Final Four Review
Virginia, despite being a #1 seed, had relatively generous futures odds of +700 at BetDSI to win the NCAA Tournament before the madness began.
Ultimately, the defense-oriented Cavaliers wound up being the only #1 seed to make the Final Four, and they now appear to have a great chance of winning it all, rewarding their backers who anticipated a strong showing.
Advanced analytics gave Virginia a lot of respect to start the tournament, with some outlets ranking them higher than Duke, but the betting markets so far have overvalued the Cavaliers on their point spreads in the tournament, as they’ve gone just 2-2 ATS in their four games so far, including their last game where they were favored over Purdue and needed OT to get the win and close cover.
That is in stark contrast to their terrific regular season ATS results, where they were one of the most profitable teams in college basketball to have bet on, finishing at 22-8 ATS.
Virginia has historically not fared well in the NCAA Tournament, with the nadir coming last year when they notoriously became the first top seed in tournament history to go down to a #16 seed in the first round. But their signature brand of basketball, based around their pack-line defense, is getting it done this year.
The talent on Virginia this year is as strong as ever, and they were the only team in the country ranked in the top five in adjusted offense and defense at KenPom in the regular season.
Things are looking promising for the Cavaliers heading into the Final Four.
Auburn was 40-1 to win the NCAA Tournament at BetDSI at the start, and while the road to a title will still be difficult for the Tigers, they have clearly outperformed their market valuations in the Big Dance.
After barely getting by New Mexico State in their opening game and losing ATS, they played three straight impressive games against marquee opponents, getting wins and covers over Kansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky.
Auburn is an explosive offensive team with speedy guards who like to play fast, force turnovers, and take and make a lot of threes.
Unfortunately, the key factor for Auburn heading into the Final Four might be the loss of their best frontcourt player, Chuma Okeke, to injury. While the Tigers adjusted admirably in their first game without Okeke against Kentucky, it will be a big challenge to pull out two more wins against elite competition without him.
Still, Auburn is on an incredible run going back to the SEC Championship game, and if their threes are falling, which they often are, they are hard for anyone to stop. Even without Okeke the Tigers are a team with a high ceiling led by cool-headed veteran guards , and they have proven their collective mental toughness.
Auburn is still the longest shot on the board, but they’ll be a tough out.
Texas Tech was 22-1 to win the National Championship at BetDSI, which was probably quite generous considering the Red Raiders featured the top defense in the country according to KenPom.
In fact, Texas Tech’s adjusted defensive efficiency (84.0) is the best by any team in the KenPom era, which dates back to 2002. So it’s not a shock that offensive standouts Buffalo and #1 seed Gonzaga both struggled mightily against Texas Tech, and wound up getting bounced.
The Red Raiders closed the regular season on a tremendous 8-1 ATS run when their offense markedly improved, and they’ve covered all four of their tournament point spreads so far as well.
The defense will be there for Texas Tech in the Final Four, and if their offense continues to excel as it has over the last two months, they’ll probably win it all. Their offense ranks Top 30 in college basketball overall on the year, but Top 10 in February and March combined.
The Red Raiders are led by star Jarrett Culver, the Big 12 Player of the Year and future NBA lottery pick, and a strong supporting cast that buys into the defensive mindset and plays with toughness.
The betting markets clearly have not yet caught up with Texas Tech, and they may continue to have betting value down to the end.
When the NCAA Tournament brackets were announced, there was talk that Michigan State got a raw deal by being put in a bracket with Duke, and that they were deserving of a #1 seed. But in the end, that didn’t matter to the Spartans, as they went up against the elite Blue Devils and came away with a win.
Michigan State was a great bet all season long, and that betting value has continued in the tournament, as they’ve covered the point spread in 3 of their 4 games, which puts them at an impressive 27-11 ATS overall on the year.
The Spartans feature one of the oldest and most disciplined teams in the country, they have depth, and are led by possibly the best point guard in the country, Cassius Winston, the Big Ten Player of the Year.
Add in one of the top Head Coaches in the country, Tom Izzo, who will be going to his eighth Final Four, and Michigan State in retrospect probably got disrespected on their tournament futures odds, which were 12-1 to win it all at BetDSI.
The Spartans aren’t necessarily the most talented team in the country, but their overall results are elite. They’re Top 10 in both offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency (only Virginia is as well), and they make few mistakes. Turnovers were a huge factor in their win against Duke, and that discipline is sure to be a key asset in the Final Four.
With great coaching, depth, balance, dominance on the inside, and an elite point guard, the Spartans appear to have no vulnerabilities.
March Madness No. 1 Seeds
The 2019 NCAA Tournament will mostly be about the Duke Blue Devils. With three of the top recruits in the country – Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish – the Blue Devils are the heavy favorite to win March Madness. However, the tournament is always filled with upsets. Could a team like Virginia, Michigan State or even Tennessee make a run in 2019?
