2023 NCAA Tournament Bracket Picks: Expert Predicts Every Game, Last Minute Advice

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: The March Madness logo, including part of a 2023 NCAA Tournament bracket, as our expert makes his picks for every game of the 2023 NCAA Tournament to fill out your bracket.

UPDATE: For the most up-to-date 2023 NCAA Tournament bracket picks and analysis, check out our 2023 NCAA Tournament: Second Round Odds, Expert Picks for Every Game Saturday.

It's officially time for the 2023 NCAA Tournament bracket to start being played out!

And if you waited until the last minute, we were here to help with my 2023 NCAA Tournament Bracket picks, as I made my expert predictions for every game based on our projections, from the first round to the championship — now with links to each of our in-depth breakdowns and betting guides for every 2023 NCAA Tournament first-round game.

While you're here, since the tournament has started, check out our best bets for the early Thursday slate in NCAA Tournament Odds, Picks: 5 Early Thursday Best Bets for Missouri vs. Utah State & More.

Every year, my goal with this NCAA bracket breakdown is to give users the tools and strategies necessary to create a winning NCAA Tournament March Madness bracket by walking through my decision-making process on every game of the tournament.

There are two variables I consider before picking a team to advance in this NCAA Tournament bracket:

  1. My projected odds of that team advancing through each round based on results of 10,000 simulations run using my custom team ratings.
  2. The average percentage of users who have that team advancing on ESPN and Yahoo!

With those two factors, I create a leverage score for every team to get a sense of who the market is either overrating or underrating. The goal is to maximize our leverage score throughout building a bracket.

(my projected odds) – (% of users) = leverage

Now, that doesn't mean I'm blindly letting leverage score make my pick for every game. I'm also factoring in the likelihood of an outcome. There will be times when I take a team with a negative leverage score, which I'll explain in my breakdown.

And finally, I created a downloadable March Madness Bracket Builder so you can tailor your own bracket while still using my leverage scores and general strategies in order to create a bracket that makes the most sense for your pool(s). You can click here to skip to a brief guide on how to use the builder.

Enough chatter. Let's get into the 2023 NCAA Tournament bracket and my picks now that the field of 64 is set.

2023 NCAA Tournament Bracket Picks: Expert Predicts Every Game

Note: I will post my final bracket later on Wednesday, but I wouldn't be surprised if nothing changes. I walk through many scenarios below — although there's one key injury that could change things.

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South
East
Midwest
West
Final Four

South

Round of 64

No. 1 Alabama over No. 16 Texas A&M Corpus Christi

It didn't matter who Alabama would face.

For more betting analysis, head over to Texas A&M-CC vs Alabama Odds, Picks: First-Half Play to Make.

No. 9 West Virginia over No. 8 Maryland

West Virginia is a 2.5-point favorite, but 51% of brackets are taking Maryland.

No. 5 San Diego State over No. 12 Charleston

Everyone loves taking the No. 12 seeds, so naturally 32% of brackets have Charleston pulling off the upset here. I'll take the favorite in SDSU, though, since I think we're getting more value in taking another upset in this region (see the game directly below this one).

The matchup favors the Aztecs. Charleston attempts 3-point shots at the ninth-highest rate in the country, and San Diego State's 29% 3-point defense is the seventh-lowest in the nation.

For more betting analysis, head over to Charleston vs San Diego State Odds, Picks: Back the Aztecs.

No. 13 Furman over No. 4 Virginia

Only 14% of brackets are taking Furman. With a 28% win probability, I think this is a great spot to go with an upset.

Furman is a great shooting team that can attack Virginia's 3-point-funnel defense. Also, the Cavaliers play at one of the slowest paces in the country, which lowers the number of possessions and could slightly increase the chances of an inferior team coming out on top.

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No. 6 Creighton over No. 11 NC State

I'm pretty much in line with the market here and am not going to get cute by picking an upset. Creighton is an excellent six seed that will offer quite a bit of leverage in future rounds.

