The 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is just around the corner, and the madness that occurs every March is about to go into full swing.
The NCAA basketball season took a major twist with Gonzaga’s February loss to BYU, which shook up the top 25 rankings. March Madness will not see a top-ranked undefeated team go in to the postseason.
There are still some teams that you shouldn’t bet against making it to the NCAA Final Four. Betting against these universities could ruin your bracket.
Kansas goes into early March as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. Since taking over the program 14 year ago, Bill Self has only tasted defeat in the first round of the NCAA tournament two times. Those defeats took place in back-to-back season – 2004-05, 2005-06. Since then, Self has gotten the best out of his Jayhawks teams regularly making it deep into March Madness. Kansas won the 2007-08 NCAA tournament, its only one under Self. Could this year see the coach bring a second to the Jayhawks?
Duke may be No. 7 in the nation as the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season comes to an end, but that doesn’t mean this is a pushover team when it comes to March Madness. Duke is routinely one of the best teams in the country and coach Mike Krzyzewski always puts out a competitive team during the NCAA Tournament. Ranked opponents Kansas, Florida State and Louisville all topped Duke this season; but here is no shame in those losses. Unfortunately, unranked sides North Carolina State, Miami, Virginia Tech and Syracuse defeated Duke as well. The mighty Blue Devils are walking wounded, but based on Krzyzewski’s track record, betting against them is a fool’s move.
The Bulldogs were the No. 1 ranked team until a late February loss to BYU. The loss made many bandwagon Bulldogs’ fans realize the team is a tad overrated this season. Gonzaga beat just two ranked opponents prior to its loss to BYU to finish the West Coast Conference regular season. The team should go through the WCC tournament unscathed, however. The team typically saves the best for the end of the season, and under coach Mark Few, the Bulldogs are always strong once March Madness begins. Gonzaga has reached the Sweet Sixteen five times under Few. So, don’t bet against the team reaching the NCAA Tournament’s third round. It is from there that the team has difficulty. Gonzaga has reached the Elite Eight just once.
Based on the university’s past, it is hard to bet against Roy Williams and North Carolina. Ranked in the top 15 all season, North Carolina has enough fire power to get to the NCAA Championship Game. Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson have been the key figures in the team’s offense this season. Meanwhile, Isaiah Hicks has been a major contributor to the team’s offense in both points and rebounds. North Carolina fell at the final hurdle a season ago, losing to Villanova in the tournament final. The team had a nearly identical record in the ACC last season and its overall record isn’t too dissimilar. Williams’ North Carolina has made it to the Elite Eight or further on seven occasions. Two of those times the Tar Heels lifted the tournament’s trophy at the conclusion of March Madness.
Of course, betting against the defending NCAA national champions would be foolish. The Wildcats went until January before the team was beaten by top 25 ranked Butler. In fact, Butler has twice beaten Villanova this season. A further loss to Marquette has damaged the Wildcats, although the team is still ranked No. 2 in the nation. Villanova has beaten seven top 25 ranked opponents this season. However, the Big East Tournament, arguably the best in the country, will tell fans a lot about the team’s fortunes going into the NCAA Tournament. Based on the team being defending NCAA Champions, it is difficult to bet against the Wildcats. But until last season’s tournament title win, March Madness was more of a month of sadness for Villanova University.
Want to use these tips to get in on the Win-Win March Madness tournament? Get your bracket ready for the chance to win two VIP Suite tickets to see the Lakers at the Staples Center (flight and hotel covered for you and a guest).
By Drew Farmer
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