As we inch closer to March Madness, we’re learning more about the teams that are truly capable of winning the title.
That’s certainly the case in Vegas, with Bovada updating its odds to win the championship late Wednesday. In total 48 teams are listed, but which ones are the best bets? We’ve put together a list of seven below.
Understand these aren’t the teams most likely to win the title (if that were the case we’d have Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina on this list) but instead the best bets, the teams with the longest odds that could potentially win the title.
USC Trojans (150-1)
USC is by far the longest of all the long shots on this list. They would need a lot of things to bounce their way, but they do possess enough talent to win a national championship.
We saw that in last week’s 84-76 win over UCLA, where the Trojans held the second-highest scoring team to 16 points below their season average. USC did that without Bennie Boatright, who is now back in their lineup after missing 15 straight games with injury.
Maryland Terrapins (50-1)
The Terps remain one of the biggest surprises in the college basketball season, climbing all the way up to No. 17 in this week’s AP Poll. They are currently tied with Wisconsin atop the Big Ten standings.
The NCAA Tournament is a guard-drive event and few teams will have a better guard on their side than Melo Trimble, who is averaging 17 points and 3.5 assists this season. Could Trimble put together a 2011 Kemba Walker-type performance and put a young team on his back and lead them to a title? At these odds, it feels worth the risk.
Oregon Ducks (25-1)
The Ducks won the Pac-12 regular season and conference tournament titles last year, advanced to the Elite Eight and returned virtually their entire roster. If Dillon Brooks had started the year healthy, it’s likely Oregon would have picked up right where they left off and these odds would be much different for bettors.
But Oregon lost two of their first four games, plunged down the standings and it seems like the folks in Vegas forgot about them. That’s also why getting them at 25-1 is a steal. This number won’t stay like this for long.
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Florida State Seminoles (20-1)
The Seminoles have cooled off a bit, losing two of their last three games. But that doesn’t change what they did throughout January, winning a staggering six-straight games against ranked opponents. If they can beat the likes of Duke, Louisville and Notre Dame in ACC play, there’s no reason they can’t beat similarly talented teams come March.
The biggest precursor to NCAA Tournament success is having high-level NBA talent on your roster and the Seminoles have at least two really good future pros in Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac. Few teams in the country can match that top-two.
Duke Blue Devils (10-1)
Do I think Duke is going to win the title? No. But they obviously have the talent to do so, and just might have finally turned the corner with back-to-back road wins at Wake Forest and Notre Dame.
Duke was a co-favorite in Vegas as recently as a few weeks ago, so if you believe they are good enough to win the title, just on this bet now. If they win a few more games, there’s no way you’ll be able to get them at this price in a few weeks.
Arizona Wildcats (10-1)
Arizona is the hottest team in college basketball. The Wildcats have won 14 games in a row, with their last loss coming way back in early December against Gonzaga (which is still undefeated).
And the crazy part is, Arizona should only get better as the season goes on. Three of the Wildcats' five leading scorers are freshmen and they just got Allonzo Trier back after a season-long suspension. The sky is the limit for this team.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (8-1)
The Zags continue to run through the competition, yet it still seems like the public isn’t taking them all that seriously. At this point everyone just wants to know: Is 2017 the year they finally get to the Final Four?
Not only are they good enough to get there, they’re good enough to win it too. This team is loaded with talent, with two former McDonald’s All-Americans (Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins) and a player who is actually averaging fewer points per game (10.5) this year for the Zags than he did at Cal last season (13.5), in Jordan Matthews.
This team has top-level talent, but because their uniforms don’t say Duke or Carolina, no one takes them seriously. It’s time to change that. They’re one of the best bets in Vegas to win it all right now.