The field of 68 is set, which means the NCAA tournament is nearly upon us. If the two best words in sports are “Game 7” the second best two are “March Madness.” The first four will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday and the first round will be on Thursday and Friday. The tournament is as wide open as ever, which makes things incredibly exciting.
We’ll take a look at who could win it all this year, and where the two New York schools that qualified stand.
Houston and Alabama Are the Two Favorites Entering the Tournament
This year’s tournament has no clear top team, but NY sportsbooks have Houston and Alabama as the favorites. Houston is the number one ranked team in the country, holding a 31-3 record. They coasted through the AAC conference but lost to Memphis in their conference tournament final.
Alabama’s basketball program has faced controversies this year but has still succeeded on the basketball court. They’ve gone 29-5 but have faced a much more difficult schedule than Houston. They’ve also beaten Houston, although that game took place back in December. Freshman Brandon Miller has led the way, averaging nearly 20 points a game on the year.
Kansas Looks to Repeat While Duke Has High Hopes
The Kansas Jayhawks won last year’s title after erasing a 16-point deficit to knock off North Carolina in the National Title game. Kansas has been strong all year after losing talent to the NBA. They finished the year on top in the Big 12 standings but ended up losing to Texas in the Big 12 title game. Kansas has the third-best odds to win this year’s National Championship.
For a large part of the year, the Duke Blue Devils did not look like they’d be National Title contenders. In fact, they were unranked for much of ACC play this year. Jon Scheyer’s team was finally able to get it together towards the end of the year. They finished on a 9-game winning streak and won the ACC tournament. Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach have been the stars of the team. They now have the 13th-best odds to win the National Championship, according to FanDuel.
Two New York Teams In Field of 68
Colgate and Iona are the two New York teams that qualified for the NCAA tournament this year. Colgate is a 15 seed and will head to Des Moines, Iowa, to get their tournament started against Texas on Thursday. Iona, a 13 seed, will be staying in the state when they take on the UConn Huskies from Albany on Friday.
Rutgers ended up being the biggest snub of this year’s tournament. They finished 19-14, after losing to Purdue in the Big 10 tournament quarterfinals. Most experts had the Scarlet Knights making the field, but they’ll instead have to battle it out in the NIT.
Betting Info For Colgate and Iona Matchups, courtesy of FanDuel
|O 146.5 (-115)
|U 146.5 (-105)
|O 143.5 (-110)
|U 143.5 (-110)
Colgate will have a massive test against the Big 12 tournament champions, but Matt Langel’s team has put up a good fight in the NCAA tournament. This includes a 7-point loss to a three-seeded Wisconsin last year in Milwaukee.
Iona, led by legendary college basketball coach, Rick Pitino, could be a popular upset pick this year. After starting the season 13-7, the Gaels have gone on to win 14 straight. Their wins in the conference tournament came in convincing fashion.
Best Betting Odds to Win the 2023 NCAAB National Championship
UCLA is the two seed that’s been given the best odds to win it all. We all remember UCLA’s run from the First Four to the Final Four two years ago. The Bruins still have Jaime Jaquez and Tyger Campbell, each of whom played big roles for the team two years ago.
The Bruins were knocked off that year by the eventual runner-ups, the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga once again put up a strong regular season, going on to win another West Coast conference title. Mark Few’s team will be looking to end their National Championship drought this year. They’ll get things started on Friday when they take on Grand Canyon University.
We’re now within 24 hours of the start of the NCAA tournament. There isn’t a clear front runner but there are great teams. We’ll all find out who the best one is within a matter of weeks.