March Madness Favorites
The latest betting odds show that Duke is a heavy favorite to win the NCAA Tournament at +170. It’s pretty easy to see why as their trio of stars averages 58.4 points per game. Add in a quality roster behind them and one of the best college basketball head coaches of all-time and it’s clear to see why they’re expected to cut down the nets. The other main competitors are the Michigan Wolverines (+750), Tennessee Volunteers (+750), Virginia Cavaliers (+800) and the Gonzaga Bulldogs (+1000), who are the only other teams at 10/1 or better. Gonzaga has been impressive as they’ve won 19 of their first 21 contests with their only two losses coming to teams ranked 12th or better. As for Virginia, it will be hard for anyone to take them seriously. As good as they’ve been in the regular season (again), remember that they became the first No. 1 seed to lost to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season.
March Madness Longshots
If you’re looking for some teams that are further down the list, there are a number of options. It’s interesting to note that a team like Nevada is posted as a top 10 team in the rankings but are considered a longshot by the oddsmakers at +2000. Meanwhile, Kentucky had been in that neighborhood last week but is now up to +1200 after winning three straight games against Top 25 foes (Auburn, Mississippi State and Kansas). They look like they are getting stronger as the season progresses. If you’re looking further down the list, teams like Auburn (+4000), Virginia Tech (+6000) and Nebraska (+10000) have had strong seasons so far and could be worth a flier.
March Madness Predictions
Favorite Pick: Duke (+170) Value Pick: Michigan State (+750) Darkhorse Pick: Kentucky (+1200) Check out the latest March Madness odds at BetDSI.eu
2019 March Madness Schedule
Here is an extensive look at the 2019 NCAA Tournament schedule, including who will be hosting and where the games will be played.
2019 March Madness Odds, Schedule and NCAA Tournament Picks
March 19 and 20
University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, Ohio (Host: University of Dayton)
First and Second Rounds
March 21 and 23
XL Center, Hartford, Connecticut (Host: University of Connecticut)
Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa (Host: Drake University)
Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Florida (Host: Jacksonville University)
Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah (Host: University of Utah)
March 22 and 24
Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, South Carolina (Host: University of South Carolina)
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio (Host: Ohio State University)
BOK Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma (Host: University of Tulsa)
SAP Center, San Jose, California (Host: West Coast Conference)
Regional Semifinals and Finals (Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight)
March 28 and 30
West Regional, Honda Center, Anaheim, California (Host: Big West Conference)
South Regional, KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky (Host: University of Louisville)
March 29 and 31
East Regional, Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C. (Host: Georgetown University)
Midwest Regional, Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri (Host: Missouri Valley Conference)
National Semifinals and Championship (Final Four and Championship)
April 6 and 8
U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Host: University of Minnesota)
2019 March Madness Odds and Team Previews
At odds of +210 at BetDSI Sportsbook, Duke is the clear favorite to win the tournament, and we’re seeing the expected cascade of “Nobody’s Beating Duke”-style comments from college hoops analysts everywhere.
Yeah they only shoot 30% from three and 69% from the free throw line, but they’re jammed with lottery picks, they get easy transition baskets, their defense is elite, and of course, they’re now at full strength with Zion Williamson back from injury.
Duke is not undefeated, however, and if there’s a night where their shooting is way off and Zion gets into foul trouble, they may be vulnerable.
But “Nobody’s Beating Duke” may be all the analysis you need to justify a play on the favorite at better than 2-1 odds. Some notable advanced analytics, though, do give Duke only the second-best chance to win it all, behind Virginia.
Michigan State may have gotten a raw deal being put in a bracket with Duke. Many felt they deserved a #1 seed, with one of the oldest and most disciplined teams in the country.
The Spartans impressed winning the Big Ten conference tournament, and they were an undervalued team with consistent betting value all season long, finishing at 24-10 ATS overall.
To win the NCAA Tournament this year, though, they’ll have to get past Duke to make the Final Four, and injuries are a significant x-factor right now for Tom Izzo’s squad. Key players Joshua Langford and Cassius Winston both have injury concerns heading into the tournament, and Kyle Ahrens is out.
The Spartans have depth, and will be well-coached as always, but they may have peaked in the conference tournament.
LSU is the #3 seed in the East but they are 50-1 at BetDSI to win the tournament, and they were notably undervalued by the betting markets away from home this year, going 10-4-1 ATS in their games outside of Baton Rouge.
LSU is dangerous when at their best, led by dynamic PG Tremont Waters and impressive freshman forward Naz Reid. They play a fast pace, running and dunking and attacking.
The Tigers won the SEC’s regular-season title but got bounced in their opening game of the Conference tournament, so they may be primed for redemption in the Big Dance.
It’s debatable what their chances will be if they meet Michigan State or Duke, but they’ll be an exciting team to watch in the opening rounds.
Mississippi State is 100-1 to win the tournament at BetDSI despite being given a #5 seed, which has been questioned by many.
The Bulldogs were a middle-of-the-pack SEC team that didn’t excel against the better teams in the conference, and they may not have had a Top 20 season this year to merit this seeding.
They do have a legitimate star guard tandem that plays with great chemistry in Quinndary Weatherspoon and Lamar Peters, and that can be very valuable come tourney time.
But so far, Mississippi State hasn’t shown that they can be relied on to win games against the elites of college basketball.
Maryland’s roster is marked by talent but also inexperience, and as a #6 seed their tournament prospects are a bit hard to get a read on.
