Top March Madness Title Contenders
Okay, so the Super Bowl is the biggest game on the sports betting calendar. But it’s not the biggest event of the year.
That would be the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, or March Madness for short. Roughly $9 billion gets wagered on March Madness every year in the United States alone. That’s over twice the estimated handle for the Super Bowl.
How do they do it? Volume, volume, volume. It takes 67 games to crown a national champion – that’s 67 opportunities to get your money in good with some sharp picks, not to mention all those bracket contests and office pools on the side. By far the most popular online choice for Americans who want to bet on March Madness is Bovada; if you’re not already familiar with them, check out the comprehensive Bovada Review. Meanwhile, here’s how the top favorites on Bovada’s championship futures market stack up at press time.
1. Kentucky Wildcats (+550)
The Wildcats (17-4 SU, 12-9 ATS) are a very good team, but are they really the best team in college hoops? Not right now – they’re No. 8 on the AP poll, and No. 3 according to Ken Pomeroy’s advanced stats. People love betting on Kentucky, though, so if you want to bet on the Wildcats to win the title, you’ll have to pay a premium.
2. Gonzaga Bulldogs (+750)
Here’s the No. 1 team in the nation as far as the sports writers and the stats are concerned. The ‘Zags (22-0 SU, 15-4 ATS) have been marching to the bank all year long, but they play in relative anonymity in the West Coast Conference, and their reputation as a March Madness “Cinderella” team makes it hard for people to take them seriously.
3. Kansas Jayhawks (+800)
Back among the so-called elite programs, we have the Jayhawks (19-2 SU, 7-12 ATS), who have had some trouble beating the college hoops odds this year. They’re like a mirror image of Kentucky: No. 3 on the AP poll and No. 8 on the Pomeroy efficiency charts. It’s even in their names: UK vs. KU. Coincidence? I think not.
4. UCLA Bruins (+900)
Why are the Bruins (19-3 SU, 12-10 ATS) even on this list? It boils down to volume again. More people have been betting on UCLA this year than any other team in Division I. The Bruins have arguably the best offense in the nation, led by freshman guard Lonzo Ball – who just might go first overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. However, the Bruins are No. 11 in the rankings and No. 17 in efficiency. They’re not even the best team in the Pac-12.
5. North Carolina Tar Heels (+900)
The team of Michael Jordan, Vince Carter and Bob McAdoo remains one of the most popular brands in college basketball. They barely lost to Villanova in last year’s National Championship Game, so a lot of people bet on the Tar Heels to win this year. They’re on top of the ACC at 19-4 SU and 12-9-1 ATS, but they’re only No. 12 on the AP poll, and No. 9 on the Pomeroy charts. Hey, at least they’re doing better than Duke.
Honorable mentions: Villanova, Arizona, Duke (+1000)