Dark Horse Picks To Win the 2016 College Hoops National Championship

Posted by Joe Solari on February 3, 2016 in

We all love to bet on College Basketball underdogs, sometimes even against our better judgment which leads to burnt fingers. That’s just how true sportsbetting enthusiasts are wired to be. But every so often, our love for betting underdogs is vindicated with good payouts, the type of money Carolina fans have enjoyed this year when backing their Panthers in the NFL. College basketball betting can be just as rewarding. Take last year, for instance, when the Duke Blue Devils stunned the favored Kentucky Wildcats in the National Championship to claim the country’s golden NCAAB prize. And if the NCAA basketball season so far is anything to go by, then we could be ending up with an All-Sleepers affair in the 2016 National Hoops Game.

I mean, Oklahoma is hot and all, North Carolina is still a worthy betting favorite, while the likes of Villanova, Iowa, Maryland and Kansas look the part of being able to go the distance in the NCAA Tournament as favorite NCAAB picks. But then again, we also have dark horses like Michigan State, Texas A&M and Louisville—to mention a few—who are just as capable of pushing their way deep into the Big Dance, giving themselves a chance to win the nation’s top college basketball honors. It is this latter set of teams that we are most concerned with in the write-up given below.

Which Dark Horses Have The Best NCAAB Championship Betting Odds?

Virginia (+1600)

While Tony Bennett’s Cavs are never known to be a strong shooting team, they are one of the best defensive and strong rebounding teams in the nation, two elements that are capable of catapulting anyone to the national title. Even more notably, after starting the season rather shyly, the Cavs are seemingly picking up steam and getting better at winning, which has seen them climb up in the national rankings. Ahead of Wednesday’s games, the Cavs are boasting of four straight wins in their last four games, including a big win over the highly-rated Louisville. If the Cavs can continue to record such wins and get their offense heated up in time for the NCAAB Tournament, Virginia could be a sweet value to win it all this year.

Louisville (+1600)

With so much uncertainty in the Big 12, three of ESPN’s pre-season top 10 teams — Kentucky, Duke and Wichita State — already down the list, and UNC already showing that is beatable (courtesy of Monday’s loss to the Cards; there is a big opportunity for Louisville program to spring into action amidst all the chaos. After all, this is a team that has won three national championships (1980, 1986 and 2013), and did so without dominant teams. Therefore, whereas Louisville still lacks defensive quickness, this year’s team is definitely taller and more physical, featuring improving big men that could make up for that lack. Added to their solid offense, it would be a big mistake to underestimate a highly motivated Rick Pitino, thriving on adversity, to lead his team into something special in the Tournament.

West Virginia (+3300)

Known for their impressive high-pressure defense and ability to hit the boards incessantly, the Mountaineers are looking like a team worthy of making a deep run in the Tournament. I know that only two Big 12 teams made it to the Sweet 16 last season, and zero marched to the Elite 8. But this is a WVU team that has shown tons of potential to hang with the big boys, including their recent 81-76 win over No. 13 Iowa State. Not to mention, West Virginia is yet to lose to a team outside the RPI Top 25 and, with a favorable Big 12 schedule ahead of them, there is a metric ton of opportunities for them to surge higher while they work on their few mistakes. And as far as star talent is concerned, we’ve all seen what the likes of Devin Williams and Jonathan Holton are capable of doing, something that should be able to push the team into greater heights, especially if it can stay healthy and together.

Texas A&M (+1400)

Given the way the Aggies are taking care of the ball in the SEC and looking like they will outlast Kentucky in the conference to claim a first SEC Title, I must say that I totally love Texas A&M’s chances of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. None of their three losses so far is particularly awful, and if the players can continue to gel in readiness for a top-seed berth in the Tournament, Texas fans may just have something really huge to smile about at the end of the season. And did I mention that the Aggies are still undefeated at home this far into the season? Well, there’s that appeal too.

Oregon (+4000)

While Arizona, California and Washington are the Pac-12 teams everyone seems to be talking about, I have been more impressed by what the Ducks have been doing, including recording quality wins like the 83-75 win @ Arizona; 74-67 win vs. Baylor; and 73-67 win vs. Valparaiso. Because of these victories, the Ducks are not only swimming with the big fish in the top-tier computer rankings (both RPI and SOS), but they also have a very realistic shot of winning the Pac-12 conference, possibly even with a No. 1 seed at the end of the regular season. And yes, although the Pac-12 hasn’t produced a Final Four team since 2008, I have seen enough underdog surprises this season to believe that Oregon (or anyone in the trio of Cal, Washington and Zona) could be able to break this record, maybe even going all the way to win the National title.

Other Solid Dark Horse Teams: Purdue, Providence, Iowa State, Miami Hurricanes, Arizona,
California, Indiana.