No. 3 Baylor over No. 14 UC-Santa Barbara

This is a fairly easy opening matchup for the Bears, who are going to be a good team to fade in the next round.

For more betting analysis, head over to UC Santa Barbara vs. Baylor Odds, Picks | NCAA Tournament Betting Guide (Friday, Mar. 17).

No. 10 Utah State over No. 7 Missouri

Utah State are slight betting favorites here, but 62% of brackets have Missouri advancing. I don't think Utah State is a lock, but this is roughly a coin flip so I'm not going to pass on a juicy +21% leverage score.

For more betting analysis, head over to NCAA Tournament Betting Guide for Utah State vs Missouri.

No. 2 Arizona over No. 15 Princeton

No need to overthink this one.

For more betting analysis, head over to Princeton vs Arizona Odds & Picks: How to Bet This First-Round Tilt.

Round of 32

No. 1 Alabama over No. 9 West Virginia

A whopping 89% of brackets have Alabama in the Sweet 16. I give the Crimson Tide a 75% chance to reach that round, which is a -14% leverage score. However, I don't think this is the spot to take that big of a risk.

No. 5 San Diego State over No. 13 Furman

In a perfect world, this is the matchup we'll get and the Aztecs have a pretty easy matchup. The most likely scenario is SDSU vs. Virginia, in which I'd have the Aztecs as a one-point favorite. Ultimately, this is simply a bet on San Diego State making the Sweet 16.

I'm giving the Aztecs a 43% chance to make the Sweet 16, while only 26% of brackets have them there. That gives us a whopping +17% leverage score.

No. 6 Creighton over No. 3 Baylor

This matchup would essentially be a coin flip, with Baylor favored by 1-3 points.

Only 25% of brackets have Creighton in the Sweet 16, which gives us a +11% leverage score with my 36% projection.

No. 2 Arizona over No. 10 Utah State

Arizona would only be favored by 5-7 points in this matchup. The market is definitely underestimating Utah State's chances of advancing, but I'm going to play it safe and take the Wildcats.

We should get enough leverage from taking Utah State to win its Round of 64 matchup and fading Arizona in the next round.

Sweet 16

No. 1 Alabama over No. 5 San Diego State

The 77% of brackets with Alabama advancing here is way too high. I have the Tide reaching the Elite Eight around 58% of the time, while the betting market has it closer to 50/50.

If you're in a massive pool and really want to set yourself apart, it would be sharp to have San Diego State (or either West Virginia or Virginia) advancing here. Having Alabama get knocked out early will give you a massive leg up on the field.

For now, I'm going with Alabama to advance. My strategy is to account for the potential leverage along with the actual chances of a team advancing. Since Alabama has a fairly easy path in its region, I'm going to stick with the No. 1 seed in my main bracket.

No. 6 Creighton over No. 2 Arizona

Arizona would only be favored by 2-3 points here. Creighton is an excellent No. 6 seed that ranks in the top 30 of KenPom's offensive and defensive efficiency.

Only 9% of brackets will have the Bluejays advancing here, but I'm giving them a 19% chance of doing so.

Having Creighton advance to your Elite 8 is one way to spice up the South Region — and do so with a very good team.

Elite 8

No. 1 Alabama over No. 6 Creighton

Once again, the decision to knock out Alabama depends on how much risk you want to take on in this region compared to the rest of your bracket. I already have higher seeds advancing to the Final Four in other regions, so I'm deciding to go with the more likely outcome here.

Alabama has a pretty easy path to the Final Four. If you want to be safer in other regions, then having Alabama get knocked out early will give you a leg up on competition if it suffers an upset loss.

The Tide will likely be favored by 6-8 points in every game they play after the Round of 64, which makes them comfortable favorites but certainly not a lock.


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East

Round of 64

No. 1 Purdue over No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson

It didn't matter which team Purdue would face.

No. 9 Florida Atlantic over No. 8 Memphis

A whopping 71% of brackets have Memphis advancing here, despite the fact the Tigers are only 1.5-point favorites. This is a perfect spot to fade the public and back an underrated FAU squad. We'll take the massive +17% leverage score, please and thank you.

