is a secret weapon that the Illini might have to get accustomed to playing without.
A beat reporter covering the Illini tweeted this on Monday:
Memphis Forward Jalen Duran Injures Hand in AAC Semifinal
Jalen Duran looked fine in the AAC Championship game after injuring his hand in the semifinal game. There was one fast break in particular where he sprinted and finished with a forceful dunk, showing no outward signs of pain. Head coach Penny Hardaway updated reporters about Duran’s injury after the semis, saying that it was an unknown diagnosis.
Michigan State Point Guard Tyson Walker Dealing with Ankle Injury
Counter to tradition, Michigan State has actually struggled to find consistent play at point guard since Cassius Winston’s graduation. If the Spartans don’t have Walker in the lineup, that is a serious consideration. He is not only a stable orchestrator of the offense, but he showed his ability to score in bunches this season as well.
Detroit Free Press beat writer Chris Solari reported on Monday that head coach Tom Izzo is making contingency plans to play without Walker in the lineup. Here’s what he said about backup (and sometimes starting) point guard, A.J. Hoggard.
Ohio State Buckeyes Monitoring Zed Key’s Ankle Injury
EJ Liddell is one of the nation’s best post players, but he needs help. Key is a key to the Buckeye’s having enough beef down low.
San Franscisco Forward Yauhen Massalski Sidelined with Knee Injury
Yauhen Massalski was unavailable for the Dons semifinal matchup against Gonzaga in the WCC tournament, and it showed how San Francisco was minus some size against the talented Gonzaga front-line.
Bonus #12: Seton Hall Guard Bryce Aiken Largely Unavailable Late This Season
Point guard Bryce Aiken has been out for weeks, so this would be a huge bonus if he re-emerges.
Honorable Mention: Some teams are still recovering from the sting felt after losing a key player late in the season. Baylor and Creighton would certainly qualify as they’ve lost Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and Ryan Nembhard respectively.
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Cinderella can reside in the Power 5. In 2021, Georgetown surged in unlikely fashion after a horrible regular season. The Hoyas went dancing in March Madness as the Big East Tournament winner. The team had only gone 7-9 in the conference regular season and had an overall record of .500 (13-13).
Similarly, Oregon State went from an expected pre-season bottom feeder in the Pac-12, to The Elite 8.
Here are seven teams that could burst a bubble team’s dreams. It shouldn’t shock anyone who is watching college basketball to see these teams in a conference tournament championship game.
Maryland Terps 2021-2022 Basketball Profile – Big Ten Conference
In an era of global turmoil, it’s safe to say that Maryland still had a rocky season. They brought in two highly touted transfers in Fatts Russell and Qudus Wahab. However, the Terps season got off to a slow turtle crawl. They lost to in-state non-rival George Mason. And Head Coach Mark Turgeon and the administration, reportedly, agreed to part ways mid-season.
Danny Manning took over as head coach. As you watch the team play, they are slowly rounding into form. A game against Nebraska in mid-February showed off their ceiling. Yes, it’s a lousy Nebraska team, but you saw freshman forward Julian Reese show off his stuff.
The roster is still beefed up with veteran players who have been in plenty of March Madness battles. Eric Ayala and Donta Scott come to mind. It was Danny Manning and the Miracles which made one of college basketball’s most magical runs ever. If some Big Ten teams get complacent during their conference tournament, it could be the Terps that go on a miraculous run.
Florida Atlantic Owls 2021-2022 Basketball Profile – Conference USA
By NCAA Tournament standards, Conference USA is a major conference. Just in the last decade, look at what Middle Tennessee and North Texas have done to wreak havoc on the bracket. UAB, North Texas and even Louisiana Tech have been on the radar for modest at-large chances this season. However, the Florida Atlantic Owls are staying up late into February with relevant play in its league. In a seven game stretch over January to February, they won 6 of 7 games in conference. That includes the Owls’ dominating win against Louisiana Tech where the Owls shot 52% from the field, 45% from 3 point territory, and led by as many as 20 points.
Like many deep sleepers, this team features some sizable international talent. Its front-court features size and versatility with players from Kosovo, Russia, Senegal and Kongo all contributing.
