The start of the month of March can mean only one thing: let the madness begin. Looking at some recently updated betting odds to win this season’s men’s NCAA Tournament, Doc’s Sports has found some serious value in a few of the teams that should figure prominently in this year’s Big Dance.
Wichita State Shockers +6300
The Shockers could be gearing up for another long run come tournament time with just one loss in their last 18 games. They closed out play in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 74-60 victory against Northern Iowa this past Saturday to avenge their only loss in the MVC this season. Wichita State features a trio of players scoring in double figures, led by junior guard Ron Baker, who is averaging 15.2 points per game. The team is scoring an average of 70.4 points a game to complement a defense that is holding opponents to just 55.9 points at the other end of the court.
Utah Utes +2000
The Utes blew a golden opportunity to keep the pressure on Arizona for this season’s Pac-12 regular-season title in Saturday’s 63-57 loss to the Wildcats, but this is still a team that nobody should ignore come tournament time. Utah is 21-5 on the year with a solid 12-4 record in conference play. It should be able to quickly bounce back from a pair of tough losses in its last three games behind an offense that is averaging 72.4 PPG while shooting a rock-solid 48.8 percent from the field. Defensively, the Utes are ranked eighth in the nation in points allowed (55.8), which can go a long way towards winning games later this month.
Villanova Wildcats +1700
Villanova wrapped up the Big East regular-season title already on the strength of a 10-game winning streak heading into Tuesday’s matchup against Creighton. The Wildcats are now 27-2 on the year and in solid position to claim a No. 2 or possibly even a No. 1 seed for this year’s NCAA Tournament if they continue winning games and get a few breaks along the way. Villanova is another team that has shown some solid balance on both ends of the court with an offense that is averaging 75.7 PPG while shooting 46.6 percent from the field and a defense that is holding teams to 61 points a game. The Wildcats have six different players averaging at least nine points a game, and they are ranked 15th in the nation in assists (15.8).
Virginia Cavaliers +1000
Virginia remains the No. 2-ranked team in the nation in the AP’s Top 25 with an overall record of 27-1 while going 15-1 in the ACC, but it still appears to be overshadowed in that conference by the Duke Blue Devils. A big reason why many experts are discounting the Cavaliers’ chances to win it all this season is the loss of junior guard Justin Anderson, who remains out of the lineup for the foreseeable future with a fractured finger. He was the team’s second-leading scorer with 13.4 PPG, but Virginia’s success this season has been built around a shut-down defense that is ranked first in the nation in points allowed (50.1). The Cavaliers have actually lowered this average to 47.9 points over the course of their last seven games.
Wisconsin Badgers +625
The Badgers have already claimed at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title with a record of 14-2 heading into their final two conference games, and overall they are 26-3 on the year. Sometimes all you need is one dominant player that can get hot at the right time to lead a team to a national title, and Wisconsin may have just the man in senior forward Frank Kaminsky. He has been a force all season long with 18.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists a game, and, aided by a strong supporting cast, the Badgers are averaging 71.5 PPG while shooting an effective 47.8 percent from the field. In a reoccurring theme with most of the teams on this list, Wisconsin does its best work on the other end of the court behind a defense that is allowing an average of just 55.8 points a game.
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