No. 5 Duke over No. 12 Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts is an excellent shooting team that has the lowest turnover rate in the country. The Golden Eagles could absolutely pull off the upset here. If you want to increase the risk and uniqueness in your bracket, you should consider them here.

I opted against Duke because I'm all-in on Tennessee in this region. If Oral Roberts pulls off the upset, it'll only make the Vols' path to the Final Four easier, which would help me in the long run.

For more betting analysis, head over to Oral Roberts vs Duke Odds, Prediction | NCAA Tournament Betting Guide (Thursday, March 16).

No. 4 Tennessee over No. 13 Louisiana

Tennessee suffered a massive blow when it lost Zakai Zeigler to a season-ending injury. However, even after docking the Vols 2-3 points off their power rating, they're still a very strong No. 4 seed and have enough depth to survive the loss of one key player.

Tennessee ranks second in defensive efficiency and while it can struggle shooting the ball, it has the fifth-highest offensive rebound rate in the country. The Vols can get second-chance points and play suffocating defense, which makes them a dangerous team that offers a ton of leverage down the road.

For more betting analysis, head over to Louisiana vs Tennessee Odds, Picks | NCAA Tournament Betting Preview (Thursday, March 16).

No. 3 Kansas State over No. 14 Montana State

Kansas State is a vulnerable No. 3 seed, but I have the Wildcats advancing here.

No. 6 Kentucky over No. 11 Providence

The Friars offer some sneaky value here, but Kentucky offers quite a bit of leverage over the next few rounds since Kansas State is a vulnerable No. 3 seed. Kentucky should be able to attack Providence with a dominant force in Oscar Tshiebwe inside.

No. 7 Michigan State over No. 10 USC

I'm in line with the market on this game, but I'm going to lean Sparty based on the matchup. USC is so good inside defensively that it forces teams to shoot 3s against it. This sets up perfectly for Michigan State, which has shot 39.5% from downtown for the fourth-best mark in the country.

For more betting analysis, head over to USC vs. Michigan State Odds, Picks | NCAA Tournament Betting Guide (Friday, Mar. 17).

No. 2 Marquette over No. 15 Vermont

The Golden Eagles are the weakest No. 2 seed, while Vermont is the strongest No. 15. This is apparent considering the 10.5-point spread is the lowest among the No. 2 vs. No. 15 matchups. Vermont could pull off the upset, but I don't think it's worth taking that risk here.

ncaa tournament-east-region-odds-picks-how-to-bet-marquette-memphis
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images. Pictured: Marquette's David Joplin.

Round of 32

No. 1 Purdue over No. 9 Florida Atlantic

It's tempting to roll the dice on Florida Atlantic, which could give Purdue a real scare. However, we would have already cashed in on a ton of leverage if FAU wins in the opening round and I'm going to have Purdue lose in the Sweet 16.

No. 4 Tennessee over No. 5 Duke

This is when Tennessee starts to offer quite a bit of leverage (+18%), considering 51% of brackets have Duke advancing here compared to 38% on Tennessee.

I wouldn't be shocked if the Vols are slight favorites in this matchup, so we're getting good value here. I'm projecting Tennessee to have a 56% chance of advancing compared to the market-implied odds, which are right around 50%.

No. 6 Kentucky over No. 3 Kansas State

Kansas State is the weakest No. 3 seed, while Kentucky is arguably the top No. 6 seed. Kentucky would be a slight favorite of 1-2 points in this game, but 54% of brackets have KSU advancing. I'm projecting both teams with a 39% chance of advancing.

No. 7 Michigan State over No. 2 Marquette

A big number (72%) of brackets have Marquette advancing here, which is way too high. The Golden Eagles' market-implied odds of advancing are around 56%.

Marquette will only be favored by 3-4 points over either USC or Michigan State, and I think the public wouldn't be picking the Golden Eagles at such a high rate if it realized that.

