You don’t need to be a fan of college basketball to get excited about the NCAA Championship Tournament. This is truly one of the most special competitions in all sports, and it’s also one where you get the chance to build up your bankroll in a relatively short period of time. Of course, you can only make that money if you make the right picks, and with this tournament looking as though it might be the most wide-open ever, making those right choices is going to be tough.We are going to break down the March Madness betting action into the 4 regions and choose the favorites and dark horses in each, as well as a few smart picks that might make you some money.
Favorites, Dark Horses & Smart Picks for the 2018 NCAA Championship
- Season: 2017–18
- Begins: March 13th
- Ends: April 2nd
- Teams: 68
- TV: CBS, TBS, TNT
- Live Streaming: MM Live
- Finals Venue: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
South RegionThe Virginia Cavaliers are the #1 seed and the team to beat here, thanks in large part to a defense that ended the season as the #1 in the nation. They are both the favorite and the smart pick in this region, but they are not without flaws. They don’t possess the ball a lot, which could be an issue if they run into a hot offense. That said, they are still the team to beat.As far as dark horses go, the Kentucky Wildcats finished the season strong, winning the SEC Championship and rounding into form at just the right time. Arizona and Loyola-Chicago could also be teams to watch in this region.
West RegionXavier is in as the #1 seed here and one of the obvious favorites, but are they the smart pick? I think that label has to go to the North Carolina Tar Heels, the current defending champions. UNC has what looks to be a smooth ride through the early rounds, while Xavier is likely to run into one of the two clear dark horses in this region.Those two teams would be Gonzaga and possibly Missouri. It’s a possibility that the Musketeers would need to beat both those teams before they even get to hook up with UNC. A tough road there.
Midwest RegionThe Kansas Jayhawks are in as the #1 seed in this region but are far from being the favorite in my mind. I think that distinction needs to go to the Duke Blue Devils, a team that always seems to do well when March Madness rolls around. Duke has been installed as the #2 seed.This looks like being one of the more competitive of the 4 regions, and a dark horse team that I really like in here are the Michigan State Spartans. Keep an eye out for Oklahoma, too, especially if Trae Young gets on a roll. New Mexico State might be worth a look as a potential 1st Round upset team over Clemson.
East RegionThe Villanova Wildcats are in as the #1 seed in this section of the bracket, with the Purdue Boilermakers in at #2. Purdue stumbled coming down the stretch in the regular season, which makes them a dark horse in spite of their ranking. Villanova looks like the obvious choice to come out of the East.If there are going to be dark horse teams that might get in their way, they will likely either be the West Virginia Mountaineers or the Florida Gators., both of whom have a legitimate shot at the Elite Eight, in my humble opinion.
Last 10 Teams to Win the NCAA Championship
- 2017: North Carolina
- 2016: Villanova
- 2015: Duke
- 2014: Connecticut
- 2013: Louisville
- 2012: Kentucky
- 2011: Connecticut
- 2010: Duke
- 2009: North Carolina
- 2008: Kansas