The first round of March Madness kicks off on Thursday March 16th. Ahead of the slate’s first game between West Virginia and Maryland, here’s a look into the best championship futures before the tournament starts. Find futures odds for Alabama, Marquette, Baylor, and Texas.
March Madness Championship Futures
March Madness is here! In this season of parity, it’s going to be as difficult as ever to pick a champion. The most-picked team to win the national title rarely wins the tournament, so there is some real value to be had when forecasting a winner. Plus, with so much uncertainty surrounding the best teams in the nation, even some of the title favorites can give you solid value.
Let’s take a look at national championship odds you’ll want to pay close attention to before the tournament begins.
If you only watched college basketball last week, you would think Alabama is the clear-cut frontrunner for the national title – and that might be true. The Tide have the second-best title odds, behind Houston, but +750 looks pretty solid for a team that doesn’t have an obvious flaw.
My concerns about how the Brandon Miller controversy would affect Alabama have started to fade away. How could they not? This team looked completely locked in during the SEC Tournament and has a pretty favorable path to the Final Four thanks to the way their region was bracketed.
Alabama has a star in Miller, a number of other options on the offensive end, excellent size, a strong defense, and one of the fastest paces in the nation. It seems like the Tide have moved past the Miller distraction. It’s worth betting Alabama now, rather than when the rest of the nation starts to figure out how good this team is.
I’ve grown more fond of this Marquette team as the season has gone on. The Golden Eagles are built for March. They have a do-it-all guard in Tyler Kolek who keeps getting better, and they play smart basketball with limited mistakes.
Marquette’s defensive numbers may give bettors some pause, but the defense played extremely well against UConn and Xavier in the Big East Tournament, and it forced turnovers all season. The Golden Eagles also have a coach who has gotten to the Final Four in Shaka Smart.
Marquette plays like a team, and teams – rather than individuals – tend to win in March. Two months ago there might have been concern about who would take a critical shot in a late-game situation, but that question has been answered by Kolek’s emergence. Having the weakest No. 1 seed (Purdue) in their field doesn’t hurt, either.
Baylor has a similar feel to Marquette, with impressive guards and a coach with championship experience. There is no better backcourt in the nation, with LJ Cryer, Adam Flagler, and Keyonte George all making a huge offensive impact.
Defense is the main concern with the Bears. They were a defensive juggernaut led by Davion Mitchell when they won the 2021 title, and there’s no way around the fact their defense isn’t near that level this season. The midseason return of Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua could pay dividends in the tournament thanks to his defensive presence in the frontcourt, though.
It feels like a disappointing finish to the season, including two bad losses to Iowa State, have bumped Baylor’s title odds down to +2500. It’s worth remembering Baylor also suffered a loss to Oklahoma State in the 2021 Big Ten Tournament just before going on their title run. Scott Drew’s team will show up in March, and +2500 might be worth the flier.
Rodney Terry might not be battle-tested in the NCAA Tournament, but there isn’t much downside to this Texas team. The Longhorns are one of the oldest title contenders and have proven they can beat great teams by picking up two wins over Kansas already this month.
Sir’Jabari Rice has emerged as a legitimate high-level scoring option alongside Marcus Carr, and Texas was able to run through the Big 12 Tournament without key forward Timmy Allen, who is healthy enough to play in the tournament.
With an untested Houston and a defensively-challenged Xavier as the other top seeds in their region, the Longhorns are worth a look at +1500.