We are 5 weeks away from the start of March Madness and it is time to start thinking about who will get the top seeds in the NCAA Big Dance! There are numerous teams that are candidates for securing the top 4 seeds in the bracket and a lot will depend on what happens in the various conference tournaments but overall, we have a good baseline for who is in contention for the #1 seeds in the NCAA Big Dance!
The Villanova Wildcats are 22-1 and are the #1 team in the country. They have gone 9-1 in the BIG EAST, with their only loss coming against the Butler Bulldogs. The Wildcats will get a chance to redeem that loss on February 10, when they host Butler in Villanova. The Wildcats have 8 games left in the regular season, which they are split with 4 at home and 4 on the road.
The Wildcats have the 3rd ranked offense in the NCAA and are averaging 88.4 points per game. They are led by a talented set of Juniors in Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges and this team can get up and down the court. They have battled their way through a tough BIG East Conference and now set their sites on the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The only way I don’t see the Wildcats securing the #1 seed is if they have a meltdown or have an early exit in the BIG East Tournament. Villanova is 5/1 to win the NCAA National Championship, which puts them as the overall favorite in the BIG DANCE!
The Virginia Cavaliers have the key factor in winning a national championship, a GREAT DEFENSE! The Cavaliers are ranked #1 in the NCAA in defense and are holding teams to just 52.3 points per game. In the NCAA Tournament, that will be a huge factor and benefit for the Cavaliers due to the fact if teams can’t score above 50 points, it is highly unlikely they will be able to remain competitive in the BIG Dance.
Virginia is coming off a record setting day where they held Syracuse to an all time low 44 points at the Carrier Dome. No team this year has scored more than 68 points this year on the Cavaliers! Simply put, the Cavaliers are very difficult to score on and that leads to large victories for the Wahoos! Virginia is the second choice to win the National Championship at 11/2.
The Purdue Boilermakers are a very interesting team. They are mutually tough on offense and on defense and have size on the inside to force teams to shoot from the perimeter. They are ranked 20th on offense in D-1 and 1st in the BIG TEN with 84 points per game. On defense, they are a tad bit higher at 18th overall in D-1 and are 3rd in the BIG TEN.
When I say they have size, we mean they have SIZE! They have two guys on the team that are 7’02 and 7’03. Senior Center Isaac Haas is seven foot two inches tall and is as talented inside the paint as anyone on the court. He has shadowed by seven foot three inch Matt Haarms, who is a freshman and between the two of them, make it nearly impossible to come inside the paint. The Boilermakers are 8/1 to win the NCAA National Championship and one of the best values on the board.
Xavier is another team that must be watched and if they can get that #1 seed, they will be tough to get out of the final four. They are led by Trevon Bluiett, who came back to make a statement and give the team one more shot at a National Championship. Bluiett was expected to be a high draft pick last year but remained in college for one more year to secure a title!
Xavier is 22-3 on the year, with their 3 losses coming against Arizona State when they were undefeated and rolling through teams, Providence and Villanova. All three of those losses were on the road and another interesting factor is they are undefeated this year in overtime, showing they are stable and able to hold on when the pressure comes on! Xavier is currently 20/1 to win the NCAA National Championship, which is absolutely absurd knowing the caliber of talent this team has on the roster!
The Michigan State Spartans are riding a 7 game win streak and are catching momentum at the right time. They are 23-3 overall this year and are currently 3rd in the BIG TEN with a 11-2 conference record. Their three losses were against Duke, Ohio State and Michigan, which are three tournament teams.
The Spartans are a young team, with mostly sophomores making up the team. They are led by Miles Bridges, who is a talented 6’7 F that is averaging 17.7 points per game. The Spartans are currently the third choice to win the National Championship at 13/2 and could be worth a few bucks due to Coach Izzo’s experience in the BIG DANCE!
Who Are Some Of The Outside Shots?
As we said earlier, there is still a ton of things that can happen between now and next month but for the most part, the above five teams are going to be in contention for the top 4 seeds in March Madness. There are some other outside shots such as Duke, Kansas and potentially Auburn, that could throw a question mark into the equation.
Duke is 19-4 and sort of get a nod of credit simply for the namesake and the experience. They are a talented team that is loaded with scorers. They have the top ranked offense in D-1 and if they can get back on the winning track, and a few of these teams above catch a few losses, the Blue Devils may find themselves right in the heart of the #1 seed.
Kansas is another team that has an outside shot at sneaking into the #1 seed in the tournament. They are the top team in the tough BIG 12 and sport a 19-5 overall record. They will definitely need some help but there is without a doubt they could back door a few teams if they run the table.
Probably the longest shot of all the teams we’ve listed to get a #1 seed would be Auburn. The Tigers are 21-2 and people are starting to pay attention to this team. They are #1 in the SEC and come in at great value at 40/1 to win the NCAA National Championship. Putting the Tigers at 40/1 is absolutely absurd and a big risk to basketball sportsbooks!