The Virginia Cavaliers picked up a big win over the North Carolina Tar Heels on Monday night to back up their status as the +800 third choice on the 2019 NCAA Tournament odds at sportsbooks.
After getting swept by the second-ranked Duke Blue Devils at home on Saturday, the fourth-ranked Cavaliers had another tough test in ACC play on the road Monday versus the eighth-ranked Tar Heels. But instead of losing for the second time in as many games, they won by a score of 69-61.
Only Duke (+170) and the top-ranked Tennessee Volunteers (+750) have better 2019 NCAA Tournament odds than Virginia. The biggest question for the Cavaliers is whether or not they can get over last year’s stunning first-round upset in the Big Dance as the first No. 1 seed ever to lose that early in the tournament.
Virginia’s defense remains as good as any team in the country, and that was backed up in holding North Carolina to a season-low point total.
Despite that loss, the Tar Heels are also still in contention for the national championship at +2400 as one of five more ACC schools with odds of +8500 or lower on the college basketball odds for March Madness at the Bovada Sportsbook along with the unranked Syracuse Orange (+5000), 22nd-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies (+6600), 16th-ranked Louisville Cardinals (+8000) and 17th-ranked Florida State Seminoles (+8500).
The Big Ten is next with four teams in that range, including the sixth-ranked Michigan Wolverines (+850), 11th-ranked Michigan State Spartans (+1100), 12th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers (+5000) and 20th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers (+8000).
The 21st-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes are another Big Ten team to watch as a potential sleeper at +12500 on the 2019 March Madness odds because they have a favorable schedule down the stretch of the regular season. The Hawkeyes play four of their last seven games on the road, but only one is against a ranked opponent in the Badgers. They also play the Rutgers Scarlet Knights twice and host the 24th-ranked Maryland Terrapins (+12500) on February 19.
One of the biggest games of the season though will take place this Saturday when the Volunteers visit the fifth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats in an SEC showdown. The Wildcats sit as the co-fourth choice to win it all with the Wolverines at +850 on the 2019 NCAA Tournament odds.
The Volunteers host the South Carolina Gamecocks on Wednesday before traveling to Lexington. LSU and the Mississippi State Bulldogs are both +10000 on the March Madness odds while the underachieving Auburn Tigers are further up the betting board at +5500.
Two smaller schools to keep an eye on that reside in the Top 10 are the third-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs and seventh-ranked Nevada Wolf Pack. With just three losses between them heading into Thursday’s action, the Bulldogs (+900) and Wolf Pack (+2000) deserve to be mentioned among the favorites even though their schedules have left a lot to be desired.
Gonzaga and Nevada each look better than any team in the Pac-12 right now, as the top schools on the 2019 NCAA Tournament odds board from that conference are the Oregon Ducks (+10000), Arizona State Sun Devils (+12500), Washington Huskies (+15000) and Arizona Wildcats (+15000). Washington leads the Pac-12 at 10-1.
The 14th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks are one more top contender worth mentioning at +1600. The Jayhawks have dominated the Big 12 for more than a decade with 14 consecutive regular-season conference championships, but that streak might come to an end this year.
Kansas is battling the 15th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders (+5500), 23rd-ranked Iowa State Cyclones (+7000) and 18th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats (+9000) for the title, with the latter two already handing them a loss in conference play.