Arizona State Sun Devils 2021-2022 Basketball Profile – Pac 12 Conference
This one is simple. You cannot watch the Arizona State Sun Devils inspired play against Final 4 favorite UCLA and not be inspired to think they can go on a magical run. After an era of Arizona State pumping guards into the NBA, its powerful forwards forced the action against UCLA late. They beat the Bruins and the Oregon Ducks in February. They also scored a win against Colorado and were very competitive against an AP Top 5 team in Arizona.
Forwards like Jalen Graham are dropping double digits with regularity late in the season.
Bobby Hurley is one of the sports all-time great point guards. Perhaps he can be the floor general as head coach of the Sun Devils and lead them to a conference crown.
Utah State 2021-2022 Basketball Profile – Mountain West Conference
Google the phrase college basketball elder statesman, and Brock Miller’s mug shot might pop up. This team is as aged as the sandy ledge of a mountain boarding the small town of Sandy, Utah. And they can shoot. Sure, big man Neemias Queta moved on to bigger and better things. But there’s still plenty of residue remaining to roll up a run. You could look at their record and say they’re toast. Or, you could look at their record and give props to just how good the Mountain West has been this year. Wyoming, Colorado State, and San Diego State are likely tournament teams regardless of what happens in the Mountain West Tournament. The Aggies are only middle of the pack in terms of college basketball’s best three point shooting team. On February 24th they ranked 159th in the nation with a pedestrian 34% from 3PT. However, that’s not indicative of the shooting stroke you could see from senior leaders Miller and Justin Bean. So why not let loose in Vegas and roll the dice with a bunch of bombs from downtown during Champ Week?
George Mason 2021-2022 Basketball Profile – Atlantic 10
The Atlantic 10 is filled with teams that are capable of “stealing a bid.” In fact, it will likely happen. Davidson has enjoyed a lead atop the league for most of the season. However, they face stiff competition with St. Louis, VCU, Dayton, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, and George Mason, to name a few. George Mason is coached by former Mizzou baller Kim English Jr. They are a bit of a mystery, with a lots of bad losses on their record. However, they have one of the conference’s purest shooters in Colorado transfer D’Shawn Schwartz. 6-9 forward Josh Oduro is having a solid season. He averages 18 points and 7 rebounds on the season. Their wins over St. Bonaventure, Dayton and Richmond should be noted as proof this team could compete for the conference championship.
The parody of the college basketball landscape in 2022 offers no shortage of long-shots with intriguing values. Many people (including myself) consider 7 or 8 teams that could easily win it all this year. However, none of those teams look like Baylor and Gonzaga did last year. It appeared inevitable those teams would face each other in a 2021 Championship game. Instead, those favorites right now are priced in the 4-1 to 6-1 territory. That’s teams like Gonzaga and Arizona. It would be hard to swallow paying a price in the 7-1 to 18-1 territory for any of these teams without the conviction of seeing them surge the way Gonzaga and Baylor had last season.
And so when the Madness of March begins, those 7 or 8 championship contenders could get upset and the list of possible champions would grow. Below are some of my favorite long-shot value picks to find themselves in the mix. If you’re considering any of these bets, please look at both the Final Four odds in addition to a National Championship ticket. The last thing you want is to have two of the four teams make the Final Four, neither win a national championship, and for you to not cash a ticket.
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Editor’s Notes: This article has remained intact as-is for over a month. I will stick with my gut here and roll with the teams that I had hand-picked in mid-February. Subtle edits have been made to the start of the summary for each team below.
Updated: Best Longshot Odds to win March Madness 2022
Here are 5 teams that are the best value bets right now for college basketball futures. You could call them sleeper teams, although their likelihood to make the NCAA Tournament at this point is better than them not.
Best Long-shots to win March Madness 2022 by future values
According to FanDuel Sports App, UAB will enter March Madness as a 400-1 underdog to win a national title. The Blazers earned a 12 seed and will play against Houston in the first round.
Here’s what I had written earlier in the season…
These Blazers were trailblazing their way to a regular season conference championship, until they stubbed their toes at Old Dominion on Super Bowl weekend. Its stock sunk some 50-1 points. Still, they make my top 5.
Coached by former Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy, the Blazers are as dangerous as they come. Conference USA has continued to play the disruptor role in the NCAA Tournament. And with no shortage of size on this UAB roster, the sky could quite literally be the limit.
