Is the No. 1 College Hoops Team in the Country Still Undervalued?

Is the No. 1 College Hoops Team in the Country Still Undervalued? article feature image

Conference tournaments have tipped, and we are just 10 days away from Selection Sunday when the committee will reveal the 68-team field for this year’s NCAA tournament. We have a pretty good idea of which squads will be in but which teams are offering value to win March Madness?

To find out, we ran 10,000 simulations of Joe Lunardi’s most recent Bracketology using our Bracket Simulator. Then we compared each squad’s current odds to win the Big Dance to our projections. For example, Michigan State is a +600 betting favorite. In order for us to feel comfortable wagering on the Sparty, they would need to win it all 14.3% (which is 100/(600+100)) of the time. Tom Izzo’s crew is projected to win March Madness 10.1% of the time, meaning there is no value in placing a bet at +600 odds.

Here are three teams bettors should consider placing a wager on before the bracket is revealed:

Virginia Cavaliers

Current odds: +650, Implied Probability: 13.3%

UVA wins the tournament 20.5% of the time

It’s not often that the No. 1 team in the country is undervalued. Perhaps it is because UVA is known for defense, allows the fewest points per game in the country (52.1), and the offense isn’t flashy (67.5 ppg). However, if you adjust for opponent, the Cavs offense ranks 38th in KenPom’s offensive efficiency. A top-40 offense and a stingy defense is the perfect recipe for a college basketball title.

Cincinnati Bearcats

Current odds: +3000, Implied Probability: 3.2%

Cincy wins the tournament 7.2% of the time

Interesting note about the Bearcats, Mick Cronin’s team has played just one game in Cincinnati this season. Cincy’s “home” games have taken place on the campus of Northern Kentucky due to renovations at Fifth Third Arena. Extra road experience should benefit the Cats in the tournament. And like Virginia, Cincinnati is another defensive-oriented unit (No. 2 in defensive efficiency) that is going overlooked by bettors.

Purdue Boilermakers

Current odds: +1200, Implied Probability: 7.7%

Purdue wins the tournament 9.0% of the time

The Boilermakers looked like world-beaters when they won 19 straight. But a three-game skid, with losses to No. 14 Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan State, have some questioning Purdue’s merits. Losing streaks happen, so it is important to look at the big picture when handicapping future bets. The Makers have a pair of seven-footers and hit 42% from three, a tough combo to beat in the Big Dance.

Below is each team’s chance to advance to the Sweet 16, Final Four and win the Championship.

Pictured above: Virginia guard Kyle Guy

Photo via Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports