The 2019 edition of March Madness commences on March 19th, culminating with the NCAA men's basketball tournament finals on April 8th in Minneapolis. An untimely injury to Zion Williamson of the Blue Devils appears to open a window of opportunity for elite basketball colleges attempting to upset Duke. Will Zion return to lead the Blue Devils to the promised land or will Gonzaga win their first ever March Madness championship?
March Madness games begin on March 19th with the First Four, which determines the first round of the tournament. Selection Sunday will take place on March 17th, seeding the NCAA March Madness bracket. Most sports betting sites list Duke as prohibitive favorites, mostly because of their NBA-worthy talent.
March Madness Odds
NCAA Tournament Favorites
Duke Blue Devils +190
Nike watched more than a billion in stock value disappear while the Blue Devils lost their once-in-a-generation recruit when Zion Williamson’s shoe blew up on court. The phenom suffered a non-permanent knee injury in the aftermath, which may force him to rest for the remainder of the season to protect his NBA career.
Duke will remain strong favorites to emerge as NCAA Tournament champions because of an immense talent base, including surefire lottery pick RJ Barrett. Barrett has what it takes to lift the Blue Devils without Zion, although Williamson has hinted at a strong desire to “finish what he started”. No March Madness club matches the star power of Duke in 2019.
Gonzaga Bulldogs +800
Gonzaga’s program continues to impress, especially coming out of the WCC. They nearly broke through for their first NCAA championship in 2017, dropping the final game against the Tar Heels. The Bulldogs don’t have the flashiest talent – instead, Gonzaga leverages excellent backcourt play and team cohesion into the type of consistency which most teams can’t achieve.
Virginia Cavaliers +850
This might be the best Cavaliers squad in decades. Virginia’s previous appearance in the Final Four was in 1984 and their best showing this decade was a spot in the Elite Eight in 2016. However, the Cavaliers have dominated the ACC, including a conference tournament win in 2018. As long as their seeding holds up, expect a strong tournament from Virginia.
Kentucky Wildcats +1000
The SEC standings feature the Wildcats clashing with the Vols and LSU at the top of the conference. Nonetheless, Kentucky’s considered a bit of a better bet for March Madness, partly because of the steady, experienced guidance of bench boss John Calipari. As usual, the Wildcats are one of the most talented squads in the NCAA, but they’ll need to elevate teamwork and effort levels to have a shot at victory.
Tennessee Vols +1200
Another strong club from the SEC, Tennessee has battled with Kentucky and LSU for conference dominance, remaining in the hunt late in the season. A good sign for the Vols would be the continued success of the club, despite the struggles of Kyle Alexander. If Kyle manages to regain his early season form, the Vols will be a threat to make the Final Four.
North Carolina Tar Heels +1300
Only two years removed from their sixth NCAA tournament championship, the Tar Heels enter the 2019 March Madness tourney on a hot streak, rising to the top of the ACC. Coby White recently became the first freshman in school history with a trio of 30+ games during a clutch win over Syracuse, providing a dangerous threat from the perimeter that few NCAA teams possess. North Carolina’s a solid value at +1300.
Michigan Wolverines +1300
The Wolverines famous program returned to a high level once again during the 2018-19 NCAA basketball season, but a recent slide has placed the spotlight on a sputtering offense which stalls during vital matches – most recently during a loss against the Spartans. Given the fact that defensive intensity rises during March Madness, Michigan needs to figure out a way to kickstart production soon.
Michigan State Spartans +1400
Michigan State is ranked slightly below Michigan in terms of NCAA March Madness odds, but the Spartans recently took care of the Wolverines during a masterful coaching turn by Tom Izzo. This victory vaulted the Spartans into first place in the Big Ten. Guard play tends to win out during the tournament, and the trio of Zavier Simpson, Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole represents as good a guard threesome as you’ll find in the NCAA.
NCAA March Madness Longshots
Since 1998, only the only seeds outside of the top three to win the tournament were the seventh-ranked UConn in 2014 and fourth-ranked Arizona in 1997. First seeds tend to win more often than not, with two and three seeds scooping the occasional upset victory. The following teams should be considered longshots, with most of the clubs likely to fall below the third seed on Selection Sunday.
- Nevada Wolf Pack +2200
- Kansas Jayhawks +2800
- Texas Tech Red Raiders +4000
- Villanova Wildcats +5000
- Auburn Tigers +5000
- Syracuse Orange +5000
- Iowa State Cyclones +5000
- Marquette +5000
- Purdue Boilermakers +6000
- Mississippi State Bulldogs +6000
- Florida State Seminoles +6000
- Houston +6000
- Virginia Tech Hokies +7000
- Louisville Cardinals +7000
- Nebraska +7000
- Ohio State Buckeyes +8000
- LSU Tigers +8000
- Wisconsin Badgers +8000
- Buffalo +8000
- NC State Wolfpack +9000
- Indiana Hoosiers +10000
- Florida Gators +10000
- Maryland Terrapins +12500
- Arizona State Sun Devils +12500
- Texas Longhorns +12500
March Madness Picks & Predictions
The NCAA March Madness bracket is one of the toughest to ace in the sports betting world, with odds of predicting a perfect bracket around 1 in 9.2 quintillion. Selecting the winner of the NCAA basketball tournament is far less difficult.
For the 2019 edition of the tournament, Duke appear to be slightly overrated. Certainly, R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson are sure-fire NBA players with the potential to transcend into stardom, but March Madness tends to be unkind to many teams stocked with one-and-done talent.
Clubs with experienced college basketball players tend to be underrated. Those who have at least one year of experience alongside returning teammates enjoy an edge in team chemistry. Crucially, single elimination basketball tournaments reward teams with a superb fleet of shooters and point guards.
The greatness of Zion and R.J. have overshadowed the rock-solid program of Gonzaga, a terrific roundball college which has experienced the occasional bout of bad luck. A likely number one seed, Gonzaga won’t bump into serious competition until later on in the tourney, giving them a legitimate shot at breaking through with their first-ever March Madness win.
Pick: Gonzaga +800
How to Watch March Madness 2019
The March Madness schedule runs from March 19th to April 8th, with the finals held at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Officially, the NCAA tournament will be broadcast by CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV, including the option of digital streams.
See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you:
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