Choosing The NCAA Tournament Champion
By: Doug Upstone, www.3dailywinners.com
The field of 68 is set; you like many people have filled out numerous brackets in a variety of pools and it is now time to start breaking down the various first round matchups, looking for edges and spotting those potential early round exits by favorites. Having the benefit of using the point spread helps in many cases and mustering up the courage on money line underdogs is another way to collect hard currency when betting college basketball. But what about the “home run” wager, picking the winner of the NCAA Tournament, which can offer a decent payout depending on the winner.
Even with the large field, most years around six-to-eight teams have legitimate chance of winning six games in a row. Long shots are great; however they don’t bring home the cash betting futures. In the last 13 years only teams seeded 1, 2 or 3 have emerged as champions. Lute Olson’s 1997 Arizona Wildcats were the last team that was not among the top tier of teams as a four-seed. In the 1980’s, we had Danny Manning and the Miracles in 1988 as a sixth-seed and Jim Valvano’s incredible run in 1983 with North Carolina State.
Each year, the litany of ways to select a champion is trotted out. Among the various aspects that are all noteworthy are veteran players, point guard play and defensive shooting percentages. Each in their own right holds value and opens the window to opportunity.
A few years ago, I heard ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes doing a game late in the season and he was talking about what characteristics make up a NCAA champion. I happened to be taping that game and was able to save the information and do the research.
Here is his update list and what has occurred.
• 9 of 10 past champions had a 10 or more games winning streak
• 9 of 13 past champions won their conference tournament
• 21 of 23 past champions had a NBA-quality player 6’8 or taller
• 22 of 23 past champions had a NBA-quality guard
It is important to understand what each of these points mean. First, if a team has a long winning streak of 10 or more, to whatever degree, they are a good team. This season, 21 teams that made the field of 68 have won this many games in a row. Some teams could schedule their way into this many wins consecutively; however in reviewing this list, you see this consists primarily of college basketball squads that ruled their conferences.
Number of consecutive wins: (Note- one team has two such streaks)
24 – Ohio State
20 – San Diego State
18 – Kansas, Syracuse
17 – Utah State
16 – George Mason
15 – Duke, Cincinnati
13 – Texas A&M, Long Island
12 – Belmont
11 – Villanova, Texas, Boston U.
10 – Purdue, Pittsburgh, Princeton, Oakland U., Connecticut, Bucknell, BYU (twice)
From this point we move to conference tournament champions. This is where we can start eliminating teams. Let’s be honest, its obvious Long Island, Belmont, Boston U., Princeton, Oakland U. and Bucknell have no shot at winning six games in a row against this field, thus we can eliminate them from the field.
That leaves us with six teams that met the first and second criteria that would at least in theory have chance to win the championship. Those teams would be Ohio State, San Diego State, Kansas, Utah State, Connecticut and Duke.
The next areas are somewhat subjective, however I watch more college basketball than I care to admit (yes I have a life and a wife) and I went through a number of websites that discuss players with professional potential that are likely to be drafted in the NBA.
Ohio State has Jared Sullinger who is thought to be one of the top power forwards in college basketball and a sure-fire pro. Junior guard William Buford is a potential late second round pick and if he returns for senior season, he should be able to improve his draft stock.
San Diego State has the multi-talented forward Kawhi Leonard who at 6’7 might be a shooting forward or two-guard at the next level. The Aztecs have a number of very good players in forwards Malcolm Thomas and Billy White, however scouts find their games too limited for the NBA and point guard D.J. Gay is 6’0 and lacks explosive quickness.
Kansas has the Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, who will certainly be on NBA rosters when they are finished in Lawrence. Forward Thomas Robinson has the highest ceiling among the Jayhawks frontcourt trio by those judging potential. The guards that have shared the most playing time have little chance of playing in the NBA, however Josh Selby is on everyone’s list as point guard and has suffered injuries and been struck by lack of confidence.
No team in college basketball runs more set plays and does so effectively than Utah State. The Aggies are a very good college team that is well-coached but does not have superior talent.
Connecticut has two solid pro prospects in guard Kemba Walker and forward Alex Oriakhi. The only question about the Huskies is weariness after winning the Big East title in the fashion they did.
While many debate the merits of Kyle Singler to be a quality player in the “League”, he could be a good backup with any number of teams and his lost shooting touch from deep is correctable thru different fundamentals. Nolan Smith is a sure draft pick in the 25-40 range.
While this might be more boring than oatmeal, Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut and Duke are the four teams that meet all four points of this study. While it is more fun to pick a long shot from out of the pack, choosing the right winner is more important.
Doug Upstone is owner of 3DailyWinners.com and ImpactWageringSolutions.com. With numerous documented #1 finishes at various monitoring services over the years, his record speaks for itself, and for his long term professionalism within the sports betting industry.