With March upon us, that means the entire sports world will soon shift its attention to office pools and betting that revolves around the NCAA Tournament. Even though there are 31 conference tournaments that have to play out and still a few games left in the regular season, we have a substantial amount of evidence to take a look at for the predicted teams that could manage to get one-seeds on Selection Sunday. Here is a look at the four teams that are likely to get those spots and how picking them now could get you ahead of the pack if you think they have what it takes to win it all.
Big Wins: Kansas 67-61; Memphis 77-75; Missouri 68-58; Kentucky 69-59;
Key Loses: Wisconsin 53-59; Connecticut 64-65
The Gators are currently ranked as the top team in the nation. With a 26-2 record and a current 20-game win streak, there is a likelihood that they could get the top seed in the entire tournament. The Gators are led by Casey Prather, who averages 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, Dorian Finney-Smith, 9.3 and 7.1 per game, and Scottie Wilbekin, 13.5 points and 3.9 assists per game. Unlike some of the other big schools, Florida is led by seniors that have experience and a maturity that has been on display during their current streak. They have huge wins over Kansas, Memphis and Kentucky, all of which were ranked at the time they played one another. The two losses on the season came against Wisconsin and Connecticut, who were ranked #20 and #12 respectively when they matched up against one another. The biggest factor for the Gators could be coach Billy Donovan. One of the most respected leaders in college, Donovan has two National Championships to his name and knows how to manage teams when it comes to playing multiple important games over the span of just a few days. The Gators will want to finish the season strong and also have an impressive showing in the SEC Tournament. Even if they don’t win their respected conference tournament, that likely won’t be enough to knock them from a number one seed. However, if they want to solidify themselves with the top spot, winning outright would certainly play in their favor.
Odds: The Gators started out the season at 20/1 to win the National Championship in 2014. But with the stellar season they have had thus far, they now sit at 5/1.
Wichita State Shockers
Big Wins: BYU 75-62; Saint Louis 70-65
Key Loses: None
The Shockers are the only team left in college basketball that remains undefeated. Many people attribute their success to a relatively weak conference and minimal tests before Missouri Valley competition began. However, this is a team led by seniors Cleanthony Early, who leads the teams with 15.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, and Chadrack Lufile, as well as sophomore Ron Baker. These three players were all part of a Shockers team that stormed to the Final Four in the 2013 tournament, only to be narrowly knocked off by the eventual champion Louisville Cardinals. You can’t blame Wichita State for dealing with the cards they were dealt. They can’t help the conference they are in and there were plenty of reports of high profile schools during down the opportunity to play them early in the year. Have they been tested? Not technically since they haven’t played any ranked teams on their schedule. However, they have built up a ton of momentum during this season that current sits unblemished. The debate on Selection Sunday will be whether or not an undefeated team from a mid-major conference deserves the overall top seed. If Florida is able to finish the season without losing and does well in the SEC tournament, it’s likely that spot will go to them. But if they don’t and the Shockers can finish the regular season perfect and win the Missouri Valley Tournament, they will make an incredibly strong case for why they deserve to be number-one overall. However, with the experience they have with their core group of players, it may not matter where they sit as they attempt to make a tournament run like they had last year.
Odds: The Shockers started out the season at 66/1 to win the National Championship in 2014. But with their undefeated season and scorching hot streak, they now sit at 12/1.
Big Wins: Minnesota 75-67; California 92-81; North Carolina 57-48; Duke 91-89; and Pittsburgh twice, 59-54 & 58-56
Key Loses: Boston College 59-62; Duke 60-66
Midway through February, Syracuse was running their own undefeated streak and had a handful of buzzer beaters that some may have believed that fate or luck was on their side. However, the luck soon ran out and they suffered a two-game slipup against Boston College and Duke, which was followed by another scare against Maryland. In their first year in the ACC, there is no discrediting what Syracuse has done this year. Despite this, there is reason for concern considering the amount of close calls that the Orange has had in the last month. Things will get very interesting in the ACC Tournament. If they can win that in just their first year in the conference, they are a lock for a number one seed. But if they see an early exit, that may be enough for them to slip out of the top spot. The Orange are led by CJ Fair, Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant, who are three pivotal players who can pick up the slack if any one of the others is having an off night. No matter what seed they get, the Orange are going to be a tough out in the tournament this year.
Odds: Syracuse started the season at 25/1 to win it all. They currently sit at 15/2, which is second best behind Florida.
Big Wins: San Diego State 69-60; Duke 72-66; Michigan 72-70; UCLA 79-75;
Key Loses: California 58-60; Arizona State 66-69
For the first few months of the NCAA season, the Arizona Wildcats were the number one team in the nation and didn’t experience their first loss until the 1st of February. A month later, the Wildcats now have a mark of 26-2 and sit as the #3 team in the nation behind Florida and Wichita State. The argument against Arizona would be that they have only played one ranked team on the season. However, that one ranked team happened to be #6 Duke, who they beat 72-66. The Wildcats also have a winning margin on the season of 16-points, which ranks among one of the best in the country. Possibly more than any other team on this list, Arizona needs to finish the season strong and have a good, if not great, showing in the Pac-12 Tournament. Even though teams like Duke, Kansas and Louisville have more losses on the season than Arizona, they are all on the doorstep for being considered for a number-one seed. If Arizona has a bad showing in the Pac-12 tourney and any of the aforementioned teams does well, it may be enough to knock the Wildcats out of a top spot. Aaron Gordon is a 6’9” freshman who leads the team in rebounding and is second in scoring, at 7.7 and 11.9 per game.
Odds: The Wildcats entered the season as the #6 team in the country with 16/1 odds, but during their streak at #1, they were as high as 5/1. They currently sit at 11/1 to win it all.
Other teams hoping to get a one- seed and their odds to win:
Duke (8/1); Kansas (8/1); Louisville (12/1); Wisconsin (22/1); Creighton (25/1)