Evaluating the Sweet Sixteen Teams and the Profile of a National Champion
Many college basketball fans still remember Arizona's 84-79 overtime win over Kentucky in the 1997 NCAA Tournament championship game. Arizona finished the season 25-9, including the conference and NCAA Tournaments. In the 25 years since then, only Connecticut in both 2011 (32-9) and 2014 (32-8) had more than seven losses when winning the NCAA Tournament.
I break down the Sweet Sixteen teams, match-ups, stats and additional information you can bet on in another NCAA Tournament update at Off Shore Gaming Association. It includes the betting lines from BetOnline and top online sportsbooks, along with some picks and bets I've made.
I also evaluate the remaining No. 1 seeds Alabama (+14.1) and Houston (+18.3), who also have the best scoring margin of the remaining teams in the NCAA Tournament. Alabama (+300) and Houston (+425) are also the favorites to cut down the nets and win the National Championship with odds from BetOnline.
NCAA Tournament - Updated Bracket, Schedules and Scores
Profile of a National Champion
After winning its first two NCAA Tournament games, Texas is 28-8, Connecticut is 27-8, Princeton is 23-8, Kansas State is 25-9, Xavier is 27-9, Tennessee is 25-10, Creighton is 23-12, Michigan State 21-12 and Arkansas is 22-13.
So 9 of the 16 remaining teams fit a losing profile and trend of a NCAA Tournament winner over the past 25 years. This remaining field is one of the weakest in decades from that standpoint, and leaves Alabama (31-5), Houston (33-3), UCLA (31-5), Gonzaga (30-5), Miami (27-7), San Diego State (29-6), and Florida Atlantic (33-3) as the top teams with 7 or less losses.
Also, a stat profile of a NCAA Tournament winner and national champion is that 19 of the last 20 National Champions have finished in the Top 20 in Ken Pom’s offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency rankings.
Alabama, Houston, UCLA, Connecticut and Texas fit that profile with Creighton just missing. Put it all together, and your winning profile for top payouts on futures bets looking best to win the NCAA Tournament and become the 2023 national champion are Houston, Alabama or UCLA. Those three teams also rank 1, 2, 3 in NET rankings.
Other stats of interest for a NCAA Tournament winner include offensive rebounding at greater than 37%. Only Houston and Connecticut rebound the offensive glass at greater than 37%. Next are Tennessee (35.5%), Alabama (32.8%) and UCLA (32%).
Teams that shoot at least 37% from the 3-point arc are also proven winners. Those teams include: Xavier (38.9%), Michigan State (38.7%) and Gonzaga (38.4%). Next are Miami (36.8%), Florida Atlantic (36.7%), Connecticut (36.2%), Creighton (35.8%), UCLA (34.8%), Houston (34.2%), Texas (34.1%), Alabama (34.1%), San Diego State (34%). However, 3-point shooting has the most variance, and Michigan State was able to win it's Round of 32 game despite starting 0-for-15 from beyond the arc and finishing just 2-for-16 in a 69-60 win over Marquette, thanks to stronger rebounding and fewer turnovers.
Of course, top defensive teams are always worth considering when wagering on March Madness as teams go deeper in the tournament. The top 5-teams in Ken Pom's adjusted defensive efficiency ratings are still in the NCAA Tournament. Tennessee, UCLA, Alabama, Houston and San Diego State. And Texas is also in the top-10 with Creighton, Connecticut and Arkansas in the top 15.
Including teams that are stronger defensively in holding opponents to 45% of less in 2-point FG shots is another proven profile of a NCAA Tournament winner. Alabama (40.9%), Houston (42.9%) and Tennessee (44.8%) are best in the Sweet Sixteen. Creighton (45.8%), UCLA (46.6%) and Arkansas (47%) are next.
Many brackets may be busted, but some of these proven stat profiles can help guide you to more betting winners. The cream is still likely to rise to the top as teams shoot for the Final Four and national championship.
You can bet on it.
Check back for any other stats and updates as March Madness continues.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and insightful analyst with proven winning results including in college basketball. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay