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March Madness Preview: Saint Mary’s, USF Top Sleepers

It’s beginning to look a lot like March Madness in the NCAA basketball lines. With conference tournaments around the corner, let’s take a look at a few mid-major sleepers to watch as March Madness betting nears.

No mid-major school is ranked inside the top 15, with No. 17 Saint Mary’s as the highest ranked team in this category. Outside of a four-point scare against San Francisco, the Gaels have cruised to victory in the majority of their February matchups.

March Madness Preview: Saint Mary’s, USF Top Sleepers
The St. Mary's Gaels walk off the court | Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

A few impressive stats about Saint Mary’s, starting with the Gaels are riding the longest active winning streak in the nation with 15 straight victories and counting. You have to look back to before Christmas to find Saint Mary’s taking an L.

Included in this streak was a two-point victory over Gonzaga, which has been the measuring stick for years in the West Coast Conference. The Zags will be out for revenge on Saturday as the two teams close out the regular season.

As we look toward March Madness betting, the Gaels have held their own at the window. Saint Mary’s is 15-12 against the spread. The over has hit in 15 games with the under cashing 13 times.

ESPN Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology projections has Saint Mary’s as a No. 6 seed, making the Gaels a legitimate threat to make a Sweet 16 run in a few weeks.

Dayton Continues to Drop in the Rankings

On the other end of the sleeper spectrum, No. 21 Dayton stumbled against George Mason, prompting the Flyers to aptly fly down the AP Poll. Dayton was able to bounce back with a dominant win over Davidson but still dropped five spots in the rankings.

The ESPN projections also have Dayton as a No. 6 seed if the NCAA Tournament started today. The Flyers have challenging upcoming matchups against Loyola and VCU, which are both inside the top four in the Atlantic 10 standings.

Dayton has been solid in the college basketball odds, going 15-12 ATS this season. The over has hit in 15 games with the under cashing 11 times.

Gonzaga Firmly on the Bubble

After looking like No. 23 Gonzaga could miss its first NCAA Tournament in more than two decades, the Zags are making a late run. The Bulldogs are back in the rankings after a long hiatus this season.

The Zags have won six straight, including an upset victory at Kentucky. Lunardi’s projections have Gonzaga among the last teams in the NCAA Tournament.

Gonzaga could feel similar to the early Mark Few years when the Zags were a double-digit seed. The Bulldogs are currently projected as a No. 11 seed and would play in one of the First Four matchups to make it into the field of 64 teams.

There is still time for the Zags to gain ground in the bracket. Gonzaga closes the regular season against Saint Mary’s and has the WCC tournament as well.

USF is Red Hot Heading Into March Madness

The American Athletic Conference has been a bit out of the national spotlight after Memphis’ tailspin in recent months. No. 24 South Florida could be the conference’s best hope to make an NCAA Tournament run.

USF is new to the rankings but absolutely deserves this distinction. The Bulls have 13 straight wins with notable victories against Memphis and Florida Atlantic.

The win over FAU is partly why last year’s March Madness darlings are no longer in the AP Poll. We could see a battle of two potential Cinderellas in the first round.

ESPN projects USF to be a No. 11 seed facing No. 6 Saint Mary’s to begin the tournament.



Questions of the Day

Who is a sleeper team to watch for March Madness?

Saint Mary’s has been one of the top mid-major teams in college basketball this season.

Who are some of the hottest teams in college basketball heading into the NCAA Tournament?

Saint Mary’s and South Florida are both riding double-digit win streaks.


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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