Big men Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith give the Terrapins a clear talent edge inside over many teams, but as a team their shot selection was notably poor this year, and on defense they were literally dead-last in the country at forcing turnovers. Maryland’s overall results this year were inconsistent, as you might expect from such a young squad. After losing straight up as a favorite late in the season to both Penn State and Nebraska, how can Maryland be expected to compete with the elite of college basketball? If you think they can, and can go all the way, you can get 100-1 at BetDSI.
Louisville’s name is being tossed around as one of the most potentially dangerous lower seeds in the tournament.
They come in having lost 7 of their last 10 games straight up, but they are clearly capable of hanging with the best in the nation as one of those losses was to Duke by just 2 points, and they also boast wins over Michigan State and UNC on their resume. They have a star player in Jordan Nwora supported by an outstanding roster behind him, and the Cardinals’ late-season struggles may cause them to be undervalued heading into the tournament. They can be had at odds of 100-1 to win it all at BetDSI, and a Final Four appearance by Louisville this year is far from unthinkable.
VCU won the Atlantic 10 regular-season title despite mediocre projections preseason.
They’ll have to face Duke in their second game though, and they will probably be outclassed. VCU is similar to Duke offensively in that they like to run and get transition baskets, and they shoot poorly from 3-point range.
The difference of course, is that Duke does it all much better.
VCU was also a good bet overall on the season, at 20-11-1 ATS, and they got big-margin covers the three times they were a big underdog, against St John’s, Texas and Virginia.
Central Florida is all about 7-6 defensive monster center Tacko Fall manning the inside. Fall is huge and talented, and creates nightmare matchups for teams in the paint.
Unfortunately, UCF, like VCU, will run into Duke if they win their opening game, and suffice it to say, Fall’s presence won’t likely be enough to carry the Knights the entire game against the Blue Devils.
At 200-1, UCF is going to need a ton of luck just to get past Duke, let alone win the tourney. They did cover 8 of their last 10 games though, so there may be some point spread value with UCF as long as they last.
Minnesota is 250-1 at BetDSI to win the NCAA Tournament, and they may be looking at an early exit this year.
The Gophers play great 3-point defense, but they have question marks in all other areas of their game.
They did close the season well from an ATS standpoint, covering 10 of their final 16 games against Big Ten competition, but a deep run in the tournament seems unlikely.
Reports of sharp money coming in early against Minnesota in various betting markets indicates that probably not too many wiseguys will have Minnesota running deep in their brackets this year.
Belmont has an impressively effective offense to go along with big vulnerabilities on defense, but breaking news that Nick Muszynski will play for the Bruins in the tournament will give them a nice boost on D.
Belmont probably doesn’t have what it takes to make a sustained run to the finals, but on any given night their offense, which ranks second in the nation at 87.4 points per game, is capable of keeping them competitive with any elite team that is having an off night shooting.
Temple features a potent three-headed guard-based attack that will be looking to send departing Head Coach Fran Dunphy out on a high note.
Teams that eke into the tournament and wind up in a play-in game sometimes make surprisingly deep runs, playing with a chip on their shoulder.
Led by AAC scoring leader veteran guard Shizz Alston Jr., Temple might fit that bill.
While an outright tourney win by Temple would by shocking, a deeper-than-expected run by Temple is something to consider betting on.
The Liberty Flames are 300-1 at BetDSI to win the NCAA Tournament, and they are an intriguing #12 seed that already has a notable win under their belt this year from beating UCLA outright at Pauley Pavilion in December.
Liberty is led by star Scottie James, and they have a handful of three-point shooters who are capable of getting hot at any time.
The Flames are probably too outclassed to actually win the whole thing, but they will clearly be capable of making waves in the tournament, as they already did earlier this season.
The St Louis Billikens were preseason Atlantic-10 favorites, but wound up dealing with significant adversity in the beginning weeks of the season, and they finished the regular season in the middle of the pack in the conference standings.
They seemed to gain new life and resolve in the conference tournament, however, winning it all and earning an NCAA tournament berth.
St Louis wins with defense, and their overall offensive numbers are flat-out bad, led by their offensive efficiency ranking of #205 according to KenPom.
But if the Billikens show the same grit and determination they showed in the conference tournament, they will be a tough out in the Big Dance.
Yale is a massive 1,000-1 longshot to win it all at BetDSI, but they are an impressive team this year for their level.
Miye Oni is a legitimate NBA prospect leading the Elis, and he and Alex Copeland create a formidable offensive tandem.
Unfortunately, Yale doesn’t have the depth of elite talent to be likely to make a deep run, but they may be a good point spread bet as far as they go.
They play an exciting up-tempo style, both scoring and giving up a lot of points. It will be fun to see how closely they can hang with better teams from better conferences, and for how long.
Bradley is 2,000-1 to win the NCAA Tournament at BetDSI.
Bradley did finish the season strong, winning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament and covering 11 of their last 16 games. But they are probably looking at a dominant opening-round loss against Michigan State.
The Braves’ success is predicated on great defense and they do have some nice 3-point shooters, but the consistency on offense probably just isn’t there for Bradley to make any waves in the tourney this year.
North Carolina Central is too outclassed to win the NCAA Tournament, but the MEAC conference champs do have some positives heading into their play-in game.
The Eagles are actually the 18th most experienced team in the country, and they have impressive 3-point defensive numbers as well.