On January 22nd the Blazers beat current conference rival LA Tech in their house, securing (for now) an inside track to its conference championship. Jordan “Jelly” Walker scored 37 points in that game. As you know, a sub 6’1″ scorer is a hallmark sign of a dangerous Cinderella program.
UAB’s stock did slip in the following days after being upset by Marshall. This puts the Blazers in jeopardy of not winning its conference regular season. Regardless, Conference USA will likely be a one bid league. Therefore, if you invest in UAB you’ll need them to win their conference tournament.
Assuming it wins its conference tournament, UAB would likely get a 12, 13 or 14 seed. That means they could play an LSU, Texas Tech, or other middle-of-the-pack team from a Power 5 school. UAB has a 7 footer at center in Clemson transfer Trey Jemison, so size won’t intimate them. The Blazers can score the ball, ranking just within the top 50 on Kenpom’s score for efficiency. If you like UAB at 250-1 to win a national title, you’re going to love them at 65-1 to make the Final 4.
After its dramatic game-winning buzzer beater win by Jelly Walker at Western Kentucky, UAB stood as the 41st ranked KenPom team on January 28th. Meantime, they were 37th in the NET rankings. Therefore, a legitimate case can be made for UAB as an at-large bid, even if they don’t win their conference tournament.
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4. SAN FRANCISCO DONS BASKETBALL FUTURES 250-1
San Francisco drew a 10 seed and will play against a dangerous 7 seed in Murray State. Both of these programs are actually very dangerous in this position. Murray State is an even better value from a high-ceiling perspective. They enter the tournament at 500-1 to win a title according to FanDuel.
Here’s what I had written earlier this season…
There is a clear turning point in San Francisco’s season that has it skipping the line and getting into the middle of the mix as a great long-shot. After taking a large lead in pivotal games in January against Gonzaga and St. Mary’s, San Fran squandered those opportunities to punch their tickets. However, when February came, they blitzed BYU at their house. The Dons came out of halftime and continued pressuring the (weakened) post of BYU. They got out in transition and guarded well in transition. They took the life out of the crowd. It was the opposite of what those games in January looked like, and it could be a turning point for San Francisco to be considered one of America’s most dangerous underdogs.
San Francisco is lead by super senior point guard Jamaree Bouyee. He is one of the top 6-1 and under guards poised to upset some people in March Madness. They also have size down low, which is always a challenge for mid-major teams. San Francisco was available on the DraftKings app at 60-1 to make March Madness on February 3 and it’s unlikely that value will remain for long.
San Francisco stood at 200-1 to win a National Championship (and 80-1 to make the Final Four) on DraftKings on Valentine’s Day. Betters will love them even more if they can win a late February home game against Gonzaga before the tournament begins. They missed an opportunity to beat Gonzaga late in February, but the St. Mary’s Gaels did it on that same California road trip for the Bulldogs. The WCC has the pedigree to pull some upsets in this tournament.
Davidson draws a 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament and plays against Tom Izzo’s Michigan State team. That’s bad news for Wildcats fans. However, Michigan State is beatable and so is Duke in the (possible) following round. I am rolling with Davidson at 400-1 here.
Here’s what I had written earlier in the season…
At the end of January, Davidson finally cracked into the AP Top 25 and officially became the most dangerous underdog in America. After the Wildcats went undefeated in its first six conference games with wins at St. Bonaventure and at VCU, they were honestly long overdue for this position. Throw in the fact that they beat Alabama and its Elite 8 pedigree.
The problem with Davidson going into the conference tournament “Champ Week” is that it faces about 5 other teams from the Atlantic 10 that could easily steal a bid. Richmond, VCU, Dayton, St. Louis and St. Bonaventure are all worthy opponents. Most of those teams are borderline tournament teams. Davidson finished February as a projected 11 seed in the tournament. That doesn’t leave much margin for error for Davidson to lose its conference tournament. If that happens, we could be looking at two A10 tournament teams, or a damn good Davidson team in the NIT.
A tempting bet in this direction is to take the Atlantic 10 at around 65-1 to have its team with the NCAA Basketball Tournament. That’s a great value if two teams make the tournament. It’s a lousy bet if only one does.