Michigan State vs. USC is essentially a coin flip in the first round, but I'm investing in Marquette getting ousted here regardless of who wins that one. If the Spartans do it, that will give me a huge leg up on the field for a team that's +270 in the betting market to reach the Sweet 16.

Sweet 16

No. 4 Tennessee over No. 1 Purdue

Purdue would be favored by 2-3 points here, but 82% of users are backing it to make the Elite 8. As a result, only 13% of brackets have the Volunteers in the Elite 8, which gives us a solid +16% leverage score.

It appears the public is fading Tennessee, possibly due to Zeigler's injury, and offering us quite a bit of value to have the Vols make a run.

No. 6 Kentucky over No. 7 Michigan State

In a pretty unlikely matchup, I have a slight edge going to Kentucky. Plus, the Wildcats have the easier path to get to this game.

As I noted earlier, Michigan State vs. USC is essentially a coin flip, so I consider them a package deal. If MSU happens to shock the world and advance, my bracket would be sitting pretty, so I'm going with Kentucky.

Elite 8

No. 4 Tennessee over No. 6 Kentucky

I have a fairly chaotic region here because it's a close one. Just look at the odds for the top-three teams to win the region: Purdue +320, Marquette +370 and Tennessee +600.

With only 7% of brackets with Tennessee in the Final Four, the Vols are essentially offering +1300 implied odds in pools. That's one way to think about the "value" we're getting by having the Volunteers advance to Houston.


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Midwest

Round of 64

No. 1 Houston over No. 16 Northern Kentucky

Houston drew the toughest No. 16 seed here, but I'm obviously taking the Cougars.

For more betting analysis, head over to Northern Kentucky vs Houston Odds, Prediction | NCAA Tournament Betting Preview (Thursday, March 16).

No. 8 Iowa over No. 9 Auburn

This is essentially a coin flip, but I'm going with the Hawkeyes.

Iowa ranks third in offensive efficiency and does a great job of limiting turnovers (eighth-lowest rate in the country). The Hawkeyes defense holds them back, but they match up well against an Auburn team that struggles from the field but does a great job of getting to the free throw line. Iowa has allowed the 12th-lowest free throw attempt rate in the country, so the Tigers might not be able to reach the charity stripe as much as they typically do. That could put Iowa over the top here.

For more betting analysis, head over to Auburn vs Iowa Odds, Pick, Prediction | NCAA Tournament Betting Preview.

No. 12 Drake over No. 5 Miami

Miami is favored by only 2.5 points here, but 76% of brackets have it advancing. We're getting a +18% leverage score here that I can't pass on.

No. 13 Kent State vs. No. 4 Indiana

We're banking on maximum chaos here by having both the Nos. 12 and 13 seeds advance.

Kent State is a slightly bigger underdog here, with a 36% implied win probability, but only 16% of brackets have them advancing (+18% leverage score).

Kent State has played only two top-50-caliber teams but kept up with Houston (49-44 loss) and Gonzaga (73-66 loss) earlier this season. The Golden Flashes should be able to keep it close against Indiana and could have the edge in the turnover and free throw battle, both of which are keys in March Madness.

No. 6 Iowa State over No. 11 Pittsburgh

We first had to wait and see which team Iowa State would face here, as the result of Mississippi State vs. Pittsburgh was likely to have a big impact on my final bracket.

I'm expecting Iowa State to only be favored by about three points here. With 76% of brackets taking the Cyclones here, it's a great spot to fade them.

The forward-thinking play was to have whoever advances from this matchup upset Xavier. (More on that later.)

No. 3 Xavier over No. 14 Kennesaw State

As I just alluded to, Xavier is a vulnerable No. 3 seed that I will be looking to fade in the next round. However, the Musketeers should win comfortably here as 11.5-point favorites.

For more betting analysis, head over to Kennesaw State vs. Xavier Odds, Picks | NCAA Tournament Betting Guide (Friday, Mar. 17).

No. 7 Texas A&M over No. 10 Penn State

Both of these teams enter the tournament on a high note. Penn State was on a five-game winning streak before falling to Purdue in the Big Ten championship. However, the Nittany Lions only won those five games by a combined 13 points, including two in overtime.