They’re led by star player Raasean Davis, and they were a good bet overall on the year, finishing 17-11-2 ATS.
North Dakota State had an up-and-down season that ended on a big up that they rode to a conference championship and NCAA Tournament berth.
They don’t have a go-to scorer they can rely on in crunch time, and it feels like the way the season has gone for North Dakota State, the Big Dance may prove to be a big down for them after the nice conference tournament win.
Virginia, of course, last year notoriously became the first top seed in tournament history to go down to a #16 seed in the first round, and here they are, back again in a top slot, sure to be looking for redemption.
Analytics are giving the Cavaliers quite a bit of respect, with many outlets rating them as having a slightly better chance to win a national title than Duke. They’re the only team in the country ranked in the top five in adjusted offense and defense at KenPom.
But the betting markets don’t yet agree. At BetDSI, Virginia is being offered at 7-1 odds to win the national title, the longest odds of the 4 #1 seeds this year.
The Cavaliers will try to win it all by once again doing what they’ve always done - playing their unique brand of pack-line defense, that has been so utterly dominant in the regular season, yet so curiously underwhelming in the NCAA Tournament.
The talent on the team is as strong as ever. But their history of struggles in the postseason is not limited to last season. Since 2001, Virginia has lost in the NCAA Tournament six times as a higher-seeded team.
Tennessee is a dangerous #2 seed in a region where the top seed may be particularly vulnerable, and there may be betting value with the Volunteers to win it all this year at odds of 14-1, which is currently being offered at BetDSI.
It was only a month ago that the Vols were being seriously considered as the best team in the country, until they lost at Kentucky. But they also beat Kentucky twice this year, as well as #1 seed Gonzaga.
The Volunteers are balanced, they have depth and experience, they feature a go-to star in Grant Williams, as well as a supporting star with NBA potential in Admiral Schofield.
The one area of concern for Tennessee is their mediocre 36% 3-point shooting, which might not be a big liability against many opponents, but could be vital if they wind up facing Virginia in the Elite 8, as shooting over the Cavaliers’ defense from three is the only way to beat them.
Purdue is a #3 seed and is 30-1 at BetDSI to win the National Championship.
The Big Ten was considered to be the best conference in college basketball this year, and the Boilermakers impressively finished at the top of the standings. Their loss in the conference tournament though, may give them a psychological edge for a bounce back in the Big Dance.
Purdue shoots a high percentage of their shots from 3-point range, and they’ll need to avoid going cold to make a deep run.
Kansas St was a good bet overall on the year, and particularly so down the stretch of the regular season, but they may be without star forward Dean Wade, which is a huge loss for the Wildcats.
Kansas St’s numbers this year are significantly worse with Wade out, and it’s unclear how productive he will be if he does play.
The Wildcats won a share of the Big 12 regular season title as a result of their successful emphasis on defense, but their poor shooting from the free throw line and 3-point range are likely to hurt them in the NCAA Tournament.
Even getting 66-1 on Kansas St to win it all is probably not worth a play.
Wisconsin plays great defense, and they feature a legitimate NBA prospect in stud forward Ethan Happ.
But beyond Happ, their offensive depth is limited, which is why they generally faltered ATS during the regular season when they were an underdog and facing tournament-caliber opponents.
Wisconsin is scrappy, and they’re capable of hanging close with elite competition. But pulling out multiple wins against legitimate top-tier teams will likely be a challenge for the Badgers, who are 86-1 to win the tournament at BetDSI.
Villanova didn’t suffer a letdown this season after winning their second national championship in three years last year and losing a huge amount of talent. The Wildcats came back and still won the regular-season and tournament titles in the Big East.
As always, Villanova’s strength is its three-point shooting, but they were notably inconsistent this year, and were unimpressive down the stretch of the Big East season, losing 6 of their last 9 games ATS, and struggling against teams they should have handled more easily.
Still, this program has proved itself, and advanced analytics have the Wildcats generally rated a bit higher than the betting markets seem to. BetDSI is offering Villanova at odds of 40-1 to win it all.
Cincinnati is a gritty, tough team that plays strong defense, has a nicely positive turnover margin of +3.35 on the year, and features the AAC Player Of The Year guard Jarron Cumberland.
They may also have gotten a bit underseeded in the #7 slot and should come out focused and determined.
BetDSI has the Bearcats at odds of 100-1 to win the title, and they may at least be a good bet to make a deep run and have ATS value on their point spreads. They’re a grinding team that is not likely to get blown out and may be flying a bit under the radar.
Cincinnati is a gritty, tough team that plays strong defense, has a nicely positive turnover margin of +3.35 on the year, and features the AAC Player Of The Year guard Jarron Cumberland.
They may also have gotten a bit underseeded in the #7 slot and should come out focused and determined.
BetDSI has the Bearcats at odds of 100-1 to win the title, and they may at least be a good bet to make a deep run and have ATS value on their point spreads. They’re a grinding team that is not likely to get blown out and may be flying a bit under the radar.
Oklahoma was a great bet on the year, finishing at 19-10-3 ATS overall, but they wound up near the bottom of the Big 12 standings, and many have questioned their #9 seeding.
The Sooners played solid top 25 defense this year but they had major issues offensively, and they didn’t do well at all during the regular season when facing tournament-caliber opposition.
