Early March Madness Betting Predictions

Posted by Joe Solari on Thursday,February 4, 2016 7:26, EST in

With the 2016 March Madness continuing to draw dauntingly closer, we’ve decided to take a randomized sweeping look at a number of title-contending teams and what can be expected of them after Selection Sunday. As is always the case around early February, you will find some teams that have underperformed, but are likely to finish the season strongly, while others that have outperformed in the NCAAB odds are also likely to find themselves scaled down when the heat of conference games proves unbearable. Not to mention, for the first time since 1948-49, five No. 1 teams have lost their hierarchy status before February, so no one is seemingly going to run the table like last year’s Kentucky Wildcats dominated the NCAAB lines from the preseason to the Final Four. Keeping all that in mind, the NCAA Tournament betting analysis below should thus be taken with a pinch of salt.

Early March Madness Betting Predictions

Best of the Best: Current Top 4

Oklahoma Sooners
No doubt, the #1 Sooners have largely exceeded expectations to be this highly ranked in February. But then again, what else would you expect from a team with the top Player of the Year candidate in Buddy Hield? It remains to be seen if OU can continue to win and do so convincingly, but from the current look of things, everything should just be fine. Hield is a key player and the fact that he is hitting over 50 percent of field goals and three will be key for his team’s success. But even if Hield isn’t lights out, the Sooners have enough talent to go around. I mean, this is team that is shooting over 46 percent from 3-point land and is one pace to break the record set by the 2012 Northern Colorado team that is the only team to finish its season with more than 45 percent of its 3’s. With that, standing the test of time shouldn’t be a big deal for this all-rounded team that is hell-bent on making history. March Madness Prediction: Possible Finalists in the NCAA Championship Game, Reaches Final Four at the Bare Minimum.

North Carolina Tar Heels
To no one’s surprise, Roy Williams’ North Carolina is the consensus favorite to win the Big Dance title in April, going by the latest NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship odds. The #2 Tar Heels held the top-ranking in the nation through the first full month of the non-conference schedule, but lost at Northern Iowa, which saw them relinquish their spot atop the polls. After that, the Heels bounced back but again suffered a defeat to Shaka Smart’s Texas Longhorns, followed by another recent defeat at the Yum in Louisville by Rick Pitino’s Cardinals. The three losses have seen an increasing number of pundits start to question UNC’s March Madness credentials, with several criticisms coming against North Carolina’s starting five that has, for a while, been regarded as the best in college hoops. That said, RPI breakdowns and conference standings have Roy’s Boys in safety with a strong résumé for the Big Dance, which currently includes a win over the current Maryland and a stellar 8-1 record against KenPom.com top-100 teams. That should be able to see the Tar Heels earn a top-seed in March Madness, unless they continue to dwindle down with more losses down the stretch. March Madness Prediction: Safe to Reaches at least the Final Four.

Villanova Wildcats
Are obviously a good team, but I’ve repeatedly seen them choke when it matters most in the Big Dance, so I won’t waste my breath on them. My best advice is; keep off, if you know what’s good for you. March Madness Prediction: Will be bundled out of the Tournament in the Last 16.

Maryland Terrapins
Despite suffering loss to UNC, and a respectable one at that, and also getting another setback in the form of a defeat to the Michigan State Spartans, the Terps have bounced back quite well, starting with the hard-earned victory over the #3 Iowa that preserved their undefeated home record. Since then, the Terps have recorded two more road wins, with the likes of Melo Trimble and Jake Layman shining for the three-loss Terrapins. Assessing the team, Maryland’s savvy outside size on inside should set them up nicely not only for the remainder of the season, but for the March Madness as well. It, however, remains to be seen if the Terps will be able to handle Big-man teams down the stretch of the season. A good way to assess that would be to watch their game against the physical Boilermakers this weekend. March Madness Prediction: Reaches the Final Eight and suffer an upset loss.

 

A Look at the Remaining Top-10 Teams

#5 Iowa: I haven’t been keenly following their on-goings, which probably means they’ll be really good when I start watching and supporting them in the Tourney. March Madness Prediction: Makes it to the Final Four.

#6 Xavier: The Musketeers own the best winning percentage in the country, and have been perennial strong contenders, making them a must-watch team in the Dance. March Madness Prediction: Reaches at Least the Final Eight, with the Possibility of Doing Even Better.

#7 Kansas: Ridiculously good with home advantage and have a good coach with a history of succeeding in the Big Dance. March Madness Prediction: Definitely a Final Eight team.

#8 Texas A&M: Will win the SEC title for first time in school’s history, but struggle to cope with the pressure of the Tourney: March Madness Prediction: Loses in first Big Dance game.

#9 Virginia: Defense, Defense, Defense! (See the 63-47 road win over Louisville for reference). Also undefeated at home. March Madness Prediction: Round of 16 Material.

#10 Michigan State: DENZEL VALENTINE. PERIOD! March Madness Prediction: Repeats Last year’s Feat with Coach Tom Izzo by Reaching the Final Four.

Unranked But Good to Go The Distance

Gonzaga: Have the star power of Kyle Wiltjer, a preseason All-American, and forward Domantas Sabonis, and have made 17 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament, often staying on their feet for a while when in the Dance Floor. March Madness Prediction: Surprises with a Final Eight appearance.

Ohio State: Have 14 wins already and are tied for sixth in the Big Ten with Michigan State. If they can win test against Wisconsin on the Kohl Center, they’d be rejuvenated to fight for a Tourney spot and play their hearts out to prove worth. March Madness Prediction: Reaches Round of 16.

Duke: Amile Jefferson will return just in time to help Coach K’s team to turnaround their middle-of-the-pack ACC status. And once in the Tournament, the Devil in Duke will take over with an evil genius that takes them at least to the Final Eight. March Madness Prediction: Final Eight it is!

Cinderella Schools (Outside the Power Five)
Forgetting about the Cinderella schools that will have their fate decided by invitation by the selection committee in March, the following mid-to-lower majors look the part of being able to earn automatic bid into the Big Dance: Stony Brook (America East), Montana (Big Sky), North Florida (Atlantic Sun), UC Irvine (Big West), UNC-Asheville (Big South), Hofstra (CAA), Valparaiso (Horizon), UAB (CUSA), Yale (Ivy), Akron (Mid-American), Monmouth (MAAC) and Hampton (MEAC), among others!!!

 

Final Remarks

Keep away from the following schools that have been banned from participating in the NCAA Championship or any type of conference tournaments: Alcorn State (SWAC), Cal-State Northridge (Big West), Central Arkansas (Southland), Florida A&M (MEAC), Missouri (SEC), SMU (AAC), Pacific (WCC), Southern Miss (C-USA), Stetson (Atlantic Sun).