Every single year, the NCAA Tournament is chock-full of chaos, pressure and upsets.
And for all the talk about Gonzaga, Duke, Baylor, Kentucky, Arizona, Villanova, Kansas and Auburn holding serve and marching their way towards a national championship, there’s very little to gain when betting on those teams to reach the Final Four in New Orleans.
Gonzaga is -135 at FanDuel and as high as -185 at SugarHouse to win their region. Odds of -135 imply a 57% chance of probability while -185 implies 65%. So there’s a better chance than not that the Zags cut down the nets in the West. But that’s no fun.
Here are four NCAA Tournament sleepers that will stuff your wallets if they take care of business:
West Region — UConn (+2000 at FOX Bet)
I’ll bite the apple one more time on the Huskies. They trailed eventual-champion Villanova by one possession in the final minute of the Big East Tournament and I love the way they battled in that game. UConn wipes the Windex better than most — second-best offensive rebounding team in the nation — and Danny Hurley’s squad is top-five in blocking shots and defending two-pointers. They’ll need senior southpaw R.J. Cole to be the best player on the floor, but if UConn can stun Gonzaga, you’ll be able to lock in a profit no matter what.
East Region — North Carolina (+2500 at FanDuel)
Potential, potential, potential. North Carolina certainly has the talent to make a run and it’s not like the Tar Heels haven’t been tested this season. UNC faced Kentucky, Tennessee, Purdue and Michigan in the non-conference, swept Virginia Tech in the regular season and dealt Duke a crushing loss in head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Heels certainly have the athletes to get by Baylor at which point they would be favored in the Sweet 16 and a one-possession favorite against either Kentucky or Purdue. Don’t act like the NCAA Tournament would hate a surprise North Carolina run.
South Region — Michigan (+3000 at DraftKings)
I just can’t quit Michigan. I was too quick to lay -130 on the Michigan moneyline in the Big Ten Tournament against Indiana and that market closed -165 or higher. The Wolverines jumped out to a 60-43 second-half lead and I was practically spending the money from the highly-probable victory. Then, Indiana closed on an unprecedented 28-4 run to pull the upset. Lol. Michigan still has the horses and if they keep feeding the ball inside to Hunter Dickinson, they can reach the second weekend. If you think of the Wolverines as a stock, this would be the time to buy.
Midwest Region — Iowa (+400 at FanDuel)
This one won’t have the payout of the previous three sleepers and I’m not even sure that we can call a five-seed a “sleeper,” but oh well. Iowa is the energizer bunny and nobody wants to get stuck in a track meet with the Hawkeyes. Just ask Northwestern, who had 112 points dropped on its head. Fran McCaffery’s club is the second-most efficient offense in the country and Keegan Murray can score 30 points on any given night. I can’t wait for Iowa-Kansas in the Sweet 16. The winner of that one will likely charge all the way to the Final Four.