They do feature a deep rotation, with 9 different players getting double digit minutes, but they probably won’t be a Cinderella team this year.
Iowa was a poor bet overall on the year, finishing at 13-20 ATS, and they were particularly bad down the stretch. The Hawkeyes lost 5 of their last 6 games in a row straight up, and went an abysmal 1-9 ATS over their last 10.
Iowa’s vulnerability this year is on defense, which is sure to catch up with them in the tournament, more likely sooner than later.
The Hawkeyes played a tough schedule, but overall they were dominated by the tournament-caliber teams they faced, and they should be sent home by one this year relatively quickly.
St Mary’s caught everyone’s attention with an upset win over Gonzaga in the WCC conference title game, and they now have people filling out their brackets wondering how much of a fluke that result was or not.
St Mary’s does play a style of ball that can be tough to prepare for, as well as keep them in games when they’re having an off night or up against a tougher opponent.
They play at a very deliberate pace, but are at the same time efficient on offense, and are good at taking opponents out of their preferred game plans.
The Gaels could be a Cinderella team this year, and they are being offered at 300-1 to win the tournament at BetDSI.
Oregon has reportedly taken sharp betting action on their point spread for their opening round game against Wisconsin, despite the fact that the Pac-12 is seen as a weak conference this year.
The Ducks have won 8 in a row both straight up and ATS, and it’s possible that they peaked with their dominant win in the Pac-12 tournament title game.
On the other hand, advanced analytics seem to be grading the Ducks favorably, admiring their defensive metrics and predicting them to be one of the double-digit seeds with a high likelihood of being a Cinderella team.
BetDSI has Oregon at odds of 200-1 to win the NCAA Tournament.
UC Irvine, a #13 seed, and 200-1 to win the tournament at BetDSI, is one of the trendy picks this year for a first-round upset.
The Anteaters dominated their conference tournament, they were a great bet at 20-13-1 ATS overall on the year, and their success was predicated on fundamental factors that will be in play in the tournament. Irvine is a particularly good rebounding team, and they returned all 5 starters this year from last year’s team.
The knock on Irvine heading into the tournament is their relatively weak overall strength of schedule. But their dominance against the teams they played suggests that a Cinderella run from them may be an expectation worth betting on.
Old Dominion was unreliable on offense this year, but they were elite enough on defense to thrive in the Conference USA and make the tournament.
ODU likes to slow the pace to a crawl, which might make them a good bet against the spread in tournament games where they are a sizable underdog, as they happen to be in their opening game.
But their limited offense just won’t be enough to propel them to a deep run once they match up with elite teams with more powerful offenses than they are used to holding down.
The Monarchs do have a nice win over Syracuse on their resume this year, but they likely have no betting value to win the tournament even at odds of 500-1, which is currently being offered at BetDSI.
Colgate closed the season well, covering 7 of their last 9 games.
The Raiders shoot well from 3-point range, but unfortunately have to take on tough Tennessee in their opening game of their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1996, and they have little hope of making it past one of the legitimately elite teams in the country.
Gardner-Webb has the unenviable task of facing #1 Virginia as a #16 seed the year after the Cavaliers were shamefully chucked by a #16 seed for the first time in NCAA Tournament history.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs did beat Wake Forest and Georgia Tech outright this year, and they also closed the season on a nice 7-1 ATS run, so they may be worth consideration for an ATS cover this year against Virginia, but an outright win is unthinkable against an elite team that will be anomalously focused and determined.
Gonzaga is the top seed in the West, and they have the third-shortest odds to win the NCAA Tournament at BetDSI, at +550.
Gonzaga does have a history of early tournament exits, but they may be psychologically primed to avoid that fate again this year after their shocking loss to St Mary’s in the West Coast Conference tournament finals.
On paper, the Bulldogs look extremely impressive. They’re first in the country in offensive efficiency at KenPom, and first in effective field goal percentage.
They’re less reliant on 3-point shooting than many other teams, and their elite half-court offense featuring stud big man Rui Hachimura could prove to be a key factor in intense, tightly-contested games deep in the tournament.
Gonzaga is legitimately elite, and they have to be looking to atone for their conference tournament loss this year, as well as their history of underwhelming NCAA Tournament results.
The Bulldogs were also a good bet overall on the year, finishing at 21-12 ATS, and it’s quite possible that the market is continuing to give them too little respect with their futures odds to win the tournament.
Michigan’s bread and butter this year is their elite defense, which is ranked second in adjusted efficiency at KenPom.
But they’ll need to get consistent offensive production as well to win it all, and what they’ve shown this year overall on offense doesn’t inspire confidence.
The Wolverines are a #2 seed and 14-1 to win the title at BetDSI, but they don’t have reliable outside shooting and they lack depth down low. And on top of that, they don’t shoot free throws well, which is likely to be crucial in close tournament games.
They’ve enjoyed success this year because their defense has been just that great, they don’t turn the ball over, and their big wings are usually too difficult for inferior opponents to match up with.
But in the tournament, it feels like Michigan might be at a disadvantage against the more complete elite teams.
Texas Tech is 22-1 to win the National Championship at BetDSI, and they may be a dangerous team heading into the Big Dance after a first-round exit in the Big 12 Conference tournament.
