We are less than a week away from Selection Sunday, the day where the basketball selection committee decides on the 36 teams that will be joining the 32 conference winners in the March Madness bracket. The process will be shown live on TV on Sunday 12th March at 6 PM Eastern on CBS. Though the 32 automatic bid places have yet to be finalized, we don’t have long to wait as the conference finals are taking place over the next few days!
With only a week to go, today seems like the best chance to make some predictions on who we think will be making the bracket. Since we can’t necessarily predict who will be voted in on Selection Sunday for the remaining 36 places, we can however predict who we think is going to make it through the conference finals and stake their claim on one of the automatic bids. There will be plenty of teams going away from the conference finals disappointed, but for many of them, that won’t be the end.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The first team I’d like to talk about are the Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama has a bye into the next round of the SEC Tournament after finishing first in the conference with a record of 16-2 (26-5 overall). They have quite a good history in the tournament, reaching the Sweet Sixteen stage eight times in their 23 entries and peaking at the Elite Eight once in 2004. Discarding all of that, fans of the Crimson Tide have high expectations for this season and the boys won’t be wanting to disappoint!
Next up, the Purdue Boilermakers. The Boilermakers occupy the top spot in the Big Ten and because of this they earned themselves a bye in the Big Ten Tournament. The extra days rest sometimes can do a team the world of good, especially when they’ve had a real tough time in the Big Ten, finishing with a record of 15-5 (26-5 Overall) however it could also do the opposite. Sometimes being in the rhythm of things during the season can keep momentum going into the nitty gritty games that matter. But, the Boilermakers are a really good team but have only made it as far as the Final Four twice in their 33 appearances. The fans will be holding out hope that the boys can make it to the Final Four at least this season!
Now some people might think this prediction is a bit of a cop out and in some regards it is. Most experts have had the Cougars as their favorite to win March Madness for weeks at this point and their record of 17-1 in the AAC (29-2 overall) kind of tells the story why. An 11-0 Away record is also quite simply outrageous. The Cougars have managed to make four straight NCAA Tournaments, for the fifth time in the college’s history. They’ve made the Final Four six times but have yet to lift that trophy!
Now we’ve made our predictions, it’s time to take a look at who the experts in the sportsbooks think will be lifting the trophy on April 3rd. Not only that, we will be listing some of the outsiders that have impressed us this season and the odds you can get on them right now. Unfortunately some schools will be absent from any list of odds you may refer to for your own needs, this is due to gambling laws being different all across America. For example, in Massachusetts you can only bet on colleges who are competing in a major tournament, so if a college from MA is given a place in March Madness, odds will then be made available!
So, if you’re going to be betting on march madness, here are the odds that you can get on the current top 5 teams! In fifth place we have the Arizona Wildcats at +1400, a $5 stake on the Wildcats will return $75! In fourth place we have the Purdue Boilermakers who have odds of +1200, returning $65 from $5! Third place we see the UCLA Bruins on +1000 returning +1000 which would see a return of $55 from $5. Second place is a two-way-tie between the Kansas City Jayhawks and the Alabama Crimson Tide, you can get bothe of these teams at +800 right now which sees a return of $45 from $5. Finally in first place are the Houston Cougars who are at +600 returning $35 from $5!
Now I want to take a look at some of the teams that have been performing well this season who will likely make the big show and could surprise a lot of people. Starting with a team who have huge odds right now, the Florida Atlantic Owls find themselves with odds of +20000! That would see a return of $1005 from $5. The Owls finished the season 28-3 and have currently got a bye into the next round of the Conference USA Championship. One other team that I think might catch some people off guard, purely because their first game in the Big 12 Tournament is against Kansas… But the TCU Horned Frogs are likely going to end up with a slot in March Madness through the vote system. Right now TCU are at +3300 right now returning $170 from $5!
We’ve only really had time to talk about a few teams here today but the list really could go on and on. Let’s get a discussion going, do you folks think that the teams we mentioned here are going to win their conference finals and make it through the automatic bidding process? I have to admit that even if any of these teams don’t make it through the conference finals, I can see them making it through Selection Sunday anyway. Some of these teams are way too important in the college basketball scene to not be included in March Madness!
Now, with March Madness just around the proverbial corner. We want to hear from you! Which teams do you want to see make the big show? What about some predictions, who do you think will be the Final Four? From that, who makes the final and ultimately who lifts the trophy on April 3rd? There is a lot of college basketball still to come before the end of the season and personally, I’m incredibly excited to watch as much as I can physically squeeze in between now and the NCAA Championship Game!