Texas A&M has won 10 of its last 12 games against a handful of tournament teams in the SEC. Only 57% of brackets are on A&M, which is low considering it's favored by 3-3.5 points.

For more betting analysis, head over to Penn State vs Texas A&M Odds, Picks | NCAA Tournament Betting Guide (Thursday, March 16).

No. 2 Texas over No. 15 Colgate

Texas is arguably the best No. 2 seed and should win comfortably as a 13.5-point favorite.

For more betting analysis, head over to Colgate vs Texas Odds, Pick, Prediction | NCAA Tournament Betting Guide (Thursday, March 16).

Round of 32

No. 1 Houston over No. 8 Iowa

This is the first matchup where the availability of Cougars guard Marcus Sasser will be important. If he's active and near 100%, Houston will be favored by 7-8 points. If he's out, it'll be closer to 4-6 points.

That makes Houston fairly vulnerable early in the tournament, but I would imagine by next weekend he should be closer to 100%. Houston is still my favorite to win it all, but it seems like Sasser's injury is scaring people away from taking them. That's going to give them sneaky value in brackets.

No. 13 Kent State over No. 12 Drake

In this dream scenario, I'd have Kent State as a slight one-point favorite. Even if Miami wins, I'd have the 'Canes favored by only 1.5 points. That means there's a solid chance Kent State would still advance.

Only 5% of users have Kent State in the Sweet 16, which is an implied +2000 implied price, while sportsbooks are offering +650.

While I'm only giving Kent State a 17% chance to make the Sweet 16, I think it's worth the risk given the amount of leverage we'd get in this scenario.

No. 6 Iowa State over No. 3 Xavier

In my "choose your own adventure" part of this region, my final bracket would depend on the result of the Mississippi State vs. Pittsburgh play-in game. the scenario here was pretty straightforward: Whichever team I have winning in the opening round will beat Xavier. If Mississippi State had won, we would have taken them over the Cyclones and again here. Instead, we'll go with Iowa State.

A big 64% of users are taking Xavier to advance, which is too high considering the Musketeers are about 50/50 to do so.

No. 2 Texas over No. 7 Texas A&M

A&M is offering quite a bit of value, but my Midwest region is chaotic enough that I don't think I necessarily need to fade Texas.

If you want to avoid having the 12 vs. 13 matchup with the 13 advancing, you could instead have an Iowa/Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M Sweet 16 matchup.

Sweet 16

No. 1 Houston over No. 13 Kent State

If it's true that there are billions of different universes out there, I'm hoping we're in the one where Houston faces Kent State in the Sweet Sixteen.

Not only would I have a massive leg up on other brackets if this matchup happens, but it'd be one where Houston is favored by double digits. I'm manifesting this into reality.

No. 2 Texas over No. 6 Iowa State

As I said earlier, if you want to have the No. 4 or 5 seed advance a bit further in the upper half of the region, you might want to consider having Texas get knocked out in the Round of 32 or here in order to differentiate your bracket a bit.

kansas vs texas-odds-predictions-picks-college basketball-betting-saturday march 4
David Buono/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Texas' Timmy Allen (left) and Sir'Jabari Rice (right).

Elite 8

No. 1 Houston over No. 2 Texas

Despite all the chaos I have in this region, I'm ending with the chalky No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup. The idea behind that is a lot of the early chaos will benefit the two best teams and make their path easier, so I'm totally fine with this result being pretty chalky.

I'm also sticking with my theory that Sasser's injury is causing too many people to shy away from Houston. There's a chance he's 100% by the start of the tournament — more likely by the second weekend — which would make the Cougars a great long-term investment.

If I was making a handful of brackets, I'd make one where Houston is upset in the round of 32 by either Iowa or Auburn. There still is the chance Sasser isn't able to play, which would leave the Cougars vulnerable to an early exit.

When it comes to Houston, I think the strategy needs to be having them get knocked out early or win the whole damn thing. Any clarity on Sasser's injury will dictate my final bracket, but I'm going with the "Houston to win it all" scenario right now.


