The Virginia Cavaliers are the best team entering March Madness according to the ESPN College Basketball Power Index. Tony Bennett has long been known as one of the best coaches in college basketball, and Virginia’s tough defensive style makes them a horrible team to play against. Despite their style, last year’s historically shocking first round exit against UMBC may be fresh in the back of the Cavaliers’ minds as it was the first time a first seed had lost to a sixteenth seed since 1985.
In the NBA Draft community, Zion Williamson is the hot name. Considered the best talent since Anthony Davis by many, Zion leads the Duke Blue Devils. Under Mike Krzyzewski, they are are always competing for a national championship. The likes of RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish make Duke the best team on paper entering the tournament, but that does not always translate in College Basketball.
Then you have the Tennessee Volunteers. A surprise package who took the scalp of Gonzaga back in December. Their recent blowout loss against the Kentucky Wildcats has seen them drop in the eyes of many, but they still find themselves in the top five of the coaches’ poll.
Despite the loss mentioned above, the Gonzaga Bulldogs still enter the Tournament as one of, if not the full favourite. Led by the likes of Brandon Clarke, the Bulldogs top the coaches’ poll and the AP Top 25 rankings. Mark Few has spent years building a solid programme in the North West. He was notorious for early exits at the start of his reign, but in the last four years Gonzaga have not gone out earlier than the round of 16. This could be the year for Few to get that National Championship.
Whilst Duke +170 and Gonzaga at +600 are the early March Madness favourites, there are plenty of teams who are in with a chance of winning the tournament and this March Madness sleeper picks article details what teams offer value outside of the four favourites.
We can obviously never rule out John Calipari’s Kentucky, as he is a proven winner who runs a tight ship with the ‘one and done’ policy. John Beliein’s Michigan Wolverines got to the Championship last year, and his offensive prowess makes them a contender once again. Otherwise, watch out for Nevada and North Carolina, who both have experienced coaches who know how to spring a surprise.