As the calendar is about the flip from February to March, the sports world will be focusing on the March Madness bracket.
This is our second attempt to break down the top 16 seeds – based on how they have fared against the spread (ATS) since this is a gambling site.
A team has to be in contention for a spot in the March Madness bracket to make the cut. One example is Cincinnati, which is 19-10 against the spread. However, the Bearcats are 79th in the NCAA NET rankings so they aren’t included.
Conferences likely to have one team in the March Madness brackets also won’t be showing up among the top 16 seeds in this unique version of Bracketology.
Cal State Fullerton, Utah Valley, Stetson and Mississippi Valley State have had strong seasons when it comes to covering against the Las Vegas odds. However, they won’t be found among the top 16 seeds.
Four of the top seven teams in the current Associated Press Top 25 poll would be among the top 16 seeds. However, some powerhouse programs would be left out thanks to less-than-stellar records against the sportsbook.
When is comes to the current March Madness picks, Houston (+600) is the current favorite to win the national title followed by Alabama (+1000), Purdue (+1000), Kansas (+1200), Tennessee (+1200), Arizona (+1400) and UCLA (+1400).
Pitt Panthers Leading the Way
It would be quite an understatement to suggest that Pittsburgh is the surprise leader in the Atlantic Coast Conference entering the final week of the regular season. Pitt was picked to finish 14th out of 15 teams in the preseason ACC poll.
Barring an upset against a struggling Notre Dame team on Wednesday, the Panthers’ quest to become the top seed in the ACC tournament will come down to Saturday’s matchup with Miami.
When it comes to the Against The Spread Bracketology, there is no such drama.
Pitt leads the nation with a 20-8-1 record against the spread and would be the No. 1 overall seed if the teams were slotted by how they performed against the college basketball betting lines.
Flexing Their Muscles
What a season it has been for the Big East and that will come into the play when finalizing the March Madness expert picks.
According to the Sagarin rankings, the Big East trails only the Big 12 and Big Ten in the conference power ratings.
However, that number is hurt by Butler, DePaul and Georgetown ranking between 101-157 in the ratings.
It would be a different story if breaking down the teams by how they covered against the spread, it would be hard to top the Big East with Providence, Marquette and UConn earning No. 2 seeds and Xavier being a No. 3 seed.
While Houston and Alabama, who are the top two teams in the national polls, are among the top 16 seeds in the ATS Bracketology, No. 3 Kansas doesn’t make the cut since the Jayhawks have covered in just 14 of 29 games. That is still better than conference rival Texas (12-17 ATS). Obviously, it will be a different story when making March Madness predictions.
Purdue has been fading a bit recently and that will impact the Boilermakers’ March Madness seed. Purdue is just 12-15-2 against the spread. Arizona (13-15-1) and Gonzaga (11-17-1) are other top-10 teams that have struggled against the spread and that is something for those who bet online to consider when the NCAA Tournament starts.
Bracket 1: ACC Reunion?
Pittsburgh could see a familiar team with Miami coming in as the No. 3 seed in the bracket. The teams will be playing in the regular-season finale and could cross paths again in the ACC tournament. Pittsburgh just entered the top 25 in the national polls.
Moving into the Top 25.
— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_MBB) February 27, 2023
Surprising Northwestern and 2021 national champion Baylor would also be part of a challenging bracket.
Baylor has had a bumpy ride this season with a 5-5 record against teams in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll at the time of the game. The other three teams are 9-3 against ranked teams.
The ACC fans should like this ATS bracket much more than the one that will be released on March 12 as the March Madness odds won’t feature front-runners out of the ACC. Duke is the only ACC team in the top 25 in the NET rankings, coming in at No. 24, so there might not be any ACC representation among the top 16 seeds in the March Madness bracket.
Bracket 2: Owls Looking to Soar
Florida Atlantic is among the polarizing teams when it comes to the potential March Madness seed.
The Owls are second only to Pittsburgh in this bracket with an 18-8-1 record against the spread. FAU won’t be anywhere near a No. 1 seed in the NCAAB Tournament even if the Owls roll to the Conference USA tournament title.
It would be quite the challenging road for the Owls with Saint Mary’s and UCLA both spending time in the top 10 in the national polls and both showing up in the odds to win the NCAA tournament. The No. 2 seed would be Providence.
Florida Atlantic didn’t face a ranked team during the regular season and that would certainly change in this bracket.
Bracket 3: Houston Lurking as No. 3 Seed
Houston is No. 1 in the national polls with the Cougars currently on a nine-game winning streak. Despite playing just two games against ranked teams, the Cougars could earn the No. 1 overall seed in the March Madness bracket.
When looking at the ATS numbers, Houston has covered in 17 of the 29 games and that would make the Cougars a No. 3 seed even if Houston leads the way in the odds for March Madness.
Kansas State, 7-4 against ranked teams, Big East leader Marquette and Illinois, which is tied for the Big Ten lead with five wins against ranked teams, are in a stacked bracket.
— Houston Men’s Hoops 🏀 🐾 (@UHCougarMBK) February 28, 2023
Bracket 4: Conference rivals to collide
Going by the numbers, the top four seeds would include Texas A&M and Alabama out of the SEC as well as Xavier and UConn out of the Big East.
The reality is some movement would be made to avoid matchups between teams from the same conference. The easiest solution would be to flip Xavier and Alabama. By making the Crimson Tide a No. 3 seed and putting Xavier as a fourth seed, there wouldn’t be SEC or Big East matchups until the regional final.
Texas A&M gets overshadowed by conference rivals in the SEC. The Aggies are 27th in the NCAAB NET rankings and that ranks fifth among SEC teams. The Aggies are second behind Alabama in the SEC standings and have covered in 19 of 29 games.