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West

No. 1 Kansas over No. 16 Howard

Heading into Selection Sunday, I was under the impression that I would have Kansas win it all in my main bracket. Then, the Jayhawks ended up in a loaded West region that has Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds that have a legitimate chance of also winning a national championship.

The West has arguably the worst Nos. 7, 10, 14 and 15 seeds, but there's a 0% chance Kansas will face any of them. Brutal.

The Jayhawks better enjoy their opening-round win over Howard, because it will immediately get tough for them in their next game.

For more betting analysis, head over to Howard vs Kansas Odds, Picks: Will Jayhawks Cruise in First Half?

No. 8 Arkansas over No. 9 Illinois

As with all 8 vs. 9 matchups, this is essentially a coin flip and the public agrees. I lean toward Arkansas here because while it sends teams to the free throw line at one of the highest rates in the country, Illinois is one of the worst free-throw-shooting teams in the nation at 68%. The Illini's Achilles heel will likely bite them in this round.

For more betting analysis, head over to Illinois vs Arkansas Odds, Picks: NCAA Tournament Betting Guide.

No. 5 Saint Mary's over No. 12 VCU

I've gone back and forth over this matchup, but I'm siding with the Gaels. VCU's high turnover rate (19.5%) and poor free throw shooting (69.7%) will make it tough to beat a team like Saint Mary's.

The Gaels have been a bit unlucky to have "allowed" opposition to shoot 75.2% from the free throw line this season, which is one of the highest in the country. Maybe the home crowd is too nice.

In all seriousness, this makes Saint Mary's a sneaky bet when it does face a team that struggles at the charity stripe.

No. 4 UConn over No. 13 Iona

UConn is the best No. 4 seed and a sneaky bet to win the tournament. Iona is always a dangerous team in the tournament with Rick Pitino at the helm, but I'm going with the Huskies here.

No. 11 Arizona State over No. 6 TCU

A massive 84% of users are taking TCU here, which is way too high considering it was only going to be favored by 4-6 points regardless of the matchup. Plus, Arizona State will be coming off a win in the play-in game, which should give the winner some nice momentum.

TCU center Eddie Lampkin left the program a couple weeks ago. He's only worth 1-2 points to the spread, but losing a 6-foot-11 big man could hurt them in the tournament. I think the Horned Frogs are a good team to fade in the opening round with so many people on them.

No. 3 Gonzaga over No. 14 Grand Canyon

This feels more like a 1 vs. 16 matchup. Gonzaga is a very strong No. 3 seed and the talent gap between these teams resembles … the Grand Canyon. I'll see myself to the next pick.

No. 10 Boise State over No. 7 Northwestern

About 60% of users are on Northwestern, but I'm projecting this matchup as closer to a coin flip. The Wildcats are great at winning the turnover battle but an awful shooting team. Boise State does a fairly good job of limiting turnovers, and I think it helps the Broncos escape with a win.

For more betting analysis, head over to Boise State vs Northwestern Odds, Pick | NCAA Tournament Betting Guide (Thursday, March 16).

No. 2 UCLA over No. 15 UNC Asheville

UCLA will be without Jaylen Clark during the tournament, which is a huge loss, but they're still good enough to steamroll through the first couple rounds.

For more betting analysis, head over to UNC Asheville vs UCLA Odds, Picks | NCAA Tournament Betting Preview (Thursday, March 16).

Round of 32

No. 1 Kansas over No. 8 Arkansas

Kansas will face its first real test here and will probably be favored by only about 5-7 points. I'd say this is too soon to knock out Kansas, but looking ahead to UConn in the Sweet 16 looks like the time to do it.

No. 4 UConn over No. 5 Saint Mary's

Saint Mary's is offering some slight value here, but it's important to look ahead and see that UConn offers some massive leverage in the Sweet 16 and beyond. The Huskies are the team I'd rather bank on eliminating Kansas.