The Red Raiders have the top defense in the country according to KenPom, and when their offense picked up down the stretch of the regular season, they became an ATS juggernaut, covering 8 of their last 9 regular season point spreads.
The defense will be there for Texas Tech in the tournament. The big question is, will their improved 3-point shooting continue, or will they revert back to their anemic offensive ways of the beginning parts of the season?
Florida State is tall and long, they feature a deep rotation of athletic players, and they will present serious matchup problems on defense for anyone they meet in the tournament, including top-seeded Gonzaga.
The Seminoles’ challenges will be to find consistent scoring and to avoid turnovers.
But Florida State has already beaten a #1 seed in Virginia this year, and they did so in a dominant fashion.
At 30-1 to win it all at BetDSI, there may be some betting value with Florida State.
FSU also trended Under in non-home games this season, going 6-12 O/U outside of Tallahassee.
Marquette is a #5 seed and 66-1 to win the National Championship at BetDSI, both of which seem a bit generous in light of the Eagles’ stumbles to the finish line this year. Marquette lost 5 of their last 6 games straight up, including 4 in which they were favored.
Still, they seemed like a different team earlier in the year, when they were covering point spreads game-in and game-out.
Marquette had problems with turnovers during their bad run down the stretch, and that is a key issue that will need to be fixed for them to have a good showing in the tournament. But if they can solve those turnover problems that have plagued them recently, they do have a complement of potent 3-point shooters who can be difficult to shut down.
Buffalo is currently far and away the class of the MAC, and even though expectations were high this year for the Bulls, they still retained betting value, finishing the year at 18-14 ATS. That includes a 2-5 ATS finish where the market began to adjust and more accurately set Buffalo’s point spreads.
A deep tournament run would surprise few and is being predicted by many.
Buffalo is improved from last season, they’re deep and senior-heavy, and they rank highly both on offense and defense. They play at a fast pace but are also Top 20 in the country in not turning the ball over.
The table seems to be set for the Bulls to shine in the tournament this year, but as we know, with March Madness, always expect the unexpected.
Nevada’s season saw them starkly undervalued to start, going 6-1 ATS in their first 7 games, and then equally overvalued at the end, losing 7 of their last 8 ATS. Astute college hoops handicappers were able to ride both waves and identify market mis-pricings of Nevada in both directions.
The question is, what can we expect to see from the Wolf Pack in the Big Dance?
They were labeled a Final Four team by some respected analysts in the beginning of the season, but fatigue may have come into play recently, as their top three players all have averaged at least 34 minutes per game this season. The break may do this team a lot of good, and we might see a form from them closer to what we saw at the start of the year. Or not.
Neither a Final Four appearance nor an opening game loss would be a surprise from Nevada. But if you want to bet them to win it all, BetDSI is offering them at 100-1.
Syracuse’s system has proven it can work reliably come tourney time, and this year’s version of the Orange already has a straight up win over Duke to their credit.
They also have three double-digit home losses as a favorite on their resume as well.
It’s never a shock when a reasonable Syracuse team makes a very deep run, and you can get 150-1 for the Orange to win it all at BetDSI.
Their offensive numbers this year, though, are less promising than they’ve been in recent tournaments. So a patented Syracuse run where they stifle opponents’ 3-point shooting and scrap out win after win might be a bit less likely than in years past.
But Jim Boeheim’s team has a habit of turning up it’s best version of itself in the Big Dance.
Baylor impressively overachieved this season, overcoming modest expectations and injuries to make the NCAA Tournament.
They’re lacking in talent compared to many other teams in the tourney, but they play with heart and tenacity, and that shows up in their impressive offensive rebounding numbers. Like many mid-range seeds, their ceiling is high but their floor is low.
Baylor closed the season way overvalued, going 1-8-2 ATS over their final 11 games.
The Bears’ grit and determination probably won’t get them a National Championship, but they’ll be a tough out until they’re finally beaten.
Florida is a #10 seed and 200-1 to win the NCAA Tournament at BetDSI, but they may be a team that is flying a bit under the radar, and there was some notable early sharp action that came in on Florida for their opening game.
The Gators prefer a slower pace, and despite lacking true star power, they seem to be finding a winning team identity at the right time.
Florida was also a particularly good bet, as well as an under-trending team, in games away from their home court this season.
Outside of Gainesville, the Gators were 13-6 ATS, as well as an amazing 3-16 O/U. They had an up-and-down season, but played a tough SEC schedule and may be a lower seed with Cinderella potential.
The Pac-12 was considered to be a relatively weak conference this season, so Arizona State may be at a disadvantage heading into their NCAA Tournament play-in game.
The Sun Devils probably don’t have the offense to make up for their vulnerable defense against tournament teams, and a deep run by Bobby Hurley’s squad seems hard to imagine.
They’ll probably try to just go as far as their offense will carry them, so perhaps Overs will be the way to look to play Arizona State games as long as they remain in the tournament.
Advanced analytics suggest St John’s has no business being in the tournament, with many reputable outlets ranking them in the 70s nationally.
The Red Storm do have impressive scoring talent on their roster, particularly star guard Shamorie Ponds, but their defensive numbers are bad and their strength of schedule this year was questionable.
They weren’t a good bet on the year overall, opening and closing the regular season with runs of ATS losses.
