Houston And Alabama Could Enter March Madness As Co-Favorites

Updated: 7 Sport

Devin Ellington breaks down the NCAA men's basketball contenders into three tiers.

Houston And Alabama Could Enter March Madness As Co-Favorites
Devin Ellington Basketball Editor

Devin Anthony Ellington is OLBGs expert Basketball writer. He has previously contributed to numerous quality publications including ESPN.

  • Houston is currently the odds-on favorite to cut down the nets in April at +600.
  • Alabama is closing strong and has moved up to +750 to win it all.
  • Kansas could lock up the number one overall seed in March Madness if they win the Big XII tournament.

March Madness is nearly upon us and the Selection Committee is spending the next week and a half gathering all that they need in order to craft a bracket. In this article we will break down the Top-10 teams entering into the Big Dance. To help categorize the teams, I will be placing them into tiers.

The Elite Tier

This tier consists of three teams who are all under the +1000 mark to win the national championship in Houston, Texas. The Houston Cougars, Kansas Jayhawks , and Alabama Crimson Tide are all a cut above the competition in the eyes of oddsmakers. The Jayhawks (+850) hold 15 Quad-1 wins. For perspective, no other team currently projected as a 1-seed has more than 9 Quad-1 wins. Kansas has already won their regular season conference title in a conference that has 90% of its teams inside of the Top-50 of the NET rankings, making them the overall #1 seed. Houston (+600) is the odds-on betting favorite and are the only CBB team to rank inside of the Top-10 for both offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency, per Bart Torvik. Then there's Alabama (+750) who has had a wild ride over the last month due to off-court turbulence. The Tide are the only team to be ranked Top-5 for adjusted efficiency on defense while ranking Top-15 for efficiency on offense. Look for these three teams to win their conference tournaments next week.

College Basketball National Championship Odds

Team Moneyline Probability
Houston Cougars +600 14.29%
Alabama Crimson Tide +750 11.76%
Kansas Jayhawks +850 10.53%

The Contender Tier

This tier consists of four teams who began the season with odds greater than +1500 but have current odds below +1800. UCLA (+1000) and Arizona (+1200) locked in solid Pac-12 wins last night and meet on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Arizona is ranked 4th for eFG% on offense in all of CBB, but their defense could hurt them in the tourney. Purdue (+1200) has had an up and down past month to say the least. The Boilermakers were swept by Indiana earlier this week, but it's worth noting that Purdue is the only team of this grouping that is Top-15 for adjusted efficiency on both ends of the court, per Barttorvik.com. Baylor (+1200) is a threat to win their conference tournament and should see themselves firmly planted as a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Bears last four wins include triumphs over Oklahoma State on the road, a home victory vs Top-10 Texas, a win against West Virginia, and another impressive road win against TCU who was ranked #17 at the time. 

College Basketball National Championship Odds

Team Moneyline Probability
UCLA Bruins +1000 9.09%
Arizona Wildcats +1200 7.69%
Purdue Boilermakers +1200 7.69%
Baylor Bears +1200 7.69%

We’ve had 44 NCAA Tournament champs since 1978, nine had odds of +1500 or higher entering the tournament (20.5%).

Devin Anthony Ellington - College Basketball Expert - OLBG.com

The "Half-Team" Tier

The teams on the list are generally elite in one facet of the game. For UConn it's offensive rebounding (2nd in Off. Rebounding) and for Gonzaga and Marquette it's offensive efficiency (GU 1st | MU 11th).  These teams could make deep runs if they up their play on the opposite end of the floor. For UConn that means consistently shooting better (77th) and for GU and Marquette that means getting more stops on the defensive end. Gonzaga's defense is ranked 108th for efficiency and Marquette is slightly better checking at 60th according to KenPom. UConn offers the most balance of these teams with an offensive adjusted efficiency ranking of ninth with a defensive ranking of 23rd, the only team to be inside of Top-10 for offense and Top-25 for defense in this grouping. Approach these teams with diligence and caution when filling out your brackets.

College Basketball National Championship Odds

Team Moneyline Probability
UConn Huskies +2000 4.76%
Gonzaga Bulldogs +2000 4.76%
Marquette Golden Eagles +2500 3.85%

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