The Gonzaga Bulldogs are favored to win the NCAA Tournament in men’s basketball despite years of coming up short as favorites.
The Zags are the +850 favorites in NCAAB betting markets, but hot on their heels is Houston, North Carolina and defending champion Kansas.
It’s always an open contest and the nature of the March Madness tournament opens the competition for an upset result.
Houston Cougars Building
We like the Houston Cougars to continue their building process by winning the national championship.
They were strong during the regular season in the American Athletic Conference before eventually losing to the Villanova Wildcats in the Elite Eight.
The 50-44 loss was a tough defensive performance and it showed how good the Cougars could be with more postseason experience under their belt. They defeated the likes of Illinois and Arizona to reach the Elite Eight and we think they can improve on that position.
The Cougars made a deeper run in the 2021 NCAA Tournament before losing in the Final Four.
Having experienced guards in Marcus Sasser and Jamal Snead helps sophomore Roman Walker Jr., so the team is deep in the guard position. They also have a stack of talent at forward, so we see no reason why the Cougars can’t make another deep run.
The sportsbook has them at +1000, so it’s a fair price and those odds could shorten significantly throughout the season.
PICK: Houston Cougars +1000
Big Guns Back for Tar Heels
The North Carolina Tar Heels lost in the NCAA national title game to Kansas, but they have every chance to go one better.
College basketball odds hinged on the return of Armando Bacot and Caleb Love. Much to the delight of Tar Heels’ fans and bettors alike, they’re both back and are key parts to their success.
They lost Brady Manek but picked up former Northwestern forward Pete Dance, who is one of the better shooting big men in the country.
Bacot is already one of the favorites to win ACC MVP honors, so they have a dynamic player and the +1000 odds for Carolina to win the title reflect as much.
Coach Hubert Davis doesn’t want the outside noise of the Tar Heels being title contenders to distract his team.
“That’s noise,” Davis told The News Observer. “And (I told them) to focus on what is real and that’s our preparation, our practice and how we can get better this summer to possibly put us in a position where we were last year and see what happens. I’m not taking it easy on them. I’m coming harder.”
We’re locking in the +1000 as another legitimate title contender along with Houston.
PICK: North Carolina +1000
Backing the Alabama Crimson Tide’s football team is often a better bet, but there is value with the basketball team.
The Tide have shown glimpses of being a quality team but haven’t had the class to progress further. However, with more experience under their belt, it could be their year.
The Crimson Tide made the Sweet 16 in 2021 before losing to UCLA in overtime. It was a tough loss to handle and they lost to another No. 11 seed in 2022, falling to Notre Dame 78-64.
It was a poor loss for a talented and athletic team, which just needs some guidance. With coach Nate Oats getting another year with Alabama, he could transform it into a title contender.
The raw talent is there and the +4000 odds are generous. Lock in the price as it should only firm throughout the year.
PICK: Alabama Crimson Tide +4000