Michigan State transfer Foster Loyer gets the headlines as people talk about this team, but it’s really an extremely balanced squad. Loyer leads the team in assists. Four players average 12 or more points. Power forward Luka Brajkovic offers great hands and skill down low. The senior from Austria averages 7 rebounds per game. Junior guard Michael Jones showed everyone during a nationally televised game against Richmond that he can light it up. Jones was un-guardable that night as he scored 29 on 8 of 9 from the 3 point line. The Wildcats leading scorer is actually South Korean guard Hyunjung Lee. Lee averages 16 points per game with 6.7 rebounds with it. The stability of this upperclassman roster is anchored by a longtime winner, head coach Bob McKillop.
In his last bracket projection of January, Joe Lunardi had Davidson has a 9 seed. This is the type of mis-seeding that often happens to a mid-major team. This Davidson program probably had no business being a 10 seed with Stephen Curry before it made its magical Elite 8 run.
And while you can debate what Davidson’s seed would be, it’s not debatable anymore that it’s a tournament team. Therefore, even if you snag Davidson at 150-1 you could hedge it by taking the eventual round one matchup (today projected as BYU as a 125-1 underdog) and have some high ceiling options headed into the field of 32.
USC’s value doubled as the bracket got announced, which means the payout is twice as great. I am doubling down on this team as they play a smaller Miami Hurricanes squad to start their March Madness journey.
Here’s what I wrote earlier this year about the Trojans…
USC defeated Oregon in their place on February 26th to bounce the Ducks from this list and insert themselves onto it.
I will admit to overlooking USC after one of its Mobley brothers (Evan) went to the NBA this season. While Evan Mobley is the likely NBA Rookie of the Year with the Cavaliers, big brother is one of the nation’s best veteran players. The 6-10 big man features great hands, range, rebounding, and the ability to orchestrate the offense from the post. Boogie Ellis is the actual orchestrator at point guard. He transferred from Memphis. Ellis is a streaky shooter who can definitely get hot. Shooting guard Drew Peterson is playing some really confident ball right now. He hit a dagger three to win that Oregon game and also went buck-wild against UCLA in a game that Mobley missed in early February.
USC has a front line of muscular forwards who can outwork people on the offensive glass if defenses aren’t aware. Head coach Andy Enfield has already taken the college basketball world by surprise in his career (see Dunk City). This USC team was in the Elite 8 last year. Many players on the current roster played key roles in a Sweet 16 win against Oregon.
A bet worth looking at is the Pac-12 around 5-1 to have a national champion. Obviously, you’d get a favorite in Arizona, a preseason favorite in UCLA, and throw in a high-upside USC team at that rate. If a surprise team like Arizona State (see our list of possible Cinderellas for Champ Week), Colorado or Stanford win the Pac-12 tournament, you could have 4 or 5 teams for that one cost. Oregon is the unknown as a bubble team.
March Madness is all about unlikely outcomes. What is more unlikely than your coach getting fired for multiple violations stemming from an FBI investigation… and you still advance to the Final Four.
I actually love LSU as they draw Iowa State to start their March Madness journey. They would have to become the first 6 seed in 30 years to make a Final Four, however, if they have a magical run on their mind. Below is what I had written about the Tigers earlier this season…
On February 15, LSU stood at 16th overall in the NCAA Net Rankings, but still had a long-shot odd to win a national title. The Tigers were then 15-1 to reach the Final Four and 80-1 to win a national title. Those numbers don’t reflect how this team is getting healthy at the right time. Coming out of the SEC, which has two legitimate title favorites (unlike any other conference), the Tigers will be eager to devour any other competition aside from their in-conference opponents. Point guard Xavier Pinson has brought a lightning quick dimension to the offense. And this team gets after it on the defensive end unlike most teams. They are consistently top 5 in forced turnovers, defensive efficiency, and outright steals. LSU won’t come back from large deficits with three point prayers, but they might outwork their opponent on the offensive glass to get back into a game. They are mostly young and hungry, with a few key veterans like senior Darius Days. LSU has been flirting with the Elite 8 and Sweet 16 for the past few years, and shouldn’t be overlooked as players like Days and Pinson have returned from injury and are finding a rhythm. LSU plays a marquee matchup against Kentucky in late February. This can serve as a stress test to measure how legit they are. For now, the eye test says they are much better than 80-1 to win it all.
HOST CITIES FOR THE FIRST ROUND OF MARCH MADNESS 2021-2022