Murray State is 250-1 to win the NCAA Tournament at BetDSI, and while few are calling for the dangerous Racers to win it all, they do appear to have emerged as a popular pick for a classic #12 vs #5 upset this year.
Murray State features Ja Morant, a projected NBA lottery pick, leading their offense which is 11th in the nation in scoring, and they proved their ability to hang with Power Five teams in hostile environments earlier this year with close straight up losses but ATS wins in games on the road against Alabama and Auburn.
The tournament figures to be a showcase for Morant, and Murray State may have point spread value in the process as a result.
The Racers are very vulnerable defensively though, and especially from two-point range. So if Murray State does make a deep run, look for them to have more problems when facing teams that can take advantage of them closer to the basket.
Northern Kentucky was first in the Horizon League standings this year, but they were somewhat surprisingly overvalued, and were actually a poor bet overall, going 12-20 ATS.
They also lost ATS both of their games this season when they were big underdogs and stepping up in class against UCF and Cincinnati.
They have good offensive efficiency numbers though, and they shoot well from 3-point range, so they will have the potential to get hot and steal a game or two.
But all signs indicate that the Norse are not ready to pull out wins against upper-level teams, and they probably aren’t a good bet to make an unexpected run this year.
Montana took some initial sharp action on their point spread as a big underdog for their opening round game against Michigan, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s betting value with their odds to win the tournament, which currently sit at 1,000-1 at BetDSI.
Montana’s fortunes in the tournament this year aren’t likely to be much different from last year, as they return a similar team. They have impressive guards who can score and hit from 3-point range at a high percentage and put up points in spurts against anyone when they get hot.
But the Grizzlies just don’t have the defensive presence or the size to be likely to make a deep run in the tournament.
Fairleigh Dickinson will be competitive in their play-in game, but beyond that, they’ll be outclassed.
FDU can put up big points with their excellent 3-point shooting, but defensively it’s impossible to imagine them stopping Gonzaga, whom they will face should they win the play-in game.
Prairie View A&M is sparked by their up-tempo offense and a defense that gives up points, but also produces turnovers.
The Panthers are actually fourth in the nation in creating turnovers, and that may be a strength that will pay big dividends in the supercharged tournament atmosphere, where they will be able to take advantage of any lack of composure on the part of their opponents.
North Carolina is an impressive team this year, clearly deserving of a #1 seed, and they even outperformed their market valuations down to the wire, winding up 21-10-2 ATS overall.
The key for UNC is playing at breakneck speed on offense, getting fast break points in transition, and then dominating the battle of any ensuing boards.
If they can be drawn into a slowed-down style of play, their athletic talent on offense can be effectively neutralized.
The Tar Heels are also one of the best defensive teams in the country, and BetDSI has them at odds of +475 to with the National Title.
Kentucky is a young team as usual, and this year’s version of the Wildcats plays at a slow pace and takes relative few 3-point shots.
Their strength is their strong and deep frontcourt that rebounds well and plays excellent interior defense, and their resume boasts nice wins over North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kansas.
But the Wildcats may be vulnerable to opponents who can shoot well from three and start hitting their shots. Kentucky might not have an answer defensively or be able to keep up offensively.
Kentucky is 12-1 to win it all at BetDSI, and as formidable as they are down low, it doesn’t feel like this is their year to go all the way.
Houston is a dangerous #3 seed heading into the tournament, playing great defense and with depth.
They were an excellent bet on the year, going 21-12-1 ATS, although they did fail to cover 4 of their last 6.
The Cougars will definitely be stepping up in class in general in the Big Dance, as their overall level of competition during the regular season was not terribly difficult. They may handle it without a hitch, though and make a deep run.
Some analytics suggest that Houston was legitimately deserving of a #2 seed.
Kansas heads into the tournament with a #4 seed and 50-1 odds at BetDSI to win it all, after starting the year ranked #1 in the AP’s preseason poll.
The Jayhawks suffered key personnel losses during the regular season, but they will still send out a talented roster featuring elite players such as Dedric Lawson.
But the Jayhawks have significant issues with their outside shooting as well as their offensive rebounding, and while they’re still going to be strong defensively in the tournament, it might not be their year to make a challenge for the title.
Auburn is an explosive offensive team led by speedy guard Jared Harper. The Tigers play fast, they force turnovers, excel in transition, and take and make a lot of threes.
They closed the season covering 5 of their last 6 games, including two impressive straight up wins over elite Tennessee.
At BetDSI, Auburn is 40-1 to win the NCAA Tournament, and there may be some betting value there. The Tigers clearly are a team with a high ceiling and a legitimate chance of beating any elite team on any given night.
The Tigers were still only roughly .500 against tournament-caliber teams overall on the year. But their offensive numbers and two late-season wins over Tennessee are undeniably impressive.
Iowa St is deep and talented, and a team that can beat anyone if their offense gets going, but also a team with a low floor on any given night.
The Cyclones don’t play defense all that well, but they don’t have to, as their game plan is usually just to get into a shootout and hope to come out on top.
Iowa State went 6-3 straight up against Top 25 opponents this season, and a deep run in being predicted by some.
BetDSI has the Cyclones at 40-1 to win the Chanmpionship.
