Last year a complete underdog won the National Title when UConn rallied behind Kemba Walker and rolled straight through to victory. This year, the tournament was so stacked with NBA bound talent that things looked like they’d play out as expected. Too bad the Basketball Gods had other plans.
A rampage of upsets in round one led to a leveling out of sorts in round two, but that doesn’t mean that the college basketball futures don’t have some worthwhile longshot value. And that’s what we’re talking about here – outside of the consensus pick to win it all this year, what’s worth a $100 flier in the sportsbook to go home champion this year?
It almost goes without saying that Kentucky’s +175 odds to win March Madness are a no brainer. They’re the most talented, well balanced and dominant team in the country and they have a coach who can maximize that talent. But if any of you watched them lose to Vanderbilt in the SEC Finals, you know that nothing is guaranteed with these guys. They might be thinking of their NBA futures a bit too much.
With the Wildcats being so dominant on the board, almost every other team is worth a flier. UNC (+550) and Ohio State (+500) are very logical flier bets because they have go-to guys in Barnes and Sullinger, but UNC’s odds took a big hit with point-guard Kendall Marshall’s broken wrist. All in all, I love Ohio State as a basketball team but they let too many opponents stay alive by slowing the tempo down on offense. I’m out on both teams as far as flier worth goes.
I’m just going to go ahead and say that Tim Izzo at Michigan State’s +600 odds are pretty favorable too, but I just don’t see it from them. Same goes for Kansas at +700. It’s not that either team has bad odds, they’re just not worthy of throwing $100 at. In terms of the futures, I’m not a huge pusher of any of the number one seeds.
So what are some good long shot bets? Here’s hoping that pickle sticks to the window.
Indiana Hoosiers - +2800 to win March Madness
Yeah, it’s a crazy bet but who cares? Not a lot of people knew who Cody Zeller was. You won’t find him that high on draft boards, but the former Mr. Indiana Basketball recipient and younger brother of Tyler Zeller at UNC, can ball hard. He may be young but he’s filled out his frame nicely and there’s a certain polish to his game. Unfortunately they have to get through Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen, but after a strong showing against New Mexico and VCU…wait a second.
You’re right, Indiana’s long odds are completely fair, but if they get past Kentucky this weekend they’ll have momentum like nobody else in the tournament. It’s a long shot to win, but the payout is ridiculous.
Wisconsin Badgers - +2000 to win March Madness
Great guard play. Period dot. They might have an easy path to the Finals considering what’s happened to Syracuse. Surviving a matchup against Ohio State is a tall order, but they have a pretty strong defensive presence in the middle in Jared Berggren (at the college level anyways), and Jordan Taylor is a senior guar who is leading the team with 14.7 points and 4.0 assists. They don’t have the “big name” that most of the other teams have in the tournament, but if we’ve learned anything from March Madness this year, it’s that star power means jack squat.
Baylor Bears - +1400 to win March Madness
If you want a star player and great guard play look no further. Baylor’s Perry Jones is a lottery bound draft pick at he’s been absolutely quiet all tournament with just 9 total points. That’s because his two guards, namely Brady Heslip, have emerged as deadly snipers from range. When called upon I have faith that Jones will step up and deliver, but standing in his team’s way is Xavier and whomever wins the Kentucky/Indiana game.
North Carolina State Wolfpack - +5000 to win March Madness
No longshot flier pick article would be complete without the NC State Wolfpack. They play Kansas this weekend, and they had a very convincing win over Georgetown to prove they’re no slouch. Sure, the Hoyas weren’t on anybody’s watch list, but NC State can get past Kansas this weekend. It’s not a sure thing (obviously) but after they get UNC (with a hobbled or incapacitated Marshall) or 13th seeded Ohio. Those aren’t impossible odds for them to face because UNC has been horrifically inconsistent without a healthy and productive Marshall.
These are all longshots to win because it’s pretty much an open and shut case that Kentucky is going to win considering that Syracuse lost Fab Melo, UNC lost Marshall and nobody takes Michigan State that seriously. We convince ourselves to stop expecting the unexpected, and every year March Madness proves us we are wrong.
Why not take a flier out on Baylor, Wisconsin, NC State or Indiana? The Giants won the Super Bowl. The Cardinals won the World Series. The Mavericks won the NBA Championship. Crazier things have happened…especially in March Madness betting.