The Super Bowl. The World Series. The Masters. The Kentucky Derby. The NCAA Tournament. And probably even more. There are sports, and then there are must-see, can’t-miss sporting events. It’s debatable what is the best or most compelling. But what is not debatable is which sport owns the month of March.
Football concludes in early February. The NBA and NHL haven’t reached their playoff peaks yet. And MLB is in Spring Training mode. That leaves the third month of the calendar year all to college basketball as the sports world turns its attention to the bracket and March Madness expert picks cascade throughout the country.
In the past few years, it’s felt like professional parity has trickled down to the college ranks, as even though the 2022 Final Four featured plenty of blue blood, a clear-cut winner wasn’t really decided until the Championship game. 2023 is no different, as anywhere from 12-14 programs have a legitimate shot to cut down the nets in Houston.
And speaking of Houston, the Cougars have been one of the favorites for the majority of the season, so they could have a huge advantage if they were fortunate enough to advance to NRG Stadium as one of the last four teams remaining.
But for the purposes of this article, we’re excluding Houston and Purdue and focusing on some teams with a better value to win it all. Let’s highlight four teams that could potentially fill their school’s pockets and yours.
Kansas Jayhawks (+1200)
Keep in mind that these odds will fluctuate over the next couple of months, but if you’re still getting double-digit odds on the Jayhawks at any point, it’d be prudent to pounce. Had they not won it all last year, these odds would probably be lower.
Oddsmakers realize that it’s extremely difficult to go back-to-back (it hasn’t been done since 2006-07 with Florida), so that might be the main factor going against them.
But Kansas has a player of the year candidate in Jalen Wilson and one of the best coaches in the nation in Bill Self. You could argue that the best team in the best conference has been six different ways throughout this season, but there’s something to be said for experience, something the other five contenders in the Big 12 don’t have recently.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (+2500)
Mark Few has built a dynasty in the Great Northwest, and he’s got another contender this year. Yes, they’ve never won it all, and bettor fatigue may have set in, considering they’ve been the favorites a handful of times over the last decade. But they’ve been to the title game twice and, if it’s possible, are flying under the radar this time around.
That might be the best time to take advantage. When was the last time the Bulldogs were greater than 20-1 in February? They’ve still got Drew Timme, and they’ve actually been tested in the WCC this year, maybe hardening them more than when they coasted through the conference like in years past. Too good to pass up.
North Carolina Tar Heels (+3500)
Gonzaga was the runner-up in 2021, while UNC had an up-close look at Kansas’ trophy ceremony in 2022. Many experts felt that the Tar Heels would use that as motivation to get back to the Big Dance this year and slotted them as the top team in the land to start the season.
And while they haven’t lived up to those No.1 expectations, North Carolina still has the core group that led them on that magical run and, assuming they qualify for the NCAA Tournament, have the necessary talent to duplicate it this year.
Creighton Blue Jays (+3500)
Same price as the Tar Heels and similar season path. Creighton started the year as a Top 10 team but fell out of the rankings when they endured a six-game losing streak. It’s important to note, however, that they were missing stud center Ryan Kalkbrenner during that stretch, and his return propelled the Jays back into a team worth watching.
The price on Creighton has come down considerably ever since Kalkbrenner came back. It was +5000 at one point, +4500 right after that, and it won’t stay at 35-1 for very long, either. You can still get a nice price on this team to make the Final Four if you aren’t willing to go all the way with them.
It should be a great tournament filled with upsets and surprises that commands the full attention of the month of March. Best of luck.