Wofford is 125-1 at BetDSI to win the NCAA Tournament, but they’re ranked 19th nationally in adjusted efficiency by KenPom, driven by their impressive three-point shooting accuracy, hitting over 41% from 3-point range as a team.
Ominously, Wofford did not fare too well in the handful of games in the regular season where they stepped up in class. They got a nice straight up win over South Carolina as a sizable underdog, but their other 4 games as a big dog all wound up as ATS losses.
Regardless, the offensive firepower is there for Wofford, they have some size as well, and their team strengths may match up particularly well for them if they face Kentucky in the second round.
Utah St had low expectations coming into the season in their first year under new Head Coach Craig Smith, but spurred by effort and great rebounding numbers, they wound up winning the Mountain West conference tournament and landing in the Big Dance.
Their talent is limited, and their efficiency numbers on the year are good but far from great.
The Aggies were given a #8 seed, but they’re 500-1 to win it all at BetDSI, and not likely to make a deep run this year. They did close the season on a nice 7-2 ATS run.
Washington is an interesting team to consider heading into the tournament.
The Pac-12 was notably subpar this season, and while the Huskies got some nice results in conference play, they also wound up going 1-7 straight up on the year against teams that wound up in the NCAA Tournament.
But, they do play a tricky brand of 2-3 zone defense that can pay unexpected dividends in the tournament, as we also see with Syracuse.
The Huskies are 200-1 to win the national title at BetDSI, and they do seem to be getting written off by many analysts, which may in retrospect prove to have been hasty.
Seton Hall is the classic NCAA Tournament team that’s hard to get a read on, due to the impressive highs and concerning lows they displayed during the regular season.
The Pirates struggled at times in the Big East in general, with a porous defense that got exposed by average offenses. But they also enjoyed impressive wins over Kentucky and Maryland, and closed the season with 5 straight ATS margin covers.
They also benefited from line value when they were away from home, going 12-6 ATS on the year in games played outside of New Jersey.
Ohio State finished in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten standings, and they were a good fade overall as well, finishing 14-19 ATS on the year. But they’re strong defensively and it’s not unthinkable that the Buckeyes could take on a Cinderella role this year.
Ohio State has gone just 7-13 straight up since January 1, but they seem to have fared better in their small sample size of games played on neutral courts this year, outperforming market expectations and covering the point spread in all four of their neutral site games.
The Buckeyes are not a great team, but after a relatively uninspiring season, they could be primed to catch people by surprise in the tournament.
New Mexico State is one of the lower seeds that looks particularly promising heading into the tournament. They rebound very well, they run an efficient offense, and they’re deep, rotating 9 or 10 players with double-digit minutes.
The biggest question mark for the Aggies is the fact that they weren’t tested with a difficult schedule this year, but their toughest game came against Kansas, and in that one they got an easy cover as a big underdog in a game that went down to the wire.
Their odds to win the tournament are 250-1 at BetDSI, and while that’s not likely in the cards, a Cinderella run with point spread value attached to it is entirely possible.
Northeastern is a #13 seed and at BetDSI they’re being offered at 1,000-1 to win it all.
The Huskies have problems rebounding and on defense, so they’ll have little margin for error with their bread and butter - 3-point shooting - in the tournament.
Northeastern likes to play a deliberate pace and try to get up a three, and they do have shooters who can get hot, in which case the Huskies could put a scare into a superior opponent.
But if the bombs aren’t falling for Northeastern, there’s nothing else they can do to keep themselves competitive with top competition.
Georgia State impressed in the Sun Belt this season by hitting almost 40% from 3-point range, with four of their 5 starters shooting over 40% from 3, and that is a weapon that will keep them poised for an upset in early rounds of the tournament this year.
The Panthers won outright against both Alabama and Georgia this year, so they are clearly capable of hanging with teams from top conferences for an entire game.
Ironically, Georgia State’s free throw shooting has not been good this year, but they may at least have point spread value in the tournament, as they closed the season with a 7-1-1 ATS record over their last 9 games.
Abilene Christian is making its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, and they’ll be at a huge talent disadvantage facing Kentucky in their opening game.
The Wildcats covered 7 of their last 9 games down the stretch, but they got absolutely blasted by Texas Tech the one time they stepped way up in class, and they’re probably in for more of the same against Kentucky.
Iona had the athleticism to win the MAAC conference tournament this year, but they have glaring holes in their game that likely spell utter doom for them when they match up with top-ranked North Carolina in the opening round.
The Gaels like to run and they can be effective from 3-point range, but they have awful rebounding numbers, which would be bad for them against anyone in the tourney, but will be particularly so against UNC.
They also can’t defend the three.
An upset by Iona over UNC is very, very unlikely.
March Madness Bracket Challenge Terms and Prizes
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- Contestants must pick the winners of the 63 games in the 2019 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament. Points will be awarded for each correct pick. Entries must be completed online before the picks deadline at 12:00pm (noon) ET on Thursday, March 21, 2019.
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- In the event of a tie, the position winner will be the contestant who most closely predicts the combined total amount of points in the National Championship Game on April 8th, 2019. In the case that more than one contestant correctly predicts the total score of the championship game, the winner will be determined by the earlier entry date and time. Only one winner per position will be allowed.
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