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By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
We’re at the halfway pole in the race to seeding on the bracket for March Madness, so let’s pause to review those preseason bets we laid down in November. Some were spot on and need no hedge or re-bet, while others need some re-examining. If we’re going to crush our March Madness bracket pools, now is the time to get smart on the college basketball powerhouses and nail some futures.
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Odds to Win 2022-2023 NCAA Championship – Men
With this one, the train is correctly on the tracks for my preseason predictions for who could cut down the nets at the end of it all. The Houston Cougars ARE everything we believed they would be in October, and though they’re not throttling in-conference opponents, they’re chalking up wins and seem to be on the path to a 1 seed in the tournament at the halfway mark. Plus, star guard Marcus Sasser is coming into prime form. As for Texas, here in Austin, the Chris Beard drama is in the rearview, and the Longhorns are displaying the talent to be back in the mix as well.
Preseason Pick(s): Houston +950, Bonus: Texas +2200
January adds: NONE
Wooden Award Odds (2022 Winner = Oscar Tshiebwe)
Admittedly my preseason picks were a swing and a miss here, as both Love’s and Sasser’s odds have plummeted to win player of the year. This category was barnstormed by a 7-foot-4 behemoth at Purdue, Zach Edey. The big man is redefining how Big Ten teams play defense, and his purse size mixed with unique skill allows him to be an even bigger version of Nikola Jokic to college opponents (just a little slower). Barring an in-conference collapse in play from Edey it’s hard to see this going in another direction, but since my original picks were lacking, I’m adding a five-star breakout from Alabama who could make a late run at this one.
Preseason Picks: Caleb Love +1000, Bonus: Marcus Sasser +1300
January Add: Brandon Miller +1000
Odds To Win Conferences
On that note, MIller’s Crimson Tide squad just delivered a huge win in Fayetteville that all but ended my Arkansas bet to win the SEC this season. It’s clearly a two-horse race now between the Tide and the Tennessee Vols…sounds a little like this past football season in the SEC west. This season, however, there is no LSU to sneak in and join the party this regular season. It really is a coin flip who you like as both Bama and the Vols are at +105 odds currently. Too much unfolding off-court drama with the Bama squad to take them at the moment.
Preseason Pick: Arkansas +300
January Add: Tennessee +105
Hand up – this Baylor pick was an absolute FLOP. The Bears have been just a bit short of a hot mess lately and are out of contention to win the Big 12. With that, I have to double down on the Texas Longhorns here who currently sit at +500. It’s perfect odds for a team that’s finding their way right now that has the Chirs Beard drama past them, and the Horns still have TWO head to head games against the Jayhawks who are currently the -170 favorite to win the conference. There’s not much value on Kansas so let’s watch and see down the stretch if they’re built for durability in arguably the deepest conference in the land.
Preseason Pick: Baylor +200
January Add: Texas +500
Although my preseason UNC pick has faltered their way out of the top 25, they still have a fighting chance at the ACC which is currently the most wide-open Power 5 conference for betting. There are five teams in the league that are all better than +650 odds to win, so take your pick here. I’m holding onto the Tar Heels ticket in case they find the magic of last season…but I’ll also add Virginia at +220. I was hesitant earlier this year, but the bully ball, win-in-the-trenches style of the Cavaliers has carried over to this current iteration of the team, and they’ve played their best ball against the top 25 teams. With a good start to ACC play, they should be worth backing, despite how boring they are to watch.
The Pick: UNC +130
January Add: Virginia +220
Similar to our player of the year conversation, if you’re getting on the Zach Edey POY train then you probably like Purdue -115 as a team to win the Big 12. My Illini pick is down but not dead, and I’m still waiting on the Hawkins-Shannon duo to fully formulate there in Champaign. For my re-examine, I’m a bit gun-shy on the Boilermakers but everyone is a couple of games behind at the moment, so it’s hard to find a second suitor in this conference. I’m begrudgingly putting a unit on Purdie because it feels like an imminent outcome.
The Pick: Illinois +470
January Add: Purdue -115
I forecasted this conference perfectly, as UCLA and Arizona have clearly defined themselves as the teams to beat. I still love my Bruins bet and Tyger Campbell just makes me a happy TV viewer when he plays…and that FLOW! Anyways, I’m staying put with the Bruins here and their value has decreased to -190, but they still have two against Arizona later this season.
The Pick: UCLA +150
January Add: NONE
Odds to Win 2022-2023 NCAA Championship – Women
As was the case preseason, South Carolins is still the team to beat on the women’s side. My Longhorns pick is likely dead, but there sits the Stanford Cardinal as the second favorite currently. I’ll revisit this with some women’s bracketology come March to see what Stanford’s path looks like, but in the meantime the one team I’ll add an LSU team also in the SEC that has a month to prepare for facing the Gamecocks.
The Pick: Stanford +400, Texas +1500
January Add: LSU +1100
So much College Hoops coming our way, and so many ways to be a part of the Madness with RYP!