It’s the most wonderful time of the year—not the holidays, March Madness. Gambler’s paradise. The holy grail of sports betting. The time of year where sports fans can come together and rejoice with 67 games being played over the next three weeks. There is more to do than just watch them, as arguably the biggest part of this tournament is attempting to predict all of the games in the bracket challenge.
Unfortunately for all of our Crimson athletes, filling out a bracket for March Madness is a prohibited activity by the NCAA. Instead, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the show while the rest of us sweat out first round games like St. Mary’s (+4500) vs. VCU (+45000) or Memphis (+10000) vs FAU (+13000).
Every year, millions attempt to be the first to correctly predict the results of every single game of the NCAA basketball tournament. The odds of this are extremely small, as there are 9.2 quintillion possible outcomes. In other words, it’s near impossible. However unlikely this may be, we all delude ourselves that this year is our year and try our hands at becoming the first. With that in mind, here are some things to think about while selecting your bracket.
Unfortunately, our Harvard Men’s Basketball team was unable to win the Ivy League and receive an automatic bid to the tournament. This year, the honors fall to Princeton after they knocked off Yale 74-65 in the title game. The Tigers (+50000) enter the tournament as a #15 seed and face a tough first round matchup against Arizona (+1500). #2 seeds have a win percentage of 93.2% against #15 seeds, so it is definitely a long shot for an Ivy League first round win, but wilder things have happened so keep an eye on that matchup.
A #1 seed has won the big dance more times than not, so it is a safe bet to have them going far. However, all four #1 Seeds have only made the final four once, when in 2008 Kansas, Memphis, UNC, and UCLA all made the final four. Using this information, let’s look at which #1 seed is most likely to lose first.
Here at Indy Sportsbook we think Purdue will be the first to fall short. The Boilermakers (+1200) are led by one of the nations best in Zach Edey, however their team success as whole is largely dependent on his performance. One bad game from Edey could spell trouble for the team. Additionally, their schedule does them no favors. Facing potential matchups against Memphis, and Duke (+3000) or Tennessee (+2500) just to make the Elite Eight, Purdue is not a team you want to bet on.
As you are making your selections, remember that no team ranked worse than 8th has won the tournament (#1 24 times, #2 five times, #3 four times, and #4, #6, #7, and #8 one time each), and the 5th seed has never won once. Additionally, UCONN with +10000 odds is the team with the longest odds to ever win, so I would have to advise against choosing Vermont (+50000) or Northern Kentucky (+50000) as your champion. For the teams that are favored to win the tournament, here are a few you you would be wise to consider:
Kansas (+800). Kansas is a 1 seed for a reason. With the hardest strength of schedule, and the most wins ranked in Quadrant 1, Kansas has proven throughout the season that they can compete at the highest level, so expect them to be in contention.
Alabama (+800). Seeded as the overall #1, Alabama comes in as the tournament favorites. Winning the SEC tournament with ease, the Crimson Tide arrive with momentum. Led by freshman phenom Brandon Miller, this is a team that you should expect to make a deep run.
UCLA (+1200). While UCLA just lost the Pac-12 championship game, they remain one of the teams to beat. Jaime Jaquez (17.3 ppg and 8.1 rpg) will be instrumental to their success, and the Bruins will be looking to replicate their 2021 final four appearance.
While those are some teams who look destined for the championship, here are some of the teams that may cause some upsets in the tournament.
Duke (+3000). Duke is currently a popular choice to have tournament success, with many predicting another final four performance from the Blue Devils. However, the Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts University (+50000) may have something to say about that
Miami (+7500) : Miami enter as a 5 seed, however some experts consider them to be overrated. They are 2-2 in their last four games, with the two victories being unconvincing wins over Pittsburgh and Wake Forest. With Norchad Omier potentially missing time with an ankle injury, the perfect storm may not be brewing for the Hurricanes.
Baylor (+2500) : Baylor just doesn’t have quite the same level of quality that they have had in the past, especially on defense where they have struggled for consistency this season. They face a tricky first round team in UC Santa Barbara (+50000) who shoot 49.3%, and could crash out of the tournament earlier than expected.
After looking at some higher ranked seeds that are expected to do well (or not so well), here are some lower ranked teams that could put together a Cinderella run.
Memphis (+10000). All the teams in the East should be wary of the threat Memphis poses. Houston come into the tournament as the odds on favorite (+500), and yet the Memphis Tigers just beat them by 10 in the AAC championship game, showing Memphis’s ability to match up against any team. If they progress past FAU they face a beatable Purdue team, giving Memphis a real chance at the Sweet Sixteen.
TCU (+4000). Placed at the six seed, the Horned Frogs can put together a college football-esque run and make it far in the tourney. Evidenced by wins over Kansas (#1 seed), Texas (#2), Baylor (#3), and Kansas State (#3), this team can compete with just about anybody, so look for them to make some waves in the latter rounds.
Furman (+50000). Furman enters March Madness for the first time in 43 years, and they aren’t just here for appearances. According to Kenpom, Virginia (+6000) is one of the most overrated teams in the tournament (by seed vs ranking), and Furman could look to take advantage of this matchup and pull out a first round win.
While I pretend to be a bracketology expert, there is a reason there has never been a perfect bracket—when the tournament begins, all expectations should go right out the door, and everyone should make like the athletes and enjoy the show.
If you are feeling uninspired and don’t know who to pick, here is one of the many brackets that I have filled out.
Andrew Christie ’26 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is hoping that this year he will finally win the bracket group with his friends.
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