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March Madness Analysis: Defending Champ UConn Team to Beat

All the speculation is over and the field has been announced for the 2024 NCAA men’s basketball Division I tournament, with UConn not only the defending championships but also listed by the NCAA basketball odds to win it all once again.

Things get going with the First Four games on Tuesday and Wednesday. Those teams look to take a page from the script used by No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson after winning a First Four game in 2023.

March Madness Analysis: Defending Champ UConn Team to Beat
March Madness Analysis: Defending Champ UConn Team to Beat

When looking at our odds of winning March Madness, UConn (+400), Houston (+600) and Purdue (+700) lead the way in the odds to win the national title.

Let’s take an early look at who is in and who was left out of the March Madness bracket.


Big 12, SEC Lead the Way

The Big 12 and the SEC each had eight teams make it into the NCAA Tournament.

Big 12 tournament champion Iowa State earned a No. 2 seed in the East Region. However, there could be easier draws than potentially facing defending national champion UConn in Boston.

Auburn, the SEC tournament champion, is also in the East Region with the chance to meet up with San Diego State, UAB, or Yale before getting a chance at UConn.

Despite being blown out by Iowa State in the Big 12 title game, Houston still earned a No. 1 seed, with Marquette, Kentucky, Duke, and Wisconsin the other top seeds along with the Cougars in the South Region.

Houston plays a subregional in Memphis, a place the Cougars know well during their days in the American Athletic Conference.

Kansas is a No. 4 seed and Texas is seeded seventh in the Midwest with SEC teams Tennessee and South Carolina also in that bracket.


Big East Crying Foul

The Big East is on the short list of the best conferences in the country but six conferences had more teams invited to the Big Dance than the Big East.

UConn is the No. 1 overall seed and gets to play in New York and Boston to reach the Final Four. Marquette is the No. 2 seed in the South. If star point guard Tyler Kolek is cleared to play, the Golden Eagles could be a tough matchup for Houston or the other teams in that region.

Creighton is a No. 3 seed in the Midwest. If the Bluejays reach the regional final against Purdue, seeing Creighton’s 7-foot-1 Ryan Kalkbrenner going up against Purdue’s 7-foot-4 Zach Edey could be worth the price of admission.

Seton Hall, St. John’s, Providence, and Villanova are the Big East teams that were hoping to receive at-large bids.


Better Luck Next Year

With bid stealers in the conference tournaments making life difficult for the NCAA selection committee, there were some worthy teams left out of the field of 68.

Indiana State had the best NCAA NET ranking of No. 28 for a team to be left out of the field. No. 32 St. John’s not only didn’t make it into the tournament, but the Red Storm were not among the last four teams out.

That list included Oklahoma, Seton Hall and Pittsburgh.

The last four teams are Boise State, Colorado, Virginia and Colorado State.

Virginia’s inclusion is the one that generated the most resistance.

The Cavaliers were 3-4 over the last seven games with a 25-point loss to Duke and a 34-point loss to Virginia Tech.


A Quick Look Back

If the top 16 seeds were decided by the odds of winning March Madness when the season began, the field would look much different.

Kansas, Duke, Purdue and either Kentucky or Michigan State would have been No. 1 seeds with the other No. 2 seeds (along with either Kentucky or Michigan State) being UConn, Marquette and Arizona.

Arkansas at +2500, UCLA at +3000 and USC at +3000 are the teams with the best odds when the season began not to make the March Madness field.

Among the top 16 seeds, Iowa State (+8000) had the longest odds to win the national title.


Let the Madness Begin

The tournament is getting rolling with the First Four games.

Howard is favored by the college basketball spread by three points against Wagner and Colorado State is a two-point favorite against Virginia in Tuesday’s games.

On Wednesday, Montana State is a four-point favorite versus Grambling with Boise State a 2½-point underdog against Colorado.


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Questions Of The Day

Which team had the best odds to win the men’s Division I national title when the season began?

Kansas was priced at +1000 followed by Duke at +1100 in the odds of winning March Madness before the first game was played during the 2023-24 men’s college basketball season.

Which college basketball team in the March Madness bracket has the best record in the nation against the spread?

South Carolina is 23-10 against the spread and Iowa State is 23-10-1 ATS. San Diego State is among the teams perfect against Las Vegas odds when facing ranked opponents.


The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.

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