While the third-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels will host the fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils on Saturday in a rematch of the best rivalry in college basketball, the second-ranked Virginia Cavaliers have the easiest path to their second consecutive ACC regular-season crown. But the Cavaliers are still not among the top two teams on the March Madness 2019 odds at sportsbooks.
Virginia absolutely dismantled the Syracuse Orange and their vaunted 2-3 zone defense in a 79-53 rout on Monday, connecting on a school-record 18-of-25 three-pointers, the most a Jim Boeheim-coached team has ever surrendered. However, that was not enough to impress oddsmakers, who moved the Cavaliers to the +900 co-third choice (bet $100 to win $900) to take home the title with the sixth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats.
Ahead of them on the March Madness 2019 odds are the favored Blue Devils (+210) and top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs (+800).
North Carolina and the fifth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers follow Virginia at +1100 to win it all, with the seventh-ranked Michigan Wolverines (+1200) and ninth-ranked Michigan State Spartans (+1400) right behind them. So why do the Cavaliers not have better odds to win the 2019 NCAA Tournament? See the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Last year, Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to ever lose to a No. 16 seed in the Big Dance when the UMBC Retrievers pulled off one of the biggest upsets ever with a 74-54 victory in the first round. Bettors will not forget the Cavaliers losing as 20.5-point favorites or other early exits from the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in three of the previous four years. In fact, you have to go all the way to the Ralph Sampson-led team in 1984 to find the last time Virginia made it to the Final Four.
For most of the other top contenders mentioned earlier, Final Four appearances have come much more recently outside of the Volunteers, who have never reached the national semifinals but fell two points short in 2010 as a No. 6 seed in a 70-69 loss to the fifth-seeded Spartans. In 2018, Tennessee lost 63-62 in the second round as a No. 3 seed to last season’s Cinderella – the 11th-seeded Loyola Ramblers.
Speaking of the Ramblers, they are listed at +30000 this year heading into the Missouri Valley Tournament, where they are the defending champions and the top seed again. Loyola is obviously on the opposite end of the spectrum as the longest shot on the board but also does have the experience of last season’s Final Four run to learn from.
Underdog players who are looking for this year’s Loyola may be hard-pressed to find one right now and would be much better off waiting until the conference tournaments are over and the brackets are finally released on March 17. There is nothing worse than wagering on a school to win the Big Dance and then end up not getting an invitation.
There are some teams though that offer some value right now because they should get into the NCAA Tournament with at-large bids regardless of how they finish leading up to it. They include the Orange (+8000), Kansas State Wildcats (+8000), Maryland Terrapins (+10000) and Washington Huskies (+12500).
While it would indeed be surprising to see Syracuse, Kansas State, Maryland or Washington win it all on April 1, all of them have the potential to make it to the Final Four where anything can happen.
Hedging opportunities could also turn out to be quite profitable with some longshots like that, so it never hurts to look for a few ugly frogs in the field and bet on them on the March Madness 2019 odds even if they do not turn out to be Prince Charming. There are two constants in every Big Dance: upsets happen every year, and only one team cuts down the nets.