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March Madness Betting: Players to Watch

The 2024 March Madness bracket has been announced and now it is a question of which players will emerge as the darlings of those watching the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA basketball odds are favoring defending champion UConn to become a rare back-to-back champion as three of the five double-digit scorers were members of last year’s title-winning team.

March Madness Betting: Players to Watch
Caleb Love #2 of the Arizona Wildcats | David Becker/Getty Images/AFP

Colorado’s Cody Williams is the current NCAA star expected to be the first player in the tournament field to be selected in the NBA Draft. UConn’s Stephon Castle, Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht, Baylor’s Ja’Kobe Walter and the Kentucky duo of Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham are among the other players who could land in the top 10 if they declare for this year’s draft.

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. Houston, UConn and Purdue are the top three teams in the NCAA NET rankings.

Here are some of the top players to watch heading into the NCAA Tournament.

1. Armando Bacot and R.J. Davis, North Carolina

It is hard to think of one of these North Carolina stars without the other one.

Armando Bacot and R.J. Davis both have more than 2,000 career points with Davis being a four-year starter and Bacot starting for all five of his seasons in Chapel Hill.


When North Carolina made a run to the 2022 national championship game, Bacot and Davis combined to average 30 points per game and they will look to lead the Tar Heels on another March Madness run.

2. Zach Edey, Purdue

The player listed by the college basketball odds as the favorite to be named the National Player of the Year has already decided that this is his swan song season for the Boilermakers.

Purdue remained a No. 1 seed despite losing in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament so there is some extra motivation for a team that was stunned in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

The 7-foot-4 Edey attempted at least 10 foul shots in eight of his last 10 games. Will he get that much of a friendly whistle in the March Madness tournament?

3. Hunter Dickinson, Kansas

Dickinson was listed by the 247sports.com database as the top transfer in the country. His numbers (18 points, 10.8 rebounds, 55% shooting) look pretty good. However, Kansas went from being the team to beat coming into the season to finishing tied for fifth in the Big 12 during the regular season.


With Dickinson and Kevin McCullar sitting out, the Jayhawks fell to Cincinnati in their first Big 12 tournament game. Dickinson was among the national player of the year front-runners according to the NCAAB odds when the season began.

4. Dalton Knecht, Tennessee

It has been quite the debut season in the SEC for Knecht after spending his first two seasons at Northern Colorado.

Knecht has averaged 22.9 points against ranked teams this season so keep an eye on the sweet-shooting Tennessee star in the tournament. He could be a popular pick in the NCAAB picks and parlays.

5. Tyler Kolek, Marquette

There was some chatter that the star point guard would make his return to the court in the Big East tournament title game against UConn. That didn’t happen but it is looking good for Kolek to be back for the NCAA Tournament. That will make Marquette a team to be reckoned with in the tournament if the national leader in assists per game is cleared to play.

6. Caleb Love, Arizona

Love averaged 18.8 points in the six March Madness games in 2022 to help North Carolina reach the national title game. Is he ready to repeat that feat for Arizona as the Wildcats look to shake off an early exit from the Pac-12 tournament?

7. Tristen Newton, UConn

The point guard on the defending national champion UConn Huskies averaged 17 points, six rebounds and eight assists to earn Most Outstanding Player honors, leading the Huskies to the Big East tournament title for the first time since 2011.

8. Terrance Shannon Jr., Illinois

The fan reaction will not be kind after Shannon was charged with rape. The leading scorer for the Fighting Illini was suspended after being charged before being reinstated.

He is an elite player but there is a cloud hanging over Shannon going into the tournament after winning the Big Ten tournament.

9. Jamal Shead, Houston

Shead missed 14 of his 17 shots as Houston fell to Iowa State in the Big 12 title game so he has some unfinished business. Shead had at least 10 assists on five occasions during the season after handing out 10 assists in the Big 12 semifinals against Texas Tech.

 

 

Questions of the Day

When does the March Madness bracket begin?


Howard is a 3½-point favorite against Wagner and Colorado State is favored by 1½ points against Virginia in Tuesday’s First Four games.

Who are the players with the top scorers among the March Madness field?


Purdue’s Zach Edey leads all the men’s Division I players with an average of 24.4 points per game and his Big Ten rival Terrance Shannon Jr. puts up 23 points per game.

 

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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