March Madness odds: Top value bets in the 2019 NCAA Tournament

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The NCAA Tournament selection committee was not kind to Michigan State. | Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

Some look forward to Thanksgiving. Others can’t wait for Christmas or Hanukkah. Me, I count down the days to a different holiday: March Freaking Madness.

And the countdown is officially OVER.

Cue the music. The brackets are out and the dance is about to get underway. All that’s left to do is wait for a Cinderella to show up and steal the show.

Of course, the odds-on favorite to cut down the net is hardly shocking. Duke (+225) looked vulnerable when Zion Williamson tore through shoe (literally) and was sidelined with a knee injury.

But the presumptive national player of the year is back and better than ever, and the recently crowned ACC tourney champs are poised to bring Coach K his sixth career title.

The safe play would be to bet on theBlue Devils to win the whole thing. But safe is boring. Safe is predictable. And March is the time to be anything but.

So, let’s forget about the favorite for a second and turn our attention to the “value.’”

Let’s look at the squads you should be putting your money on — the ones that can win the whole thing AND give you a sweet return on your investment.

Without further ado, I begin with…

Tennessee (+1400)

Tennessee’s last performance was ugly. Like, UGLY ugly, as the Volunteers got shellacked by Auburn to the tune of 84-64 in the SEC title game.

If you were smart, you’d do your best to forget this game ever happen.

The Vols are athletic, well-coached, and they have two-time SEC Player of Year Grant Williams. That is a lethal combination.

The South Region is Tennessee’s for the taking. The same goes for the ‘ship.

Michigan State (+1200)

Sparty got screwed. You know it. I know it. Hell, head coach Tom Izzo knows it. Michigan State deserved better than the No. 2 seed in the East Region.

But don’t let that dissuade you.

The Spartans earned a share of the Big Ten regular season crown, they won the Big Ten tournament, and they took down inner-state rival Michigan three times this year. Izzo will have these Spartans ready to make a run.

Sure, they might not get out of the East. Then again, they might take down Duke and go on to win the whole thing. Both of these scenarios are possible. Either way, at +1200, that’s a bet worth taking.

North Carolina (+800)

The Tar Heels caught a tough draw in the Midwest Region. Fortunately, Roy Williams and company are good enough to handle it.

This is a North Carolina team that put up 86.1 points per game, plays ferocious defense, and goes from to defense to offense faster than any team in the country.

It also took down Duke twice in the regular season and was a Zion put-back away in the ACC semis from making it a clean sweep on the season. That’s no small feat.

A $100 bet on Carolina nets you an $800 profit. “Region of Death” or not, I’m making that bet ALL DAY.

Gonzaga (+600)

Like Tennessee, Gonzaga also took a lopsided L in its conference championship game. And like with Tennessee, you shouldn’t let this one game turn you off.

I continue to marvel at what Mark Few has built at Gonzaga. This year’s squad has further added to his legacy.

The 2018-19 Zags spent much of the year has the No. 1 team in the nation. They led the country in points per game (88.8), were fifth in assists, and finished in the top ten in both offensive rating (124.1 – first) and defensive rating (90.9 – sixth). They also took down Duke in their head-to-head matchup.

Getting through the West Region won’t be a cakewalk. No matter.

Gonzaga’s been a Cinderella. It’s been a perennial bridesmaid. Don’t be surprised if this is the year it finally turns into the bride.

Statistics courtesy of S/R College Basketball. Odds courtesy of BetOnline via OddsShark as of March 18, 2019.

Other teams to consider:

  • Virginia (+550)
  • Kentucky (+1200)
  • Michigan (+1600)
  • Texas Tech (+2000)
  • Auburn (+2500)
  • Florida State (+3300)
  • Iowa State (+4000)
  • Kansas (+5000)

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