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Now just six days from Selection Sunday, the first automatic bids for the 2023 NCAA Men’s Tournament were delivered this weekend. Southeastern Missouri State (Ohio Valley Conference), Kennesaw State (ASUN ), UNC Asheville (Big South), and Drake (Missouri Valley Conference) punched up their tickets to the dance. All four are extreme longshots in the 2023 March Madness title odds, but at least they’re on the board.
The Southern Conference title game (Furman vs. Chattanooga) and the Sun Belt title game (Southern Alabama vs. Louisiana) begin Monday, with the remaining 26 conference championships spread between January 7-12. March.
The table below shows the top 30 favorites to win the NCAA Tournament as of Sunday night, plus the odds for the automatic qualifiers to date.
March Madness Championship 2023 Odds
|University of California at Los Angeles||+850|
|University of Connecticut||+2000|
|san diego state||+10000|
|Southeastern state of Missouri*||+50000|
*Secured berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Houston Favored, But Not By Much
The defining feature of the 2022-23 college basketball season, at least so far, is parity. While the Houston Cougars (29-2, 17-14 ATS) sit atop the board, their +600 odds are considerably higher than those of the favorites in each of the past two seasons. Gonzaga entered the NCAA Tournament around +200 in 2021 and +300 in 2022.
Advanced metrics match probabilities. Houston also ranks as the best team in the country in kenpom.com, but his rating (29.45) is the lowest for a top-rated team since 2006. Eighty-four teams are within 20 points of Houston. In 2022, just 74 teams were within 20 points of the top-ranked gonzaga, and just 42 in 2021.
Houston’s only setbacks this season came in Alabama on December 1. 10 (71-65 at home) and Temple on Jan. 22 (56-55 at home). Other than Alabama, they faced only one other KenPom top 30 team, Saint Mary’s, whom they beat 53-48 in Fort Worth in early December.
Led by senior point guard Marcus Sasser (17.2 PPG), the Cougars play at a lethargic pace (347th in the nation in tempo) and rely on their tenacious defense. Only 12 of his 31 opponents eclipsed the 60-point mark.
Houston has never won a national championship, finishing as runner-up twice during the Phi Slamma Jamma era (1983 and 1984).
Alabama ranks a close second in national championship odds
In stark contrast to the methodical Cougars are the dynamic Alabama Crimson Tide (26-5, 16-14-1 ATS), who are currently the second favorite at +750. Nate Oats’ run and gun team plays at the second fastest pace in the country with future top-five pick Brandon Miller leading the way. The 6-foot-9 freshman is averaging nearly 20 points per game (19.6) and shooting 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Also unlike the Cougars, the Tide’s resume is littered with wins over top 30 teams. Alabama went 7-4 against opponents ranked in the top 30 by KenPom. In addition to their victory in Houston, they also beat Michigan State (24), Kentucky (21), Arkansas twice (19) and Auburn twice (26), while losing. to UConn (4th), Gonzaga (10th), Tennessee (5th) and Texas A&M (24th).
While Houston scheduled a fairly aggressive non-conference schedule, which included Alabama, Saint Mary’s, Virginia, and Oregon, Alabama is arguably the most battle-tested team due to its grueling SEC roster.
What about Gonzaga?
The Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-5, 12-17-1 ATS) ranked atop national championship odds, polls and advanced metrics for the vast majority of 2021 and 2022. But Mark Few’s team has delivered a small step back this season. due in large part to his baseline game. Forward Drew Timme (21.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG) has played to his full potential, but there’s no Jalen Suggs, Andrew Nembhard or Nigel Williams-Goss to drive the point, and it shows. Timme actually leads the team in assists at 3.2 per game.
However, to blame any part of the offense is to bury leadership. The real downfall of Gonzaga’s team this year has been his defense. The team ranks only 89th in defensive efficiency in KenPom. They were 10th in 2022 and 11th in 2021.
That said, they do possess several high-quality victories this year, beating Alabama (100-90) at Birmingham, Xavier (88-84) on neutral court, and Kentucky (88-72) and Saint Mary’s (77-68). ). ) at home.
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