No. 3 Gonzaga over No. 11 Arizona State

Hopefully, Gonzaga faces the 11 seed here, a situation in which it should be favored by about eight points. Even if the Zags do face TCU, they'll still be favored by 4-5 points, and the user pick percentage isn't too high on them.

No. 2 UCLA over No. 10 Boise State

Boise State is offering some value here, but UCLA still has about a 70% chance to make the Sweet 16. We will have already cashed on some solid leverage if the Broncos advance to this stage, so I'm OK going chalky and picking UCLA.

Sweet 16

No. 4 UConn over No. 1 Kansas

About 70% of users are on Kansas here, but I wouldn't be shocked if the Jayhawks are only favored by 1-2 points in this hypothetical matchup.

UConn is a No. 4 seed, but it's a legit national title contender. Only 16% of users have the Huskies in the Elite 8, which translates to +530 odds. Sportsbooks are offering a price of +310. That means the sharp play is on UConn here.

No. 2 UCLA over No. 3 Gonzaga

I have this matchup as a coin flip, but I'm leaning UCLA here, mainly because Gonzaga's path will be a bit tougher if TCU does win its first-round matchup (the more likely outcome). This is a way for me to hedge my bets a bit by going with the Bruins.

Elite 8

No. 4 UConn over No. 2 UCLA

Only 7% of users have UConn in the Final Four, which translates to odds of +1330. Most books have the Huskies priced at around +500 in this loaded region. That obviously doesn't mean UConn is likely to win the region, but there is way too much value to pass up, which is what my strategy is about.

This is the part of the bracket where Clark's absence could make a difference for the Bruins.

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Final Four

No. 1 Houston over No. 4 UConn

There's a chance UConn could be a slight favorite in this hypothetical matchup, but Houston has the easier path here and my bracket will already be sitting pretty with UConn in the Final Four.

For my main bracket, I have Houston winning it all, but my bracket for much larger pools might have UConn. Only 1.6% of users have the Huskies winning it all. That's equivalent to +6100 odds for a team that is priced around 25-1. Think of it as a 25-1 chance your bracket will likely be in the top 5% of all brackets, even if the rest of your bracket ends up being a mixed bag.

No. 1 Alabama over No. 4 Tennessee

Alabama would only be favored by 1-2 points, but I'll already have a huge leg up if Tennessee does make it this far.

National Championship Game

Houston over Alabama

As I alluded to throughout my bracket, this was a "Houston wins it all" bracket. A lot of this hinges on Sasser's availability, and the uncertainty surrounding his status gives Houston some sneaky value.

I think the worst-case scenario is Sasser sits out the first weekend and will be close to 100% in the Sweet 16 and beyond. As a No. 1 seed, Houston should be able to survive that and be at full strength when it matters most.

Most brackets have Alabama winning the title, so fading it here makes a lot of sense. In fact, having them knocked out early also makes a ton of sense and would offer you a ton of leverage. However, I felt like I took enough chances elsewhere in my bracket that it was unnecessary for me to have a team like Creighton make the Final Four at Alabama's expense.

The reality is that if Alabama is eliminated early, most of us will be screwed.

In terms of how many users are taking each of these teams, 22% of users have Alabama winning it all (+360 odds), while Houston has 11.5% of brackets (+770 odds) picking it to win the championship. The Cougars, though, are the betting favorites at +500 to cut down the nets in their home city.

The Cougars offer the most leverage when it comes to selecting them as your national champion, and I'm all about that. Go Cougars!


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March Madness Bracket Builder

Here’s a quick key to my March Madness Bracket Builder:

  • Chance to win (Win%): My projected chance of that team winning a matchup.
  • Chance to advance (Adv%): My projected odds of that team advancing past that matchup (factoring in previous games).
  • Brackets Taken In (Users%): The percentage of users on ESPN and Yahoo! who are taking that team to advance to the next round as of writing.

The Round of 64 matchups in the builder are set, but as you work through different possible outcomes in later rounds, you can compare how the Leverage changes.

You can click here to download the builder as a spreadsheet.

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